Thursday, February 3, 2011

Women's Hockey: If the ECAC Playoffs Started Today 1

The women's season ends in just a few weeks so the playoff battles are starting to get intense. Let's take a look at what they would be like if the season ended tonight.

1. Cornell (22-1, 16-0) vs. 8. St. Lawrence (12-13-2, 7-8)
Let me see if I have this right. There are six league games left for Cornell, meaning twelve possible points. Cornell leads second place Harvard by 8. After this weekend, Cornell and Harvard will only have four league games left, or eight possible points. So that means if Cornell sweeps this weekend and Harvard does not, Cornell can clinch the ECAC Regular Season Championship. Wow. Clarkson, in fifth place, has 7 games (14 points remaining) and trails Cornell by 15 points, so Cornell has also already clinched home ice.
On the other end of the standings, St. Lawrence is holding on to a tenuous lead over Colgate. They are also still in striking range of a home ice series, so lots to play for in Canton.
Cornell leads the season series 1-0 over the Saints thanks to a 3-1 home win and plays them this weekend in what might be a playoff preview.

2. Harvard (12-7-2, 11-3-2) vs. 7. RPI (9-12-6, 7-8-1)
Harvard needs a lot of help (and/or a complete meltdown by Cornell) in order to finish the top of the ECAC but that doesn't mean the Crimson just have the Beanpot to play for. They still have not clinched home ice in the playoffs yet. They could, by this weekend, clinch a playoff spot, with 9th placed Colgate sitting 11 points out with only 12 points up for grabs.
On the other side of the matchup, a team that Crimson fans probably deep down don't want to see. It's hard to forget that this RPI squad sent a talented Harvard squad home on home ice in the ECAC Semifinals two years ago. The Lady 'Tute also have a 4-2-1 record over Harvard in the last three years.
The teams split the season series 1-1, with both teams winning at home by 2-1 scorelines.

3. Dartmouth (14-8, 10-6) vs. 6. Princeton (8-7-1, 11-13-3)
Technically, Dartmouth still has a chance to get first place, but if Cornell gets as much as one point on the weekend, the Big Green will be officially bounced from that competition. The Big Green trail travel partner Harvard by four (the sweep by the Crimson over Dartmouth is currently the difference between the two Ivies.)
Princeton, meanwhile, is only a point behind Quinnipiac for home ice and is tied with Clarkson for points (the Tigers have played one more game.) With Princeton and Quinnipiac visiting Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend, the Tigers could, with a sweep and a Quinnipiac split (beating Dartmouth), see themselves jump from sixth ahead of Dartmouth to third. Of course, Princeton is also only four points away from ninth place Colgate as well.
The Big Green lead the season series 1-0 thanks to a 3-2 OT win at Hobey Baker rink. Both teams meet Saturday afternoon at Dartmouth.

4. Quinnipiac (17-9-1, 9-7) vs. 5. Clarkson (11-13-3, 8-6-1)
Quinnipiac is eliminated from first place but could gain ground in moving on to second place this weekend. A sweep this weekend would put them 1 point behind Harvard for second, and move them to no worse than a tie with Dartmouth. On the other hand, results going the wrong way could see the Bobcats fall out of the top four (and home ice) toward the last few playoff spaces.
Clarkson is in a similar predicament. They are tied with Princeton but have the higher standing due to their game in hand. The Golden Knights get a shot to give Cornell its first loss in league play and then can try to further separate themselves from Colgate on Saturday. They have four straight home games coming up, but they'll have to make good on them, as then they finish with three straight road games, including a trip to big rival St. Lawrence (a game that will be the 3rd in 5 days for Clarkson.)
The two teams split the season 1-1 with the road team winning a 3-2 OT game both times.

On The Fence:
Colgate (9-16-2, 6-9-1)
Colgate trails St. Lawrence by just one point and plays them Friday night on the road. Especially since the Saints have a game in hand (as does Yale right behind Colgate), it feels like a must win for Colgate, even though it's technically not. Should be a fun game to watch on Friday.
Yale (6-14-2, 5-9-1)
The Bulldogs have a chance to get back in the swing of things with their remaining schedule, despite being 3 points behind St. Lawrence for the last playoff spot. On the road at Union and at home vs. Brown are should win games for the Elis. A road visit next week at Colgate will be huge. Hurting Yale's chance are no direct games against St. Lawrence and games remaining at Cornell and vs. Princeton and Quinnipiac. Yale probably wants Colgate to jump ahead of St. Lawrence this weekend, this way the team with the last spot is a team they have a game against.
Brown (2-17-3, 1-11-3)
Technically not eliminated yet. That's the best you can say for Bruno. They trail St. Lawrence by 9 points and have 14 possible points left. If the Saints sweep Colgate and Cornell, Brown will be eliminated from the race. If Colgate sweeps, Brown will be on the absolute brink going into next week. So if you are a Brown fan, cheer for Cornell and Clarkson and for a Saints/Raiders tie. Yale getting swept probably wouldn't hurt either.

Out of Playoff Contention:
Union (1-24-3, 0-14-2)
Union is twelve points out of the last playoff spot with 12 possible points to get. So if St. Lawrence gets at least 1 point this weekend, that means the Dutchwomen cannot catch them for the last playoff spot. If St. Lawrence got 0 points for the weekend and Colgate got two points, that would put the Raiders at 15 points. In that case, even a Union sweep would put the Dutchwomen 9 points behind Colgate for the last spot with only 8 possible points left. And since Colgate and St. Lawrence play each other, there's no way Colgate can get only 1 point on the weekend that results in St. Lawrence getting 0 points. Feel free to double check me on this logic, but I'm pretty sure Union is officially eliminated from the playoffs.

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