Friday, March 4, 2011

Playoff Preview: 10. Harvard at 7. Clarkson

The Harvard Crimson and Clarkson Golden Knights square off in a best of three series starting tomorrow night at Cheel Arena. Here's some of the key stats and storylines to watch for.

Regular Season Split
Back in November, Harvard was riding a modest two game winning streak into Cheel Arena, including disposing of the St. Lawrence Saints the night before, while Clarkson had just been drubbed 7-1 on their own home ice. Clarkson had already shown their bounceback potential, having lost earlier in the season 8-0 to Nebraska-Omaha before beating St. Cloud State 6-2 the following night. After a scoreless first, Clarkson dominated the second with 19 shots and two goals. Michael Biega got one for the visitors in the third on a drive but Clarkson sealed the game after Kyle Richter was victimized on a bad bounce. Notably, in this game, Alex Fallstrom suffered a lower body injury that put him out of commission for a while. The game started a seven game losing streak for Harvard.
Just last weekend, the two teams met again, not realizing they were destined to be playoff opponents. Both teams were again scoreless after the first while in the second, Alex Fallstrom's PP tally put the Crimson in front...for 34 seconds until Jake Morley tied things up. In the third, Marshal Everson grabbed Harvard's second PP tally and that proved to be the game-winner, while Alex Killorn added an empty-netter to seal the victory.

Harvard Player to Watch
This has to be Danny Biega. As we noted on our twitter account, the sophomore defenseman has been involved in (scored or assisted on)  21 of Harvard's 49 league goals, 42.8% of Harvard's scoring. He also leads the team in points. How good the Crimson will be likely depends on how good Danny Biega plays.

Clarkson Player to Watch
Clarkson's scoring has been pretty balanced, so I'm going to go with freshman Allan McPherson. With 5 goals and 11 assists, he leads the Golden Knights in league points.

Harvard Statistics
-The Crimson like to point to the two tough losses against RPI and Union on the road as the turning point in their season. May I suggest a hypothesis as to why? Alex Fallstrom seemed to be fully healthy during the Union game, making his way back into the lineup for the rest of the season. Harvard is 8-8-1 in games Fallstrom started (including a loss when he got injured) and 1-11 without Fallstrom in the lineup.
-Harvard's power play has climbed to 18.1%, good enough for the top half of the nation but it's in league games where the power play is truly shining. Harvard's PP is second in the ECAC for league games at 22.7%, just behind the top power play in the nation, Union.
-Harvard is now tied for last with Quinnipiac for scoring offense in league games, averaging 2.23 goals per game.
-Harvard draws the second-least amount of penalties (88 power plays) but also commits the second-fewest amount of penalties (81 penalty kills)
-Harvard is 0-7-1 in its last eight games in Cheel Arena, last winning their in November of 2004. Their last playoff win against Clarkson came later in that year.

Clarkson Statistics
-Last home playoff series was a sweep of Harvard in the 2007 Quarterfinals
-Goaltender Paul Karpowich is 10th in the league in save percentage at .910 but last in goals against average with a 3.28 GAA. He has a 2.98 GAA in overall games.
-Clarkson is 6th in scoring offense in league games, scoring 2.64 goals/game while they are 11th in scoring defense, giving up 3.55 goals/game.
-Clarkson is the most penalized team (125 penalty kills) and also draws the least amount of penalties (85 power plays) in ECAC games

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