Thursday, March 3, 2011

ECAC First Round Capsules

Dropping in with a quick look at the four series that are taking place this weekend.

#9 Brown at #8 Quinnipiac
(Season series split, 3-3 in Providence on 11/5, 2-2 in Hamden on 2/19)

The Bears are finally back in the flow of things, earning a weekend sweep in their final two games of the season against Cornell and Colgate. Before that, they'd been just awful, with just one victory in their preceding nine games. Brown's resume actually looks fairly comparable to last year's team heading into the playoffs, if may just a touch better. We know the Bears have the system and players to be a tough team at this point in the season.

Quinnipiac, meanwhile, went 0-for-February, when it comes to the win column, that is. They racked up plenty of ties, going 0-3-4 for the month, meaning they were in most of their games, but they're winless in eight straight. That speaks to an inability to put the puck in the net. They've failed to reach the magic 3-goal margin in their last six outings.

#10 Harvard at #7 Clarkson
(Season series split, 3-1 Clarkson in Potsdam on 11/13, 3-1 Harvard in Boston on 2/25)

Harvard's terrible, no good, very bad season actually took a turn for the better in February. Not coincidentally, they're also scoring goals. After their requisite first round exit in the Beanpot, the Crimson came alive, going 5-1-1 since, making them one of the hottest teams in the league at the end of the year.

That doesn't bode well for Clarkson, who dropped a game to Harvard just last weekend and who are going in basically the opposite direction. They finished their season off with a solid 4-1 victory over Dartmouth, snapping a three-game losing streak. Clarkson is 5-12-0 since the New Year, in large part because they had two games against each of Minnesota-Duluth, Union, Yale, and RPI during that stretch (they were 1-7-0 against those teams). Going just under .500 against the rest of the teams they played in the last two months, however, doesn't really fill one with confidence.

#11 St. Lawrence at #6 Princeton
(Princeton swept season series, 5-1 in Princeton on 12/4, 5-3 in Canton on 1/28)

The Saints have given up three goals or more in six of their last eight games, and they picked up only one victory in those games (care to guess who that was?). That one game we from them in Canton, in which St. Lawrence looked like a very dangerous team looks more like the exception than the norm.

Princeton, on the other hand, has been all over the map in February, aided by generally solid performances on Fridays followed up by losses on Saturday (again... gee!) over the last month. They haven't been especially impressive, going 2-5-1 over the last four weeks of the regular season. They did score 15 goals in the three games immediately preceding their blowout loss at Union on the last day of the season, but most damning for the Tigers is that they've allowed at least three goals in each of their last 10 games, and 11 of the last 12 with the one game being a 7-1 win against that powerhouse from Milford, Sacred Heart.

#12 Colgate at #5 RPI
(Season series split, 2-1 RPI in Hamilton on 1/15, 2-1 Colgate in Troy on 2/11)

The Raiders got back into some bad habits last week - namely, allowing goals against Brown, which saw them on the short end of the result in their last game. What makes Colgate dangerous is the fact that they haven't lost a game in which they've allowed 3 or fewer goals since their first outing against the Engineers, so the Raider defense is going to have a lot to say about what happens this weekend.

I think we've said enough about what is making the Engineers go or not go regularly here, there's no need to rehash any of that happiness again.

Predictions: Gosh, I don't know. I mean, the league is so interesting this year, especially in the last month. I learned during the Brown series last year that predicting how many games each series is going to go is a fool's errand, so I'll just pick the teams I expect to win series this weekend - RPI, Princeton, Brown, and Harvard. Why? WHY NOT? This is the ECAC, picks don't have to make sense.

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