Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where We Stand (27 Feb)

It turns out that last night's game between Yale and Harvard had absolutely no impact on the final standings. All Harvard's win did was force Clarkson's tiebreaking win over Harvard to come into effect.

The quarterfinal series match-ups are as follows:
#8 Colgate at #1 Cornell
#7 RPI at #2 Clarkson
#6 Dartmouth at #3 Harvard
#5 St. Lawrence at #4 Quinnipiac

Princeton (6-14-2) had their chance at the #8 seed. They were leading Yale 2-1 heading into the third period, but the Bulldogs rallied, scoring three goals and keeping the Tigers out of the playoffs. This is the first time that Princeton missed the playoffs since 2001.

Yale (4-14-3) finished in 10th place, missing the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.

Brown (5-17-0) misses the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years and finished in 11th. In 2006, the year before the beginning of that streak, the Bears played in the ECAC championship game, and in 2002 lost to Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 in the national championship game.

Union (0-18-4) finishes in last place for the 9th time in 10 seasons in the ECAC, failing to register an ECAC win for the 6th time (but the first since 2009).

RPI (10-7-3) is currently in 2nd place by themselves. They clinch at least 4th place and a bye with a win over Clarkson. A tie means that they can't finish below fifth, but they would not be guaranteed a Top 4 finish. They can clinch 2nd place on Friday with a win, a SLU loss against Union, and a Dartmouth loss or tie against Princeton. They will finish somewhere between 2nd and 6th when all is said and done, and they control their own destiny for 2nd. A first-round bye would be the first for RPI under the current playoff structure.

RPI cannot catch Quinnipiac, and cannot be caught by Brown, Princeton, Cornell, Colgate, or Harvard. Every other team in the league can be potentially added to that list on Friday.
* If they don't lose on Friday, Clarkson gets added to the list.
* If they pick up as many points (or more) than Union does against SLU, the Dutchmen get thrown onto the list.
* They need to earn more points than Dartmouth or Yale to put the Big Green or the Bulldogs on the list.
* To put St. Lawrence out of range, it would take an RPI win and a SLU loss to Union.

Rooting interests for Friday night:
* Princeton over Dartmouth: There's no reason not to cheer for the Tigers.
* Union over St. Lawrence: If RPI beats Clarkson, then Union can't catch the Engineers. A Dutchmen win makes it so the Saints can't either. If RPI doesn't beat Clarkson, then it would be better to let St. Lawrence also win, since RPI controls their destiny against the Saints and it would leave Union out of range.
* Yale ties Colgate: RPI swept Yale, so there's nothing wrong with Yale creeping closer and it gives the Bulldogs a better chance of finishing in the Top 4, which could be critical when it comes down to tiebreakers, but if RPI loses to Clarkson, then we don't want the Engineers to be tied with the Bulldogs. Any result in this game is a good result.

The Quinnipiac-Harvard and Cornell-Brown games are irrelevant for RPI's placement, none of those teams can catch RPI or be caught by RPI. It would be better for Brown to finish in the Top 8 than Cornell, but if we're getting to that point in the tiebreakers, we've already run into some issues.

Tiebreakers for Friday night
SLU: Wins on season series (2-0)
Yale: Wins on season series (4-0)
Dartmouth: Unclear, goes to third tiebreaker (Record vs. Top 4) - Won by RPI unless Union is in the Top 4.
SLU/Dartmouth: RPI, Dartmouth, SLU
SLU/Yale: RPI, Yale, SLU
Dartmouth/Yale: RPI, Yale, Dartmouth
SLU/Dartmouth/Yale: RPI, Yale, Dartmouth, SLU

Individual tiebreakers for Saturday night
*St. Lawrence
RPI would likely win a direct tiebreaker with St. Lawrence when all is said and done. There are only three scenarios in which the teams end the season tied with each other.
1) RPI beats Clarkson on Friday, SLU ties Union on Friday, SLU beats RPI on Saturday. The Engineers would win the tiebreaker on ECAC wins.
2) RPI ties Clarkson on Friday, SLU beats Union on Friday, SLU and RPI tie on Saturday. The Engineers would win the tiebreaker on a 3-1 season series win.
3) RPI ties Clarkson on Friday, SLU loses to Union on Friday, SLU beats RPI on Saturday. This would go to the record against the Top 4 teams.
* Quinnipiac is the only guaranteed Top 2 team - SLU had 2 points against them, RPI 1.
* Dartmouth - SLU 2, RPI 2
* Yale - RPI 4, SLU 0
* Union - SLU 2, RPI 0
* Clarkson - RPI 3, SLU 1
Union and Clarkson can't both get the bye, since they play each other, and in this scenario, RPI and SLU both would be in the top four themselves, or at least tied for fourth (in which case, Yale and Dartmouth are both top 4, winning RPI the tiebreaker). Thus, RPI would still win this tiebreaker as long as Yale or Clarkson is the 4th team, not Dartmouth or Union.

* Yale
Won by RPI on season series, 4-0

* Dartmouth
This almost certainly would go to the third tiebreaker (Record vs. Top 4). The only way it doesn't is if RPI is swept on the weekend and Dartmouth ties both Princeton and Quinnipiac, in which case RPI would win the tiebreaker on the second tiebreaker (ECAC wins) or RPI ties both Clarkson and St. Lawrence while Dartmouth sweeps Princeton and Quinnipiac on the weekend.
* Quinnipiac - RPI has one point, Dartmouth has none but plays Quinnipiac on Saturday.
* St. Lawrence - Dartmouth has two points, RPI also has two but plays St. Lawrence on Saturday.
* Yale - RPI 4, Dartmouth 2
* Union - Dartmouth 3, RPI 0
* Clarkson - Dartmouth has two points, RPI also has two but plays Clarkson on Friday.

If Yale is a Top 4 team and Union is not, then RPI wins the tiebreaker. If Union is a Top 4 team and Yale is not, then Dartmouth wins the tiebreaker. Otherwise, there's still quite a bit of flux in this tiebreaker.

* Union
Won by Union on season series, 4-0

* Clarkson
Only comes into effect with a Clarkson win on Friday, then a Clarkson win and RPI loss on Saturday. That causes a series split between the teams, and causes identical ECAC records. This goes to the Top 4.
* Quinnipiac - RPI 1, Clarkson 0
* St. Lawrence - Clarkson 3, RPI 2
Thus, if RPI and Clarkson tie for 3rd, it would go to the fourth tiebreaker, record against Top 8 teams.
* Yale - RPI 4, Clarkson 2
* Dartmouth - RPI 2, Clarkson 2
* Union - Clarkson 4, RPI 0
* Brown - RPI 3, Clarkson 1
* Cornell - RPI 2, Clarkson 2
* Princeton - Clarkson 4, RPI 1
* Colgate - RPI 4, Clarkson 1
RPI would win the Top 8 tiebreaker as long as Princeton or Union finished 9th. Colgate cannot finish above 9th unless Union does as well, and would require Brown to finish below 9th. That makes even this a solid bet to go to the fifth tiebreaker, goal differential in head-to-head competition. If that happens, RPI will win the tiebreaker provided that their loss on Friday is by three or fewer goals. More than four, Clarkson wins. If it is by four goals exactly, the sixth tiebreaker goes into effect, goal differential in games against Top 4 teams.
* Quinnipiac - RPI -2, Clarkson -4
* St. Lawrence - Clarkson +3, RPI 0 or worse
If RPI and Clarkson are tied for 3rd, Clarkson would win on the sixth tiebreaker if it got that far - and it would be, at the end of the day, because of an empty net goal scored by Quinnipiac.

Multiple level tiebreakers for Saturday night to come following Friday night's games.

* RPI will finish behind Quinnipiac for the second consecutive year.
* RPI will finish ahead of Brown for the eighth consecutive year.
* RPI will finish ahead of Princeton for the second consecutive year.
* RPI will finish ahead of Harvard and Colgate for the first time since 2011.
* RPI will finish ahead of Cornell for the first time since 2000.

Remainder of the league:
Quinnipiac (16-1-3) will finish first and host the lowest remaining seed in the ECAC quarterfinals in three weeks. It is their first ever Top 4 finish in the ECAC.

St. Lawrence (9-7-4) and Yale (10-9-1) have clinched at least home ice in the first round, sitting 3rd and 4th respectively. St. Lawrence controls its own destiny for 2nd, the Saints' last bye was in 2009. Yale controls its own destiny for a bye position.

Yale is tied for 4th with Dartmouth (9-8-3) but sits in 4th because of their advantage in ECAC wins. Dartmouth could still finish with the bye or could still end up on the road in the first round. A first round bye would be the fourth in five years for Yale. For Dartmouth, it would be the second consecutive two-year cycle where Dartmouth goes from being on the road in the first round in one year to having a bye in the next. They were on the road in 2010, had a bye in 2011, and were on the road in 2012.

Union (8-8-4), Clarkson (8-9-3), and Brown (6-8-6) are alone in 6th, 7th, and 8th respectively. Each controls their own destiny for home-ice, could reach the Top 4, but could also be on the road in the first round instead. Union has had four byes in the last five years. Clarkson has not had a first-round bye since being the #1 seed in 2008. Brown has not had a home playoff game since 2005.

Princeton (7-10-3) and Cornell (7-10-3) are tied for 9th, with Princeton winning the tiebreaker due to a season sweep against the Big Red. Cornell could potentially reach a tie for fourth that they could win, while Princeton is guaranteed to be playing in the first round. The Big Red have never been lower than a 5 seed in the current playoff format, and have not failed to host a playoff series since 1999. Princeton will play in the first round for the fourth straight year.

Colgate (6-11-3) will be playing in the first round, and could finish anywhere from 7th to 12th. They are in danger of falling into the same cycle as Dartmouth - they had a bye in 2010, were on the road in 2011, and had a bye in 2012.

Harvard (5-14-2) will finish either 11th or 12th and will be on the road in the first round. Failing to earn more points (vs. Quinnipiac) on Friday than Colgate (at Yale) would lock the Crimson into last place for the first time in program history.

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