Instead of doing a Power Rankings post, each week I am going to go over all the rankings. (Note: All the rankings includes the USCHO Poll, SB Nation Poll, PairWise Rankings, my Power Rankings, and my ballot for the SB Nation Poll.)
Some thoughts on each of the ranking mechanisms:
- USCHO Poll – Garbage. Voters are lazy and (I suspect) don’t actually watch the games.
- SB Nation Poll – We generally get it as right as biased humans can.
- PairWise Rankings – Limited, but functional.
- My Power Rankings – My rankings are built on ranking teams across 10 categories and then summing those categorical rankings. Those categories are Winning Percentage, Goal Differential, Shooting Percentage, Save Percentage, Power Play, Penalty Kill (both *.333 as teams spend on average 1/3 of a game on special teams), Percentage of Shots Taken in Games, Percentage of Shots taken Relative to Opponent Quality, and the last two against teams that take more than 50% of shots in a game. This is also limited, but is more well-rounded than the PairWise, which is based solely on wins and losses. If Team A gets outshot 100-1 by Team B, but wins 1-0, I am more apt to reward Team B and think of them as a better team than Team A. My rankings attempt to account for this with the limited data available.
- My Ballot – The best, obviously.
The USCHO.com Poll, SB Nation Poll, and My Ballot:
Look, I get it. You get through the top-five teams pretty easy and then you’re like uhhhh… Sure Minnesota, Ohio State, and St. Lawrence belong there, but where exactly? Then nine and ten are a complete dice roll. Do I trust Providence who just lost to New Hampshire? Northeastern who’s only a game above .500? Robert Morris who can’t beat anyone good? Maine? Oh right, Quinnipiac is a thing…
That’s the nature of this season. The good teams aren’t as wholly dominant as they usually are and there are more teams In the Hunt than ever before. Fourth place could win every conference tournament and it probably wouldn’t be all that surprising. (That would be Mercyhurst, Clarkson, New Hampshire, and Minnesota-Duluth right now.) Four teams are .500 or better in conference play in the CHA. The top four teams are all tied in points in the ECAC. Boston College has tied the last-place WHEA team…twice. The second to last place team in the WCHA just tied two games against the first place team. It’s madness.
The PairWise Rankings:
In terms of RPI, the big gaps between consecutive teams are 1st and 2nd, 5th and 6th, 7th and 8th, 13th and 14th, and then you don’t see another one until 28th and 29th, which is amazing. Robert Morris dropping a game to Mercyhurst was killer as they now sit 9th in the PairWise. They likely will need to win the CHA tournament or be left home come NCAA time. Ohio State has a decent gap on Providence for the at-large bid, but that’s not going to continue if they keep dropping points to teams like St. Cloud State.
When you look at the sums of each team’s rankings in each category, my power rankings think the biggest gaps are between 16th and 17th (Harvard and Princeton), 24th and 25th (Syracuse and Merrimack), and 31st and 32nd (Lindenwood and Brown).
I think most people would agree that the top five of Wisconsin, Clarkson, Colgate, Boston College, and Cornell, in some order, are pretty solid. After that I’m going to run down all the teams In the Hunt which will stretch from 6th down to Harvard in 16th, plus anyone below them that is within a game of .500 or better. I’ll sum it up by telling you if you should buy or sell on each team.
#4 Robert Morris (11-3-2)
The Colonials slide in at number four, not only because they’ve put up good numbers against bad teams, but because those bad teams have also put up good numbers against other bad teams. Thus their quality of competition metrics are higher than they should be. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to go into another level of competition.
Robert Morris’s best wins are an overtime victory over Ohio State, who isn’t looking too good right now, and a 2-1 win over Maine, who no one seems to take seriously despite a decent record. Unlike last season, the Colonials probably aren’t prohibitive favorites to win the CHA tournament as Syracuse, Mercyhurst, and even Penn State all look capable of taking a game from the Colonials.
Providence is one on a long list of teams where my opinion is essentially ‘I feel like you should be more consistent, but you’re not and I don’t know why.’ They swept a ranked Northeastern team and were swept by a ranked Cornell team. Their only other ranked opponent, Boston College, beat them handily. Their other losses are to okay, but not great Quinnipiac and Syracuse (whom they defeated in the other series game). I think people are just low on Providence because they haven’t really been here before. Looking at that, there really isn’t much to complain about.
Buy, but with caution.
#7 Minnesota (14-5-1)
Is Minnesota floating by on reputation? Yes. Are they still decent? Also yes. One of the biggest struggles for the Gophers is (yet again), their goaltending. After the departure of Amanda Leveille two seasons ago, they’ve struggled to find an answer in net. Their team save percentage is .910, which is only a bit below league-average of .914, but it ranks them 24th among the 34 teams.
Also, no one seems to have noticed this, but the Gophers don’t have a single impressive win. They swept Minnesota-Duluth, but that was when the Bulldogs were still ranked and hadn’t completely outed themselves as a non-contender. Minnesota hasn’t actually defeated a team with a winning record, and the only one they’ve even played is Wisconsin. The best team they’ve beaten is Merrimack, who is 6-10-3. They’re floating by on the WCHA being pretty bad outside of Wisconsin. If North Dakota was still around and Minnesota-Duluth hadn’t dropped off so far, the Gophers wouldn’t even secure a home date for the WCHA tournament.
#9 Ohio State (11-3-4)
Hey, why is Ohio State ranked lower than Minnesota? Because they’re slightly statistically worse in pretty much every category. Ohio State is basically Minnesota, except they beat Minnesota, and also one maybe okay team in Robert Morris (who also beat them). They have played another team with a .500 record, but that’s RPI, who has played Yale and Brown a total of four times. Given that they aren’t even a lock to defeat St. Cloud State at home, the six games against Robert Morris, Minnesota, and Wisconsin aren’t looking good.
#10 Northeastern (10-9-2)
Jesus, are we going to buy on anyone? Yes. As I detailed earlier in the week, Northeastern’s inconsistency has largely boiled down to goaltending. The team looks pretty set to move forward with freshman Aerin Frankel and her gaudy .940 save percentage so the Huskies should start to be a little more reliable.
Though they did not fare well in their 7-3 loss to Boston College, they do have a win over Wisconsin and a draw against Clarkson (Frankel played in the former). The Huskies do have the Eagles three more times, one out of conference, and Providence to end the season, but after an underwhelming first half, they should be trending upward.
#11 Quinnipiac (10-7-2)
After they lost to Maine in the second game of the season, everyone has pretty much forgotten about the Bobcats, even though they are several games above .500. But…looking at the results, things get pretty rough. Losses to Maine, Providence, and Dartmouth among unranked teams, though the former two are above .500. Quinnipiac has also played several ranked teams with games against BC, Cornell, Colgate, Clarkson, and St. Lawrence, all on the road, only beating Clarkson in overtime. The Bobcats will see the last four in the second half of the season, but all at home.
#12 Maine (11-6-3)
A surprise contender in Hockey East considering the coaches’ poll picked them to finish dead last. Instead the Black Bears are fifth, three points ahead of the team behind them (with two games in hand) and one point behind the two teams in front of them, with one and three games in hand on them. Notably, Maine has the tiebreaker on one of those teams (Northeastern) with two wins and one loss in their season series.
The Black Bears actually have three results against ranked teams, with wins over Robert Morris and Quinnipiac, and a tie against Providence. None of those are terribly impressive, but in addition to their wins over Northeastern, the Black Bears look okay. Unfortunately they’ll end the season with Providence and Boston College and play 6 of their other 10 Hockey East games on the road. A few games above .500 feels about right for Maine.
Stay even or sell.
#13 St. Lawrence (7-6-3)
The Saints are a decent team that is struggling to execute in a few key areas. Their team save percentage is just .898, good for 32nd. Their power play is 22nd, and their penalty kill is 33rd. A lot of that is because they’ve played one of the hardest schedules, seeing Clarkson four times, Boston College twice, and Colgate and Cornell.
Heading into the second half of the season they play just two ranked teams (Colgate and Cornell) and have a total of eight games against Yale, Brown, Dartmouth, and Harvard.
#14 Boston University (6-8-3)
BU started the season 0-4-0 in Hockey East play and has gone 3-2-3 since. They are 3-3-2 against teams not named Boston College or Northeastern in the conference, which is just okay. That describes their statistical rankings in just about every arena, just okay. Outside of a 30th ranked penalty kill, they land between 7th (power play) and 20th (relative shots figures against all, and top teams) in everything else. They’re done with BC in-conference, so their schedule is pretty light.
Buy, but not, like, a lot.
#15 Minnesota-Duluth (9-10-0)
The Bulldogs started off ranked, then lost six in a row and haven’t done anything meaningful enough to recover since. The WCHA is bad, but 6 of their remaining 12 games are against Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio State.
I was wrong, this will not be a .500 team. SELL
#16 Harvard (6-4-1)
Unlike Minnesota, everyone sees right through Harvard and isn’t ranking them based on the past. It helps that they lost to Holy Cross. They’re above .500 but their remaining schedule is brutal with eight games against Colgate, Cornell, Clarkson, and St. Lawrence.
#18 New Hampshire (7-6-5)
The Wildcats are just above .500, largely on a pretty easy schedule which has had them play only one game against Providence (a loss) and none against Boston College. They also have a non-conference road date with Quinnipiac so staying above .500 seems tenuous at best.
#21 RPI (7-7-4)
A surprise team on this list, the Engineers do indeed sport a .500 record, including a 7-3-4 run since losing the first four games of the season. Unfortunately that’s largely because they haven’t yet played a single ranked opponent. Despite their easy schedule, the Engineers rank far down the list, and that’s because they’re still statistically unimpressive.
What RPI can do is tend goal, with a .941 save percentage (3rd), and the nation’s top penalty kill. That makes the Engineers dangerous. And while they haven’t played the top of the ECAC, they also haven’t played the bottom, with series against Union and Dartmouth, as well as underwhelming Harvard, looming on the second-half schedule. They hold the 6th seed in the ECAC based on tiebreakers, and that’s probably where they’ll end up.