Home Ice? Northeastern’s Final Weekend Scenarios By the Numbers

With one weekend remaining in the regular season, Northeastern currently sits in eighth place with a trip to Orono, Maine and the Alfond looming before the calendar turns over to playoff season. Today, we’ll take a look at where the Huskies will finish in the Hockey East Standings and who they might match up against, based on how they perform this weekend.

First, let’s introduce the five key players.

Current Hockey East Standings
Team Points Opponent
6. Vermont 22 Merrimack
7. Merrimack 20 Vermont
8. Northeastern 19 Maine
9. New Hampshire 18 UConn
10. UConn 16 UNH

As you can see, the teams Northeastern is battling against are all playing against each other this weekend. This is both a blessing and a curse, as it limits the amount of points up for grabs and guarantees some teams around NU will  lose, but also guarantees the four teams will combine to pick up eight points. Keep in mind that UVM and UNH hold tiebreakers over NU, while NU holds them over Merrimack and UConn. Three-or-more way ties have all been calculated and can be assumed to follow the same heirarchy unless stated otherwise.

We’re going to order the scenarios by NU’s performance against Maine, so we’ll start with the ideal scenario, a sweep.

Northeastern Sweeps Maine (23 Points)

The best case scenario is also the easiest one to explain. An NU sweep of Maine would bring them to 23 points on the season, and lock them into 7th place. This is because neither UConn nor UNH can pass them, while they are guaranteed to pass one of UVM or Merrimack. NU will pass UVM if Merrimack sweeps UVM, otherwise they will pass Merrimack. As such, NU will play the 10th place team, which is the loser of the UConn/UNH series. (If the series is split, UConn will remain in 10th.)

(Note: It is mathematically possible for NU to finish sixth, but this occurs in one single scenario and involves UMass sweeping Providence, among other things. Thus, it has been ignored, because UMass has just 2 Hockey East victories this season.)


Northeastern Picks Up 3 Points (22 Points)

The good news is, 3 points still puts NU in a pretty good spot. The bad news is, they can no longer pass UVM. The worse news is, it’s possible for them to fall to 9th place and have to face a road game.

NU Finishes 7th if:

UVM Gets 2+ Points AND UConn Gets 1+ Points

UVM getting a split means Merrimack maxes out at 22 points, and thus falls behind NU. UNH dropping a point to UConn maxes them out at 21, also behind NU. Thus, NU finishes in seventh place. They would, like above, face the loser of the UConn/UNH series. This is still a scenario NU fans have to like, as it’s hard to imagine UVM failing to take 2 points from a Merrimack team that never led Maine all of last weekend while at home. While it is certainly possible that UConn will get swept, you also can’t imagine them rolling over and essentially giving up on their season at this point.

NU Finishes 8th if:

UVM Gets 2+ Points OR UConn Gets 1+ Points

This is the same scenario as above, with one team failing their goal. If UVM fails their half, Merrimack stays ahead of NU and NU will host the UNH/UConn winner. If UConn is swept, UNH will pass NU, who will then host Merrimack.

NU Finishes 9th if:

NEITHER UVM gets 2+ Points NOR UConn Gets 1+ Points

Same story as above, but a road game is the result if Merrimack and UNH both come through. They both pass NU, who would travel to Lake Whitt to take on UNH at the site of their 2014 Hockey East Quarterfinal loss.

NU Splits Maine (21 Points)

Now we’re getting into questionable territory. Conveniently enough, the NU 20-22 point scenarios are all exactly the same as far as the teams involved are concerned, we’re just going to change the cutoffs in order to compensate for NU dropping another point.

NU Finishes 7th if:

UVM Gets 3+ Points AND UConn Gets 2+ Points

Same as above, but now that NU is at 21, we cap MC at 21 and UNH at 20. Getting these both to happen, and thus hosting the UNH/UConn loser, would be tough.

NU Finishes 8th if:

UVM Gets 3+ Points OR UConn Gets 2+ Points

This is probably the most likely ending, where NU gets one series to fall their way but not both. NU would play whichever of Merrimack/UNH failed to pass them, or UConn if they got 3+ points from UNH.

NU Finishes 9th if:

NEITHER UVM gets 3+ Points NOR UConn Gets 2+ Points

Once again, NU is failed by the out-of-town scoreboard. Their reward is a trip to Durham, unless Merrimack splits AND UNH sweeps, in which case they would instead travel to Lawler Rink in North Andover.

NU Ties One Game (20 Points)

We’re quickly entering disaster territory here, but with Maine playing at home, anything can happen.

NU Finishes 7th if:

UVM Sweeps AND UConn Gets 3+ Points

It’s hard to picture either of these things happening, considering how cold UConn has been, how cold UVM has been, and how hot Merrimack has been (Maine series notwithstanding, although Merrimack did get 3 points). But hey, anything can happen. In this scenario, NU faces UNH at home.

NU Finishes 8th if:

UVM Sweeps OR UConn Gets 3+ Points

It was hard to picture both of these happening, but there’s a chance of getting one of them. If UVM sweeps, NU would host Merrimack. If UConn comes through, NU would host their fellow Huskies.

NU Finishes 9th if:

NEITHER UVM Sweeps NOR UConn Gets 3+ Points

This is very possible and I’d guess it’s more likely NU finishing seventh or eighth. Here, NU will again go on the road to face either Merrimack or UNH. With Merrimack able to pick up 1-4 points and UNH able to pick up 2-4, there are a number of ways things can shake out between them, but NU will travel to the worse seeded of the two.

Maine Sweeps Northeastern (19 Points)

Believe it or not, NU can still get home ice in this scenario. They can no longer pass Merrimack, so now we’re looking at just the UNH/UConn series.

Option 1: UConn Sweeps

UConn then finishes with 20 points, sending NU to 9th, where they will travel to the XL Center to face off against their fellow Huskies.

Option 2: UNH Splits or Better

Now UNH finishes with 20 or more points, and NU heads to either Lake Whitt or to Merrimack, depending on how the Warriors fared.

Option 3: UConn Picks up 3 Points

Here’s the fun one. UConn picking up three points leaves a three way tie for 8th, with NU, UNH, and UConn all sitting on 19 points. The round-robin tiebreaker is:

19 Point Tiebreaker
NU 2-1-1
UNH 1-1-2
UConn 1-2-1

As a result of their tiebreaker win, NU takes eighth place. They host UConn, as after NU breaks the first tie, UConn takes 9th place via their series victory over UNH.

There you have it folks. Looking at this, my magic number for NU this weekend is 3 points. Once you get below that, you’re leaving your fate in the hands of destiny. Hopefully the Huskies take care of business and don’t leave me – and all of you loyal readers – constantly referring back to this page throughout the weekend. Look out for our Maine series preview tomorrow, and as always, Go Huskies!