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INCH Archive: Chats
Joe Gladziszewski (2:30 PM)
It's playoff time in college hockey, and the INCH staff is here to take your questions about what's gone down so far and what we can expect in the playoffs as we prepare for the NCAA Tournament. We'll be taking your questions for the next 30 minutes.
Chris (Waltham, MA)
Is the UMass-Northeastern playoff series ripe for an upset by the Minutemen?
Jeff Howe (2:31 PM)
Not just that series, which UMass won, 2-1-0 in the regular season. I think BU is the only team that is a lock to win this weekend. The other three series look very wide open. I'd still take Northeastern in three games, though.
Do you think if cornell sweeps this weekend they are in the national tournament, if not what would they have to do to make sure they are in.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:33 PM)
I think a sweep would make them worthy of a tournament bid, but a lot of things are based on what happens in other tournaments and what happens with Cornell's opponents from outside of the league. The only true way for Cornell to make sure it's in the NCAAs is to win the ECAC Hockey title and earn the automatic qualifier.
Munson (Mission Hill)
Can NU bounce back after the disappointment of missing out on a wire to wire regular season championship on the season's last day
Jeff Howe (2:35 PM)
I keep pointing to the Beanpot as a reference to how Northeastern handles pressure. Granted, that pressure is a bit different from the disappointment they're forced to overcome, but it's still a sign of a mature group with steady leadership. I think the Huskies will be just fine.
What are the chances Minnesota-Duluth upsets Colorado College?
Jess Myers (2:36 PM)
The Bulldogs won and tied in Colorado Springs earlier this season, so it's not like there's no chance, but Minnesota Duluth heads into the playoffs with zero momentum, having gone 0-3-2 in their last five games, and letting leads slip away in all of them. With CC playing much better in the past few weeks, I'm not expecting an upset.
Mark, Fargo, ND
Instead of a usual Sioux question I want to know this: What is the over/under for total NCAA tournament victories for the ECAC this year?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:38 PM)
Depending on how many teams make it ... say 2.5. Looking at Cornell, Yale and Princeton, they're probably going to be in the 3-4 seed range. Yale's playing close to home in Bridgeport. Are those teams good enough to beat a No. 2 seed? Absolutely. Are the other 2 and 3 seeds from other leagues good enough to beat those three teams? Sure. St. Lawrence will be a dangerous team if they make it in too.
Drew (Lakewood CO)
What do you think is going to happen with the first round with the WCHA. Do you think all the tops seeds will make it to St. Paul or not, which ones and why? And what are the chances or the Gophers making the NCAA tournament?
Jess Myers (2:39 PM)
If the Gophers get to the Final Five, their chances are pretty good. But that's still a big if, with a dangerous St. Cloud State team visiting this weekend. As for round one, I'm picking two upsets -- Minnesota State over Wisconsin (the Badgers haven't played well for a month, and the Mavs are the hotter team) and Alaska Anchorage over Denver (the Seawolves are the hottest team in the league heading into the postseason). Still, look for Denver to make the NCAA tournament and even make some noise there (2004, anyone?).
Can either BC or Mass-Lowell get an invite to the dance without running the table and winning the Hockey East Championship. Looks probably not for RiverHawks, but possible for BC if they got to the final game and other teams fell.
Jeff Howe (2:40 PM)
You basically answered your own question, James. It doesn't look very likely for either team, but BC does have an outside chance. I really don't like their odds, though.
Eric (Fargo, ND)
What are the chances that Lucia gets fired as the coach of Minnesota if his team don't produce next season? Seems like the people in Mpls are getting ansy.
Jess Myers (2:42 PM)
There was a piece in the Minneapolis paper speculating about that very idea today. Men's hockey is generally the one island of stability in the Minnesota athletic department, so I think it would take more than mediocre play to force Lucia onto the unemployment line. But if his health continues to be an issue, all bets are off.
Ken (New Haven, CT)
Quinnipiac's Bryan Leitch has been a mainstay as the NCAA's leading scorer by a fairly wide margin this year. He will not make the top 3 for the Hobey Baker but what are his chances of finishing in the illustrious top 10?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:44 PM)
There's certainly a chance. It's hard to overlook his point totals. I don't think he'll be the ECAC Hockey player of the year, however, and that's usually a better criteria to look at when choosing which ECAC Hockey players make the list of the 10 Hobey finalists.
Ryan (Grand Forks, ND)
I don't get a chance to follow hockey out east but I saw Maine finished last in their conference. What happened to this program that always seemed to be in the Frozen Four? Thanks.
Jeff Howe (2:44 PM)
As a quick correction, Maine finished eighth out of 10 teams but is the last seed in the Hockey East playoffs. The Black Bears have gotten hit extremely hard in the last two years by graduation and early departures, so they're rebuilding more than reloading. While Tim Whitehead can plan for the heavy graduating classes, it's tough to overcome losing Teddy Purcell, Andrew Sweetland and Ben Bishop while competing in Hockey East.
Gopher Fan (Cambridge, MN)
So how can Minnesota get back to the way they were playing at the begging of the season? From the games I watched it seems that we can't get a full team effort? One night the top line will play amazing and the rest of the team will struggle and the next it will be the opposite.... and lastly do you think that Kangas is back to normal or will he continue to struggle?
Jess Myers (2:46 PM)
Getting a shutout in his last game has got to help his head, but I'm not quick to say that Alex Kangas is back to normal just because the game before that (the 6-5 overtime loss at Michigan Tech) was such a disaster. As for the Gophers overall, we know they can score goals, so defense and goaltending are clearly the cause of, and the solution to, all of their problems.
Billy (Watertown, CT)
Let's get the griping over. The Gophers are bubble team, and even if they play themselves in, a likely #4 seed. Is it really fair to a #1 seed to have to play that first game under those hostile conditions -- I guess only if it's Michigan -- payback for all those Yost hosts.
Mike Eidelbes (2:47 PM)
Is it fair? Theoretically, no. It would be an advantage for Minnesota to play a team like, say, Cornell on the big sheet at Mariucci. But the Gophers are a probable 4 seed (if they get in), and any of the 1 seeds would likely be able to handle them regardless of site.
Is Yale guaranteed a spot in the tourney? Or do they need to make the ECAC Semis/Finals?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:48 PM)
Again, it depends on what happens elsewhere and which teams' fortunes rise and fall over the next two weekends. Wins this weekend would make Yale look pretty good for the NCAAs, regardless of what would happen in Albany next week.
Paul Mesa, AZ
Odds on Michigan getting to the frozen four as well as winning the whole thing?
Mike Eidelbes (2:49 PM)
Pretty solid odds to get to the Frozen Four. Their biggest hurdle might be getting the top seed in Minneapolis, as we currently project, and meeting up against a No. 2 seed in North Dakota. They're just below the BU-Notre Dame stratosphere, and the return of a healthy Mark Mitera is huge.
Scott (Chicago, IL)
What will it take for Michigan State to return their program to an elite level?
Mike Eidelbes (2:51 PM)
The Spartans just lost too many impact guys all at once -- Abdelkader, Kennedy, and Ratchuk were early departures, they graduated a nice bunch of seniors last year, lost Tropp and Conboy because of suspension, had a couple defections, and injury troubles as well. The cupboard's not bare -- Petry and Leveille are nice cornerstones around which to build -- but they've got to replace Jeff Lerg and find some additional scoring.
Does the ECAC have the depth top to bottom to justify 4 teams in the NCAAs with teams like Harvard at 5th with no out of ECAC wins?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:52 PM)
The strength of the top teams is what justifies teams earning NCAA tournament spots. Michigan Tech and Merrimack don't really affect what I think of North Dakota or Boston University.
Crew (Ann Arbor)
I noticed in your 4x4 Projection they list Michigan in the #1 for Minnesota. The person writing also says he would like to see that happen for North Dakota to pay back Michigan for all those times they played at Yost as a #3 and went to the Frozen Four. First of all Michigan was shipped to play N.D. in N.D. in the first game in 2006 and then same with 2005 only it was at UNH against UNH. Why was this comment necessary? Thanks for the response.
Mike Eidelbes (2:55 PM)
The comment referred to 2002 and 2003, when Michigan beat top seeds Denver and Colorado College at Yost to advance to the Frozen Four. Plus, 2001 when they beat St. Cloud State at Grand Rapids. And don't forget 1998, when a lower-seeded Wolverine team beat NoDak at Yost en route to the national title. There was a string of years when Michigan got a bunch of favorable bounces as a lower seed.
Danny (Redding, CT)
BU just won the best league in the country, has a 14-3-3 record against TUCs, a perfect PWR, and dominating leads in the RPI and KRACH - why do you have Notre Dame #1?
Mike Eidelbes (2:56 PM)
Why even have an NCAA Tournament when we have math? How many games did PWR, RPI, and KRACH watch this year? BU is great, no question. But the Irish play with a little more discipline on defense and with regard to penalties, they're more experienced than the Terriers, and I think Pearce is a slightly better goalie than Millan. Those three advantages, however slight, are enough for me to give Notre Dame the edge.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:57 PM)
Same here, in backing up what Bus said ... Notre Dame is kind of like a "better" Northeastern, and Northeastern is just slightly behind BU as proven all year long. We think Notre Dame would win a seven-game series between the teams, and that's why we've got the Irish ranked No. 1.
Derrick, Fargo, ND
What kind of blueprint is needed to take down both Boston U and Notre Dame? Obviously no team possesses what takes to beat them now, or both respective clubs would have more losses, but what clubs possess the necessary ingredients to cause an upset? Thanks
Mike Eidelbes (2:59 PM)
The easiest way is to have your goaltender steal a game. A team like Michigan is dangerous because they can score in bunches and are solid defensively, and I think North Dakota matches up well with both because they're tough, experienced, play well as a team, and always find a way to win.
Chad (StP, MN)
For all of you, pick your upset special for each league tourney.
Jess Myers (3:00 PM)
My upset special (which I mentioned a little bit earlier) is Alaska Anchorage over Denver. The Seawolves have a great top line, and with Bryce Christiansen playing well in goal of late, they're a complete team. Not that Denver isn't rock-solid, but I anticipate a great three-game series with the Seawolves winning a close one on Sunday.
Jeff Howe (3:00 PM)
UMass Lowell (at Vermont) has the best chance to win on the road this weekend in Hockey East.
Joe Gladziszewski (3:01 PM)
I'll go with Union over Princeton, because I think they're similar teams and Union's eighth-place finish was not reflective of how good they are. I think Princeton is the best team in the league, but also think Union is the best of the four road teams this week.
Mike Eidelbes (3:02 PM)
in the CCHA ... Northern Michigan over Miami.
Joe Gladziszewski (3:02 PM)
Thanks for the great questions, and be sure to check out the latest Hobey Tracker, INCH 4x4 and conference playoff previews at insidecollegehockey.com. Tomorrow morning we'll have season wrap-up notebooks from all six leagues.