Preview and Picks for 2015 Women’s Hockey East Playoffs
A great preview and potential outcome for the 2015 Women's Hockey East Playoffs by Alongtheboards.com. This article outlines the quarterfinal bracket and has great insight for each head to head series. Who do you think will survive round 1?
1. Boston College vs. 8. Providence
BC lowdown: Nothing is more nightmarish for a defending team than letting puck-carriers and/or prospective pass recipients come between the backcheckers and the backstop. No strike force in this circuit, player for player and unit for unit, instills that sense of helplessness as proficiently as that of the Eagles. In turn, they can and will wear down less talented conglomerations through quantitative and qualitative possession.
Providence lowdown: Pride and valiance are immovable staples under the watch of 16-year coaching veteran Bob Deraney. The Friars flaunted flickers of those qualities in a 4-2 home loss to BC in late January, and have consistently brought it to the postseason. But a shuffle in the balance of power has simply started to overrule them in recent years.
Bottom line: When these teams clash, their positional sharpness in each other’s zones bears a discrepancy on a par with samurai swords and butter knives. The Eagles use their talent to willingly buy space for creativity on offense and constrict their plebeian opponents upon entry to goaltender Katie Burt’s neighborhood.
Prediction: BC in two
2. Boston University vs. 7. Vermont
BU lowdown: For all of BC’s depth, piloted by league-leading producers Alex Carpenter and Haley Skarupa, Terriers captain Marie-Philip Poulin remains the league’s most lethal individual threat on any given shift, and more than enough of her potion has spread to Sarah Lefort. Behind them, a seasoned blue-line brigade featuring three seniors and two juniors should feel freshly battled-tested after dealing with the Eagles to close out the regular season.
Vermont lowdown: This program was primed to take another stride after putting in its first Women’s Hockey East semifinal appearance last season. But in contrast to a 9-3-1 interleague ride, a wretched start to their conference schedule complicated the Catamounts’ endeavor for a more favorable seed. But Amanda Pelkey, the program’s first ambassador to the international stage, and the rest of the seniors want anything but a whimper to wrap up their revolutionary legacy in Burlington.
Bottom line: With the same support that predecessor Roxanne Douville received 12 months ago, the aforementioned Litchfield should still have one more win in her sophomore campaign. Unfortunately for her, this is the first time the WHEA quarters are a best-of-three series, rather than a one-off bout, and BU has too much on its bench not to outlast its visitors over a full weekend.
Prediction: BU in three
3. Northeastern vs. 6. New Hampshire
Northeastern lowdown: The third Hockey East Hub club finished where most expected them to, though not necessarily in the expected fashion. NU underachieved for the better part of the regular season, their nadir being a 0-6-1 cold spell spanning late November through mid-January. But the Huskies have entered the postseason on a 3-0-1 unbeaten streak, most recently sweeping a home-and-home against none other than New Hampshire.
New Hampshire lowdown: First-year Wildcats coach Hilary Witt faces her alma mater, where she also served as an assistant on Dave Flint’s staff in 2010-11 and 2011-12. She is winless in her last four tangles with the Huskies, her most recent victory coming in a 2-0 road shutout during her Yale days on Jan. 2, 2009. Much of that ill fortune has been due to the defense’s inability to contain Coyne, who accounted for eight points in a cumulative 10-2 scoring differential in three regular-season meetings.
Bottom line: Coyne, a 2014 U.S. Olympian and potentially the next face her country’s IIHF program, was made for postseason prosperity. As long as she is facing an opponent that lacks a player of matching makeup or an effective shutdown squad, she should tip the scale in NU’s favor.
Prediction: Northeastern in two
4. Maine vs. 5. Connecticut
Maine lowdown: The Black Bears backed into the postseason on a six-game losing streak, which has served to drain much of the flavor from the program’s first-ever home playoff berth. As it happens, a two-game sweep by these UConn Huskies at Alfond Arena this past weekend set up a prompt rematch for the playoffs. Although, senior goaltender Meghann Treacy, who boasts a sparkling .930 save percentage, did not play in Sunday’s 6-2 loss.
Connecticut lowdown: With six seniors and one junior all having played more than 100 collegiate games, the Huskies have an underrated wealth of experience. More importantly, those seven skaters have accounted for the bulk of the team’s production, particularly down the stretch of the regular season.
Bottom line: The Black Bears were undoubtedly deflated in the regular-season finale, conceding a 6-2 decision the day after UConn’s frenzied rally to a 2-1 overtime victory. Maine might ride enough pride to defend its domain on its first do-or-die try, but the visitors have too many determined and self-assured veterans to overcome through the rubber match.
Prediction: Connecticut in three
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