Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Look Back at the Standings - Playoff Picture

As we sit in the week-long limbo between the end of the season and the first round of the playoffs, I sit at my desk, home sick from work, digging through some old posts. I opened up the preseason polls release by not only the media and the coaches, but also my own version.

Just for kicks and giggles, here are the three preseason polls (coaches, media, mine), along-side the actual season results.

Rank:Coaches PollMedia PollANHB PollCCHA Final Standings
2.Notre DameNotre DameMiamiMichigan State
3.MiamiMiamiNotre DameFerris State
4.Ohio StateOhio StateNorthern MichiganNorthern Michigan
5.Northern MichiganNorthern MichiganAlaskaAlaska
6.Nebraska-OmahaAlaskaOhio StateNebraska-Omaha
7.AlaskaNebraska-OmahaMichigan StateMichigan
8.Ferris StateMichigan StateNebraska-OmahaOhio State
9.Michigan stateFerris StateWestern MichiganNotre Dame
10.Lake SuperiorWestern MichiganFerris StateLake Superior
11.Western MichiganLake SuperiorBowling GreenBowling Green
12.Bowling GreenBowling GreenLake SuperiorWestern Michigan

As you can see, everyone was way off. Now, not to toot my own horn or nothing, but I more accurately predicted positions than the other 2 preseason polls. The only thing is, nobody envisioned the field that the CCHA is in now. Everybody picked Michigan first. Did anybody think they were going to fall to 7th? NO! Same with Notre Dame, all of the polls had Notre Dame in the top 3. Where did they land? 9th!

All of this just proves the point I'm trying to make that these pre-season polls really do mean exactly nothing. Michigan State was ranked 9,8,7 respectively, and ended up in 2nd. Just because your team is expected to fall in the standings, definitely doesn't mean that they will.

After making a bout to take the NCAA crown last year, I knew Miami would be blood-thirsty to get there again, and with just 2 losses in conference, and with just 5 overall, I wouldn't be surprised if they make it there again.

But first, they will have to make it through the Nanooks. As far as I'm concerned, Alaska is the team to beat right now. Currently on an 8 game unbeaten streak (second longest in NCAA, behind #1 ranked Denver), the Nanooks have outscored their opponents 29-12 over that span. Freshman Andy Taranto, paired right along side senior center Dion Knelsen and junior winger Dustin Sather, this line has produced 17 of those 29 goals over the past 8 games.

The Nanooks have been nothing short of spectacular on defense. They opened up a little bit during that first game in Anchorage, allowing 4 goals for the first time since that weekend against Miami. But including that Anchorage game, the Nanooks have only allowed 12 goals in 8 games, an average of 1.5 per game, while scoring 3.625 goals per game. The defense is ultimately led with the goaltender, Scott Greenham. Scottie has been stellar in net mostly all season. He's had some bumps in the road, but only in his sophomore season, Greenham has 1999:07 worth of playing time between the pipes thus far, 53 seconds shy of 2000 minutes, 2nd most of any goaltender in division one college hockey, and with number one, Bryan Hogan of Michigan out with a groin injury, if Scottie plays every game against Western this weekend, Greenham will be number one in this category.

I, for one, am extremely excited for post-season hockey. The Nanooks are on a huge roll right now, and there is not a better time for that to happen. With the Nanooks at the top seed for the first round, the road to "the Joe" is a little longer than it was last year. With the work that they've put together thus far, and the prowess that they've demonstrated on both sides of the puck, its going to get interesting.

With the Nanooks headed into the CCHA playoffs sitting inside the fold of an NCAA tournament bid (first in program history), its a great time to be a Nanook fan.

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