NCHC Awards and NCAA Bubbles

A lot has happened since my last post. I still podcast weekly so make sure you subscribe on iTunes and podbean if you want the extended version of this blog.

The conference tournaments are all set and there are a lot of interesting possibilities that may become a factor. Here are some random thoughts I have for everyone to chew on.

The NCHC announced its All-Conference Teams and revealed finalist for Individual Awards.

I was a little surprised to see Charlie Lindgren finish ahead of Cam Johnson in All-Conference. Not to say it isn’t deserving, but nearly all stats sits in favor of Cam Johnson. In conference games (which I always use for All-Conference teams. It just makes more sense to me), Johnson has a 13-3 record with 1.80 goals against average and a .935 save percentage. He also has four shutouts to his credit. While Lindgren’s numbers are nothing to swing a dead cat at (17-6-1, .927 save percentage, 2.11 GAA, 1 SO), they are clearly inferior.

The only thought process would be the makeshift of the defensive core. Look at the early season rise of Matt Hrynkiw. The walk-on went 6-1-1 to start the season. The defensive core for North Dakota has a lot more experience than the St. Cloud State defensive core. With that line of thinking, Lindgren ‘did more with less’ and got more of the votes. I can’t think of any other way.

If that is the case, it is a pretty poor argument but the best I can come up with. That ties into the fact that both are up for goaltender of the year and I can’t see a second-team All-Conference getting it over the first-team goaltender, but stranger things have happened. I wouldn’t say the Johnson got robbed, but it was an outcome the numbers don’t agree.

I like to play around with the Pairwise Predictors once all the conferences get to the knockout stages. However, there seems to be a much lower amount of bubble teams this year than in previous years. According to the CHN Probability Matrix, the top 12 teams are essentially locks. With the highest Atlantic Hockey team (Robert Morris) at 21 and unable to move up to 16, that moves the cut line up.

The WCHA is in the same predicament, but is in slightly better shape. Michigan Tech currently sits at 14, but the next WCHA team is Minnesota State at 25. Its still possible, however unlikely, that Michigan Tech can get in without winning the WCHA tournament, but those chances are slim.

That means those two conferences will only have the automatic qualifier in the NCAA tournament, which means the cut line is really at 14. Life on the bubble is even more fragile with only two spots up for grabs.

That is where the Big Ten enters. They, also, currently have one team in with Michigan sitting comfortably at seven. If a team other than Michigan wins the Big Ten, which will take another bubble spot. With the unpredictability of the teams in that conference (and Steve Racine in net), I’d be nervous if I’m on the bubble.

I’ll play around with the predictor once it goes live, but Minnesota Duluth and Northeastern are in the best position to pad its case for the NCAA tournament. Northeastern has only lost once since December 6th, an amazing turnaround after winning only once in its first 14 games. Minnesota Duluth is also playing very well lately, winning its last six straight. Both have the opportunity to take any chance out of the equation by winning its respective conference tournament.

That is it for now. I’ll play with the predictor when it comes live later tonight. Please subscribe and rate the podcast. More than just Husky Hockey talk! Thanks for stopping by.