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This Feels More Familiar

What a difference a week makes.

With MC-UML the only matchup that wasn't a tie, everybody manages to pick up points except Merrimack, dropping the team into 8th place.

Ouch.

Good news?

Games in hand against BC, BU (3) Maine, NU, and UNH (2) as well as UVM (1). The only team with fewer league games played to date in Hockey East is about the only team that is hands-down in a worse position than MC right now: Providence, with five games played and only one point to show for it.

While being near the bottom of the hole looking up might feel more familiar to fans, let's hope it lights a fire under the team. They've been perfect at home and also perfect on the road-- just in opposite ways. They've yet to lose at home and have yet to win on the road, and next up are the surprisingly first-placed UNH Wildcats-- tied for first with BC with 10 points each, but holding a game in hand over the Eagles.

UNH also hasn't done that well away from home, but they have done better than the Warriors. They also lost 6-3 to the River Hawks at Lowell, just like Merrimack did. They did, however, manage a tie against BU at Agganis where MC couldn't quite manage it, and got a split against Amherst, whom the Warriors have yet to play. At Wisconsin they got their heads handed to them by a collective score of 10-2 over two games.

UNH has taken advantage of parity in the league the way Merrimack has done, taking games from BU, Maine, NU and UMass-Amherst. All of those wins were at home except one, and away from home, UNH is 1-2-1. That's better than 0-3 (a win and a half better).

Sin Bin

You'd think the game might come down to special teams again, but the numbers say otherwise. True, Merrimack's power play is converting at a pace that is 10% better than the Wildcats-- 27.6% to 17.5%.

In league-only play, the advantage is a bit less stark-- 31.2% for the Mack compared to 24.1%.

While UNH's powerplay has been better in the league than overall, their penalty kill has been worse. A 75.4% kill in all games becomes only 67.6% in HE games-- compared to the Warriors' marks of 83% and 80%.

However, Merrimack averages a bit under 9 penalties per league game, whereas UNH averages a much more sedate 4.75.

If all those trends continue-- and they can, since UNH's powerplay is already weaker than the average Merrimack opponent, and MC's powerplay is actually not quite as good as the average UNH opponent-- we'd expect UNH to get 9 powerplays and score one goal, and Merrimack to get four powerplays and also score one goal-- so it's a statistical wash on that front.

Merrimack is neutralizing their better special-teams play by getting penalized too often, turning what should be an advantage into a non-factor.