After Casey DeSmith continued his string of brilliant play, the Hockey East power rankings look a bit different up top.
Last Sunday, Boston College strolled into Agganis Arena and walked out with a convincing 4-2 victory, in which they were only tied for the opening 53 seconds of the game. This Sunday, UNH did the same thing, only Casey DeSmith's team - and the Wildcats very much are Casey DeSmith's team right now - only allowed one goal to the 11th-ranked Terriers. It doesn't really matter what happened in the rest of the conference, because most of the next three months will see us talking about Boston College and UNH. Without further ado, this week's power rankings:
1. New Hampshire
If you were watching two months ago, Dick Umile was confident that he had a good team, but often found himself wondering "where the offense was going to come from." Right now, it doesn't matter. DeSmith's allowed three goals in the team's last six games, including four shutouts, and the Wildcats have won four in a row, outscoring opponents 14-1 in the process. And if you want to argue that BC should still be here, you may be right (they are 7-1 against common opponents, where UNH is 5-1-1), but consider this: in those eight games against common opponents, the Eagles have allowed 16 goals. In all ten of their games, UNH has allowed just 12.
2. Boston College
Now that my affection for defense has been unveiled, it's tough to believe that the Eagles wouldn't be able to push a few past DeSmith (their 34 goals for this season trump UNH's 32 and their depth at offense is very well-documented), but it'll be another 8 weeks before we know that for sure, and BC just might be looking up at the 'Cats until then.
3. Boston University
The Terriers have looked good against lesser competition, but haven't been able to handle better teams (0-3 against higher-ranked competition, with a -6 goal differential in those three games), and we've seen enough by now to know that that's who they're going to be this season.
The Friars are here after proving that they can put pucks in the net (a big 6-2 win against Northeastern Friday night showcased Derek Army's offensive prowess) as well as having shown that they can get strong goaltending from Jon Gillies (Calgary Flames). The question is, can they put both together?
After the Riverhawks get done with their fundraiser to buy a new scoreboard for the Mullins Center, there's a chance that this team just might able to catch back up to their preseason expectations.
The Warriors had a 3-0 lead against BC early, but couldn't stop the machine on Friday night at Kelley Rink. Right now, Mark Dennehy's squad looks like a lower-tier version of BU - the talent is there, but the chemistry just hasn't developed yet.
The Minutemen have played BC tough twice, have been the only team to beat UNH and recently gave Providence the noogies, but a 2-2 tie against a Maine team whose struggles have been readily apparent and have been wildly inconsistent otherwise.
It's been a promising few weekends for the Black Bears, who have earned points in consecutive conference games, but there's still a long way to go for Tim Whitehead's team.
The Cats are always feisty at home, but they were dispatched easily by BU on Friday night and barely scraped past a Northeastern team that's bad and playing worse right now. It's gotta be tough for Kevin Snedden to recruit the type of talent that he wants with weekends like that.
Remember when the Huskies were climbing the rankings after back-to-back wins against Merrimack and Boston College? That feels like years ago now, as Jim Madigan's team hasn't won a conference game since early October, can't keep guys on the roster and got whitewashed by Providence on Friday night before having their winning streak at the Gut ended on Sunday night.