Friday, March 02, 2007

It's The Playoffs- Let's Get It On!!!!

Can't wait- here we go- ECACHL playoffs live and direct to your face!!!! Let's see if Appert can get the lads playing consistent and get the series from those terrible Gaters.

USCHO's Take:
No. 9 Rensselaer 6-11-5 (10-16-8) @ No. 8 Colgate 7-12-3 (13-19-4)
Head-to-head Split the league series 1-1-0, Rensselaer wins season series 2-1-0.Rensselaer on the road 3-5-3 (4-7-3 overall)Colgate at home 5-5-1 (7-6-1 overall)Special teams power play: RPI, 10th — 13.8% (15.4) Colgate, 11th — 13.5% (14) penalty kill: RPI, 12th — 78.1% (79.5) Colgate, 4th — 85.3% (84.6)Team offense RPI, 10th — 2.50 (2.53) Colgate, 12th — 2.41 (2.53)Team defense RPI, 12th — 3.82 (3.62) Colgate, 4th — 2.73 (2.56)Key matchup Colgate's first line versus RPI's defense.
The Engineers won the Governor's Cup back at the end of October with a 2-1 win over the Raiders. The 'Gate won their league home game over RPI 3-2 on December 2, but the 'Tute drew even on February 9 with a 3-2 overtime win at the Houston Field House. Despite Seth Appert's favored two-goalie approach at Rensselaer, the three games between these teams have all been Mathias Lange-Mark Dekanich showdowns.
Rensselaer started the Appert Era on the right foot, out of the gate with a 4-1-3 record including a win over Denver, the Governor's Cup, and a tie against Boston University. Since then, however, the team has gone 6-15-5, and has only put together back-to-back wins twice all season ... not the best sign entering a best-of-three series.
The Engineers are hardly rolling over, though; the team has fought for 12 points from its last 13 games, and has split its last seven road games with a 3-3-1 record. Lange has played in each of Rensselaer's last seven games, but was replaced in the season finale against Yale and came in to try to get the Engineers into the game in a loss to St. Lawrence on February 16.
Overall, this is a team that has a very good chance of winning the close games, but can get lit up when the defense is forced to push the envelope facing a deficit.
Colgate's story has been well-documented: the Raiders have not won a single game this season in which they've surrendered three or more goals. In 15 such contests, the team is 0-14-1. But look at the bright side: in the remaining games, the squad is 13-5-3, and 7-4-2 in ECACHL play.
The tormented team has fallen prey to the three-goal curse six times in 17 games since the conclusion of winter break, and sports a 6-9-2 record over that period. In what should come as no surprise, but still seems ironically fitting, the Raiders were 6-0-0 in that same time when scoring three-plus in a game.
Colgate has the horses to play the tight, low-scoring games — the Raiders have won four games and tied three others when maxing out at three goals' production — and they have scorers, too: three players averaging a point-per-game overall, and two more with a dozen goals apiece in league (Tyler Burton and Jesse Winchester). Mark Dekanich is still the reigning Dryden Award winner, last time I checked, and finished the season with the ECACHL's second-best save percentage, .923.
The Red Raiders have been a snakebitten team this season, in that the offense just hasn't connected with the frequency necessary to contend for a title. Dekanich, the defense, and the penalty kill have been stellar. But when your team's top scorers in league earn 28, 25, 19, 11, and eight points, you'd darn well better have a top-notch D-corps. When Colgate has lost, it's primarily been by losing the third period, and decisively so. The Raiders have been outscored 10-1 in the final frame of those last six three-goal-plus losses.
I think Colgate has an edge overall in this series, regardless of the results from their matchups earlier (which didn't demonstrate much in the first place). Colgate won't be tested much by an up-tempo but sniper-deficient Engineer offense, and the youth and inexperience on RPI's blue line — not to mention Colgate getting the last change — will probably give the Raiders enough opportunities to earn the ever-important third-period lead.

INCH's Take:

A tournament series between Rensselaer and Colgate isn't that big of a deal this season, considering that the ECACHL playoffs mark the third tournament this year that both teams have participated in. Each took part in the Governor's Cup in downtown Albany on Oct. 28-29 and the Rensselaer/Bank of America Holiday Tournament in Troy on Nov. 24-25.
Past ECACHL Notebooks ECACHL Season Preview Oct. 19 Notebook Oct. 26 Notebook Nov. 3 Notebook Nov. 10 Notebook Nov. 17 Notebook Dec. 1 Notebook Dec. 9 Notebook Mid-Season Report Jan. 11 Notebook Jan. 18 Notebook Jan. 26 Notebook Feb. 1 Notebook Feb. 8 Notebook Feb. 15 Notebook Feb. 22 Notebook
In-season tournaments defined the seasons for these two teams. While both finished the regular season with sub-.500 records overall and in the ECAC Hockey League, they had the chance to test themselves against many quality opponents in pressurized situations. Colgate played in four in-season tournaments and RPI competed in three.
Rensselaer faced Colgate in one of those games, the championship game of the Governor's Cup and won the inaugural event with a 2-1 victory. Dan Peace scored with 49 seconds left in regulation to give RPI the late lead that turned into a victory.
The Engineers celebrated the title on the ice at the then-Pepsi Arena (now Times Union Center) and got to experience a tournament title of any type for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
"It definitely helps you and it's part of the reason you appreciate playing in those tournaments. You get a sense of what it feels like to be in a situation where you need to win to advance, and to compete for a championship," RPI coach Seth Appert said.
The tournaments also fill a need for non-Ivy ECACHL teams, as was mentioned in an ECACHL Notebook earlier this season. Several teams need to find a significant number of non-league games, and making them as meaningful as possible can only help a team once the playoffs roll around.
"You can never mimic what playoff intensity is like and the sense of urgency that you need to have," Appert said. "But with 12 non-league games for the non-Ivy League teams there can be a mental letdown for the non-league games and you try to sprinkle in tournaments like those."
The Engineers were the last team to celebrate on ice in downtown Albany, and their quest for the opportunity to do that again begins this weekend.

No. 9 Renssselaer at No. 8 ColgateR: 10-16-8 (6-11-5 ECACHL)C: 13-19-4 (7-12-3 ECACHL)Season Series: RPI leads 2-1Engineer Fact: RPI has never lost a playoff series to Colgate, but two of those series wins came at Houston Field House.Raider Fact: Colgate's current four-game losing streak is its longest since the middle of the 2002-03 season.How RPI Wins: Get more shots to the net. They averaged just 22.3 shots on goal in the three regular-season games against Colgate.How Colgate Wins: Take advantage when down a man. The Raiders have a strong 84.6 percent penalty kill, and RPI has allowed the most short-handed goals against in the nation (12).