Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The MacNaughton Cup: What’s Left

The race for the MacNaughton has come down to three weekends of WCHA action. The top three teams are separated by one point. My new favorite website Playoff Status gives the following % chance of teams winning the WCHA: North Dakota, 48%; Wisconsin, 30%; Denver, 20%; minnesota and Colorado College, each 1%. Though the gophers and Tigers don’t have much of a statistical chance, I’ve included them anyway. Duluth and St. Cloud each still have a remote chance (less than 1%), but a miracle would realistically need to occur for them to take the league.

The following are the remaining schedules and SOS (based on opponents winning % during WCHA games) for each of these five teams.

North Dakota: @ UAA, vs CC, @ UW; SOS 0.522 (30-27-12)
Denver: @ UW, vs St. Cloud, vs CC*; SOS 0.565 (35-26-8)
Wisconsin: vs DU, @ Mankato, vs UND; SOS 0.565 (35-26-8)
CC: vs minnesota, @ UND, @ DU*; SOS 0.612 (36-21-10)
minnesota: @ CC, vs Duluth, @ Tech; SOS 0.406 (20-33-16)
*CC visits DU for a single game the last weekend

North Dakota and Wisconsin control their own destinies. I remember saying early in the season that their series to end the regular season was going to be big. At the time I thought it would be to decide which ones gets home ice, now it could definitely decide the MacNaughton. Let’s not jump ahead though. CC has the hardest road, and they usually suck one night of a series. On the flip side, minnesota has by far the easiest road. If they were to get hot, and perhaps if they pulled Soft Goal Wangas, they could potentially win out. Somewhere in between UND, UW or DU should be the next WCHA Champ.

Wisconsin is the only team to have four home games; they need to make the most of this opportunity. 36 points could be enough to hoist the Cup, its going to quite the race to see how this finishes.