The Northeast Regional will be played in Manchester, New Hampshire, just about an hour's drive up I-95 for the Boston University Terriers. The Yale Bulldogs must travel a little farther, about three hours by bus. The Duluth Bulldogs are going to have to catch a flight, as will the Minnesota Golden Gophers. While the differences in the teams' travel plans are significant, the differences on the stat sheet are much less so.
Here's a look at the Corsi For % of the four teams in the regional in descending order: 54.6%, 54.5%, 54.4%, 54.2%. As you might expect from such similar percentages, the teams all attempted just about the same number of shots over the season, and allowed just about the same number of shots to opponents. The only exception here is Yale, who played five fewer games than BU and six fewer than Duluth and Minnesota. These are four puck possession teams.
Slight differences start to emerge as you get more in depth into Corsi. Duluth leads the way in possession at even strength by just a hair, but they give that possession back on special teams. In close games, BU leads the regional in possession and Yale lags a little behind the rest. But theses are not huge differences we're taking about.
Looking at Fenwick, some bigger differences start to emerge. The Gophers tend to have more shots blocked the the other squads, so their Fenwick numbers are a little worse than Corsi. Their offensive numbers are balanced by their dedication to blocking shots on the other end of the ice.
Yale is actually the best Fenwick team on paper. However, some of that might be the result of their scheduling. They played the 41st ranked schedule by KRACH. By comparison, BU played the 18th, Minnesota the 16th, and Duluth played the most competitive schedule in the nation. Yale's schedule was nearly 20% easier than BU's.
Yale's SOS drags down their KRACH rating. In fact, ifselection was based on KRACH, rather than the Pairwise PWR Rankings, Yale would be ranked 18th, and out of the tournament. The other teams would be safely in the tourney: BU ranked 5th (but bumped out of a regional 1 seed), Duluth ranked 7th, and Minnesota ranked 10th. So, Yale has some work to do to advance out of this regional.
They actually have a pretty tough task in front of them just advancing out of the first game against BU (which they've shown a propensity to do, historically [there, that counts as mentioning it. No more.]). Using the KRACH Ratings, you would expect the Terriers to beat the Bulldogs 66.37% of the time.
The game between 2-seed Duluth and 3-seed Minnesota is much closer, as you would expect. The Bulldogs would be expected to win 58.75% of games. Their 3-1 record against the Gophers sort of bears-out that probability, especially with two of their wins coming with a 2-1 score line.
Using the four KRACH ratings, I ran 10,000 simulations to get an idea of who has the best chance of advancing out of this tight bracket. The stats kind of tied my hands in this, because Corsi and Fenwick didn't provide me with any great revelations because the teams are so similar in these categories.
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BU, with their KRACH Rating of 375.5, advanced to the Frozen Four in a plurality of simulations, 36.9% of the time.
Duluth has a rating of 339.5, and advanced 30.7% of the time.
Minnesota's rating of 238.4 saw them through to Boston in 18.7% of my simulations.
Yale brought up the caboose and advanced in only 13.7% of simulations.
Keep in mind that KRACH Ratings are based entirely on a team's complete body of work.
In Minnesota's case, the Ratings do not take into account that the Gophers are probably the hottest team in college hockey, with a record of 12-3-1 in the last 16 games, sealing the Big Ten Regular Season and Tournament Championships.
The ratings do not take into account that Duluth has only won seven of their last sixteen, with two ties, and were unceremoniously dispatched from the NCHC tournament by Denver.
The ratings do not take into account that Yale was on a pretty good tear themselves, until they ran into a buzzsaw Harvard team that eventually won the ECAC Tournament.
As for BU, the Ratings pretty much recognize that they've had one hell of a good season, which culminated in their Hockey East Regular Season and Tournament Champions.
So there you have it: the Northeast Regional. Four solid statistical teams who appear to play a pretty similar brand of possession hockey. This should be a fun regional to watch because it's so difficult to handicap.