1. UMass-Lowell (7-2-1, 3-1-1 Hockey East): Not much can be said with certainty so far this season, but it looks like Lowell has become the clear early favorite atop the league. The Riverhawks had a strong weekend, sweeping Alabama-Huntsville by a combined 7-1 score. Lowell has the best 1-2 goalie tandem in the league with Nevin Hamilton and Carter Hutton.
2. Boston College (4-3-1, 3-3-1 Hockey East): The record is not sparkling, but the Eagles have all the makings of a team poised to win 25 games and go to the Frozen Four. Their back-to-back romps – 5-1 over Northeastern, 7-1 over Vermont – was reminiscent of 2001. But Sunday's 3-2 loss to UVM, featuring missed opportunities, an ineffective power play, and a lack of energy, looked more like 2008-2009.
3. Vermont (4-4-1, 3-3-1 Hockey East): The Catamounts started their season uncharacteristically, splitting a pair of track meets at Denver and playing a high-tempo game against BC in their home opening win. But after they got beat badly by BC on Saturday, Vermont returned to the style of hockey that's worked for them on Sunday, playing the trap and employing stingy defense to limit BC opportunities. It worked, and got the Cats a season series win over BC.
4. Massachusetts (7-2-0, 4-2-0 Hockey East): The Minutemen lead Hockey East, but they've yet to play UMass-Lowell, BC, or Vermont. This weekend, they split a two game home series with UNH. They travel to New Haven to face a very good Yale team on Thursday night, in a big early non-conference matchup.
5. Boston University (3-6-0, 2-5-0 Hockey East): The fact that BU's played seven Hockey East games and still can't get into gear seems to indicate that they're going through more than just early season championship hangover. They don't really deserve to be ranked in the top half of the conference, but with all of their injury problems, I suspect they'll be much better than they are now when finally healthy.
6. Merrimack (6-4-0, 3-2-0 Hockey East): It's been said time and time again, and will be said many times after this – Merrimack is solid this year, and cannot be taken lightly. They smoked BU on Friday night before coming back to earth at Agganis on Saturday. Merrimack now has wins over BC, BU and Vermont already this year; they look to be a certain top-8 team, and with so much parity in the league, they could contend for home ice.
7. UNH (3-6-2, 3-2-1 Hockey East): UNH has played quite well in conference so far this season, despite being winless in non-conference play. Saturday's win at UMass will be huge for goalie Brian Foster's confidence. Foster made 33 saves to hold off a barrage of UMass shots; the Minutemen outshot UNH 38-15, but the Wildcats won 4-2. He'll need the confidence boost, as UNH has allowed an astonishing 44 goals this year - that's 2nd in the nation only to Alaska-Anchorage (46).
8. Maine (4-6-0, 3-3-0 Hockey East): BC's next opponent comes off a split at Matthews Arena against Northeastern. Maine's four leading scorers are all freshmen or sophomores, including freshman Adam Shemansky, who leads the team with six goals. Their defense hasn't been great, conceding the second-most goals in the conference, but star forward Gustav Nyquist finally is having some of the scoring load taken off of him.
9. Northeastern (4-5-0, 2-4-0 Hockey East): Northeastern showed tremendous poise to rattle off four goals in the third period and beat Maine to earn a split on Saturday. They also chipped in three power play goals. Next up for NU is Providence; if they're a playoff team this year, this should be a chance for them to bank points.
10. Providence (5-3-0, 1-2-0 Hockey East): The Friars haven't played enough league games to really get a full gauge of them so far. They haven't been a bad team at all this year, with wins over UMass and Notre Dame. But someone has to be at the bottom, and based on their paucity of offensive weapons, the Friars will probably struggle in conference play.
1. UNH (8-1-3, 4-0-1 Hockey East): UNH's game this weekend at Vermont was canceled due to a swine flu outbreak in the UNH locker room.
2. Northeastern (8-2-2, 5-1-1 Hockey East): The Huskies have allowed just 11 goals in 12 games this year, a stat that looks even more insane every time you look at it.
3. BU (5-4-5, 3-3-1 Hockey East): BU knocked off UNH in a shootout last weekend, but they've been inconsistent this year.
4. BC (4-3-5, 5-2-0 Hockey East): That's not a typo: shootout wins don't count in the 'overall' record, but they count in Hockey East - and BC already has a pair of shootout victories.
5. Providence (4-5-5, 5-2-1 Hockey East): Coming off a split against BU, PC faces red hot NU on Friday.
6. Connecticut (5-5-3, 1-3-3 Hockey East): UConn's season would look a lot different if they hadn't lost all three of their shootouts, but as it stands they appear to be a cut behind teams 2-through-5.
7. Vermont (5-6-0, 1-4-0 Hockey East): Vermont and Maine have finished bottom two three years in a row, and that trend looks like it will continue this year.
8. Maine (3-9-2, 2-5-1 Hockey East): Vermont and Maine have finished bottom two three years in a row, and that trend looks like it will continue this year.