Last Place Big Ten Standing No Concern For Penn State Hockey
No. 15 Penn State men’s hockey is currently tied for last place in the Big Ten standings. It’s a gloomy outlook at face value, but the Nittany Lions’ situation doesn’t seem quite so bad when you take a closer look at the standings.
No. 3 Ohio State has a comfortable eight point lead on the conference and 12 points on Penn State. The five spots in between the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions, however, are a bit more jam-packed.
Here’s a look at the current conference standings:
- Ohio State (8-3-3-2, 29 points in 14 games played)
- Minnesota (6-5-3-0, 21 points in 14 games played)
- Notre Dame (6-6-1-1, 20 points in 13 games played)
- Michigan State (5-7-2-2, 19 points in 14 games played)
- Michigan (4-5-4-2, 18 points in 13 games played)
- Wisconsin (4-4-4-1, 17 points in 12 games played)
- Penn State (5-8-1-1, 17 points in 14 games played)
For reference, Big Ten teams earn three points for winning games in regulation or 5-on-5 overtime, while the losers of those contests get nothing. Games that aren’t settled after regulation and 5-on-5 overtime are considered ties, so each team is guaranteed a point in the conference standings. Ties are settled by five minutes of 3-on-3 overtime and, if necessary, a shootout.
Six of the Big Ten’s seven teams are within four points (one regulation victory and a tie) of each other. Besides Ohio State, the conference is tight, which is a product of having seven high-quality teams and the parity that brings up.
“We’re aware of [the standings],” Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “It’s a factor of what the Big Ten is right now, but we definitely don’t like [being in last place] at all.”
The Nittany Lions do have a raised sense of urgency, but not because of the way the conference standings look. They’ve lost three consecutive games and four of its last five. As a result, Penn State currently sits at No. 18 in the Pairwise rankings, which are a pretty accurate predictor of college hockey’s 16-team NCAA tournament field.
Getting off the schneid is the first priority in Hockey Valley, and the standings and rankings will take care of themselves if Penn State can string some victories together in the next few weeks.
“There are only 10 or 11 games left [in conference play]. We know we need to win a majority of them,” Ludvig Larsson, who snapped a 12-game goal drought against Ohio State last weekend, said. “It’s not desperation, but we know that this is it.”
Senior captain Chase Berger echoed Larsson’s sentiment and expressed his lack of concern about the Big Ten standings. He’s not concerned with his team’s current position because of how narrow the gap between second place and the bottom is.
If Penn State’s history is any indicator, this team is clearly capable of going on a late-season run to qualify for the NCAA tournament. The Nittany Lions put together a Big Ten tournament run for the ages in 2016-17 before winning four straight games against Minnesota to punch their ticket into last year’s tournament.
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