Monday, January 30, 2006

Two Points The Hard Way

Michigan and Michigan State meet for 2 more hockey games, Michigan and Michigan State tie two more hockey games that Michigan should have won. Go figure. The recaps:

Friday Night: Michigan 1, Michigan State 1:

On the plus side, Michigan has started to make it so that when they venture into Munn Ice Arena, they’re coming away with at least one point more often than not. On the minus side, they missed several opportunities to come away with more than one point Friday night.

In an effort to fill the arena and make it, ya know, kinda-sorta loud, the Spartans brought a fair portion of their marching band to the game, and occasionally even turned off the piped-in music to let them play. Michigan brought a bus of students to the game, which came pretty close to out-numbering the “Slapshots” that were in the MSU student section. Priceless chant of the night: The Slapshots chanting “We can’t hear you” at the Michigan students. Hey. Sparty. There’s more of them than you, and it’s a road game. If I may edit the Spartan fight song a little: “See their student section is WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK”.

MSU got on the board first on a goal that—this will be a trend for the weekend—Bill Sauer would like to have back. His tendency to give up soft goals is starting to alarm me. Luckily, Billy was lights out for the rest of the game. He was outstanding in net. Sadly it didn’t carry over until Saturday. Michigan looked like hell in the first period, but Kolarik put one in right before intermission. The Wolverines carried the play the entire second period, and for fair portions of the third and overtime, but couldn’t solve Lerg. Hensick missed an empty net in OT and Sauer stopped an MSU breakaway so it ended in a 1-1 tie.

Other random thoughts:
--Jason Dest was probably Michigan’s best player in that game. For most of his career, he’s been the kind of defenseman that you don’t really notice, and apart from some of this year he’s been pretty solid in that role. Friday night, he was noticeably doing good things out there. Just a great game out of him.

--Tim Cook had an outstanding first period, save for the stupid penalty he took. He wasn’t as good for the rest of the game, but it was still better than 90% of the Tim Cook appearances. He looks like he’s playing with a lot more confidence out there, and that’s a good thing.

--The Spartan faithful got another reason to hate Jack Johnson as he got a high-sticking penalty. Jack was over by the MSU bench and a Spartan or two reached over and grabbed his stick. Jack started to skate toward his bench, but his stick was behind held. So he yanked on it a few times to try and free it. Finally the MSU players let go as Jack was tugging, and he ended up whacking another Spartan on the bench, who proceeded to dive in a way that would make Paul Kariya proud. Jack got 2, and an MSU player got 2 for holding. I can live with that. I just have to laugh at the people that wanted a DQ for it.

--Hunwick got beat around the outside another couple of times. I’m not sure what his deal is, but it appears that he’s a step late going into a full skate backwards and the opposing player is getting the corner on him.

--The power play was downright dismal. Too much passing around the perimeter, too many low-percentage shots (Shooting it into the defenseman’s shin guards is as low-percentage as you can get), too much looking for the perfect pass, not enough working it down low, not enough shooting. What happened to last year when they’d set Ebbett up behind the net and let him go to work? I know we don’t have a shot on the wing like Gajic or Tambellini had, but there’s a few guys that aren’t slouches. Every once in awhile they try to work the backdoor play, and it’s there, they just haven’t converted it.

--The disallowed goal: Can’t believe that didn’t count. It happened right in front of us, and I saw the net move. I guess the overhead cam didn’t show it conclusively going in though—and I’m not really sure how it couldn’t have. Count that goal and MSU probably wins the game.

--Both teams were affected by another McInchak-called game. I’m not sure when this guy turned into the CCHA’s go-to ref, but I’ve seen quite enough of it. Where’s Shegos and Pio doing Michigan/MSU games? Instead with get McInchak and Brian Aaron this weekend? Doesn’t get a whole lot worse than those two. Neither team really benefited from the official, but I’d still like to see a more competent guy doing a game that big.

Saturday Night: Michigan 5, Michigan State 5:
Sparty had 24 hours to whine about the disallowed goal from the night before, and now they can stop. MSU’s first 3 goals were all of the questionable variety. The first was set up when Jack Johnson was slew-footed behind the net…not sure how they miss that call; it’s as dirty of a play as there is in hockey and people would be screaming bloody murder if Johnson had been on the other end of the hit. The second goal was blatantly kicked in and not reviewed. The third goal I didn’t see a replay of, but Mickey Redmond was doing color on the game and he mentioned that Michigan’s defenseman was interfered with Cold-War-Tying-Goal style.

--As good as Sauer was Friday, he was that bad Saturday. He simply has to stop 2 if not 3 of the MSU goals in that game. The third was a wrist shot from the top of the circle. Interference or not, how does that puck go in?

--It’s great to have Kaleniecki back in the lineup. They’ve missed him.

--I like Timmy Miller more every time I see him play. He’s a really well-rounded player and you can put him out there in any situation and feel comfortable about it.

--Cogliano is a great player, but I can’t handle his diving crap. An MSU player gets his stick up around Cogs’ chest and he snaps his head back like he was shot. He got an unsportsmanlike conduct call on the play. Not sure if it was for snapping his head back, or flopping when Kennedy shoved him. Either way, I don’t respect players that pull that kind of crap. It’s why I hate Paul Kariya so much.

--I really like the whole playing Rohlfs at forward and rotating 5 defensemen thing. Everyone knows my thoughts on Hunwick and Johnson together, but by rotating 5 defensemen, they still play together a little bit, but not a ton. I really liked Jack out there with Mitera and Dest (Not at the same time obviously). Both those pairing looked really good…and Rohlfs chipped in with a goal back at forward.

It’s hard to say that Michigan should have won Friday night—since MSU did have a goal waived off for no reason—though they did carry the play for most of the last 45 minutes of the hockey game. They just couldn’t solve Jeff Lerg. Saturday night they were the better team, scored enough goals to get a W, but they let the victory slip away.

Michigan got a break Friday night with the goal going through the net, and MSU got a break Saturday on the second goal for sure, but likely the first and/or the third as well. Both teams probably came out of this weekend with the proper number of points, but it should have been a victory for each team instead of two ties. If you’re a Michigan fan though, you have to wonder how they didn’t manage to pull at least 3 points out of this weekend, because they certainly had their chances.


Chris said...

Using your leg to trip someone else. It's a pretty dangerous play that can cause serious injury.

Packer487 said...

Here's the official definiton from the NHL rule book:
"Slew-Footing" is the act of a player using his leg or foot to knock or kick an opponent's feet from under him, or pushes an opponent's upper body backward with an arm or elbow, and at the same time with a forward motion of his leg, knocks or kicks the opponent's feet from under him.

It's an automatic match penalty (5 and a game, plus automatic review by the league) in the NHL....

Johnson was behind the net, facing the right goal post. An MSU skater was skating behind the next from left post to right post, and his foot knocked Jack's skate out from under him.

I don't know if it was intentional...haven't seen the tape yet, but it was a dangerous play, and I'm not really sure how that doesn't get called tripping at the very least. I have no doubt it would've been if Jack was on the other end of it....