Belated thoughts from a Saturday night victory:
Don’t look now, but Jack Johnson only has 2 PIMs total in his last 4 games and that penalty didn’t lead to us being short-handed. He’s done a nice job of toning it down since his last ejection.
Much better effort Saturday night than Friday. Michigan came out in the first period and actually looked like they wanted to be playing hockey, rather than chasing tail or yelling out the window making fun of Asian girls that can’t parallel park (yeah Mike Woodford!).
Once again, The Line set the tone with Kal and Ebbett accounting for 3 of Michigan’s goals in the first period. Kal’s second goal was about as big of a blooper as you’ll ever seen. He was basically in all alone, and when he went to shoot, he biffed on the ice and somehow was able to shoot the puck on his way down. It got past Jakaitis in classic Junior-Year-Al-Montoya-“He’d-like-to-have-that-one-back” fashion and Kal had one of the ugliest goals you’ll ever see. Kal has points in 8 of 9 games since he’s come back from his injury and Ebbett has points in 6 of 7. That line is carrying this team right now. A friend in my ticket group put it best, “Good thing him and Ebbett are leaving this year.” Yeah.
Tyler Swystun got on the scoresheet for the second straight game with a beautiful give-and-go with Danny Fardig. Swystun really played well this weekend. It wasn’t just that he tallied points in both games. He made a couple of really nice backchecks Saturday, and showed the first flashes we’ve seen of that high-end offensive skill that he supposedly has. 1-1—2 for the weekend, but he could’ve easily had another goal at the bare minimum.
If any psychology student is reading this and feels like doing a case study into the effect that confidence can have on an athlete, you need to look no further than Tim Cook. Honest to God, he looks like a completely different player from the start of the season. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a time he’s screwed up since the tie game at Munn, and he even played pretty well in that one. The highlight for him Saturday night was a crushing hit on a guy in the first period. Yes I just used the phrase crushing hit in reference to something Tim Cook did.
Ruden was solid in net. I don’t think I’d characterize either goal as his fault, which you couldn’t say on Saturday night. As long as he doesn’t really screw up, we’re not going to see Billy Sauer the rest of the way.
Apart from that 45 second span in the first period, the team defense was overall pretty darn good. I did notice that when Jack rushed the puck, a forward made sure to get back and play defense on a couple of occasions (both times that I actually looked for it). The power play is still absolutely abysmal. What happened to Rohlfs in front of the net? He was out on the point this weekend.
Kevin Porter’s Kris Draper syndrome continued Saturday night. He’d miss the side of a barn if he was shooting from the slot right now. He’s in a funk but I have every confidence he’ll get out of it. I’m not worried about Porter at all. Hensick on the other hand, looks like he’s only willing to skate hard for 2 or 3 shifts in any given game. You can’t have a preseason Hobey Baker candidate going roughly two months without having goals in back-to-back games.
Other notes: The power play was 0-8 on the weekend with 8 shots on goal total. Awful. And we got smoked on faceoffs both games. 33 out of 71 on Friday and 31 out of 70 Saturday. AJ Jenks can’t get here soon enough.
I don’t think it was a coincidence that we had Piotrowski finally and subsequently had probably the two best officiated hockey games of the season. I’ve never been a Pio fan, but after seeing what else the CCHA has to offer in great detail this season, I’ve come around. More of him, please.
It was a little disappointing that Michigan came out and looked like they were going to blow LSSU out of the building, and then a 45 second lapse in team defense turned a 4-0 lead into a 4-2 hockey game. The 2nd and 3rd periods were extremely dull and I zoned out for a pretty fair portion of them. It wouldn’t make me cry if we don’t see LSSU again this year.
There are signs that this team is turning it around—which sounds funny to say after they lost that game Friday night, but I believe it’s true. LSSU isn’t going to remind anyone of the late 80s Oilers or anything, but they did a pretty nice job defensively this weekend. It looks like Jack has toned it down some and the forwards are doing a better job of getting back on the defense rushes. Get the power play going—which it will, there’s too much talent for it not to—and keep making a commitment to playing defense and there’s still hope that this can turn into a successful season.