Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Michigan Hockey Roundup

I'm going ostrich about the Rose Bowl. We all know what went wrong, I'm not going to tell you anything you don't already know or think.

1 quick comment though: Anyone that uses the outcome of that game to say, "Obviously the voters got it right" is an idiot. Does Michigan have a case as the #1 team in the country anymore? No. Do they have a case as #2? No. But based on the evidence at hand at the time the vote was taken, Michigan would've been the correct team to put into the National Championship Game, and the outcome of the Rose Bowl does nothing to change that. It just means that with a similar effort, Ohio State would've probably rolled them even worse than USC did. And that Michigan was overrated--and very capable of being exploited. But nobody knew that.

Frankly, it's too bad USC crapped the bed against UCLA because that would've been a good title game. I still think OSU kills Florida. But what do I know...I'm like 172nd on The Wolverine site alone in the bowl pick 'em. Awesome pick of Oklahoma over Boise as my 32 pointer.

On to hockey, where there's a surprising amount of stuff to talk about.

We lost the GLI as usual, but what was alarming to me was the way we lost the GLI. The team simply looked disinterested in being there. MSU came out flying, Michigan came out lethargic. They looked slow, they looked tired, and they looked like they just wanted to get out of there. Case in point was a great scoring chance Bryan Lerg had in the first period. The puck was flipped into the zone up over the heads of the Michigan defense and it was bouncing around right around the hash marks. Both Michigan defensemen (I want to say Mitera was one, I forget the other) skated back nonchalantly, as if they had all the time in the world. Lerg skated his ass off, beat both of them to the puck, and ended up getting a great chance.

If you can't get up for a game against your arch-rival in the championship game of a tournament that you haven't won in 10 years, there's a problem. And the really scary thing is that this isn't the first time in the past couple of seasons that a Michigan team has come out really flat against MSU. We have got to fix our penalty kill. It currently stands at 78.1%, which is the worst a Michigan team has done since 89-90--and we missed the tournament.

TJ Hensick really deserves a lot of credit. If anyone showed up for that game, it was him. I never thought we'd see him be a force at both ends of the ice, but he continues to show how he has managed to become a complete player in his senior season, and he deserves all the credit in the world for it. In fact, if I were coaching the team--which I'm obviously not--I would give him a "C" on his jersey as a reward for his hard work. They don't have to strip it from Hunwick or anything like that, but Hensick has shown me a lot this year and it would be nice to see him recognized in a very visible way.

The US rebounded very nicely from a rough start in World Juniors, finally getting eliminated by Canada today in a thrilling game that ended in a shootout loss. The Americans can still come home with a bronze. Jack has rebounded as well, scoring the game winning goal in overtime to put the US into the medal round. He also added a Kessel in the quarterfinals, and had two identical goals in the shootout today.

Quick tangent before I get back to Michigan hockey: I think I spoke about this before, after the World Cup final, but it bares repeating. Shootouts in tournament games are stupid. They don't represent the game as a whole, and the game is decided by an action that rarely even takes place during the course of an actual game. It would be like deciding overtime football games by using the XFL's old "coin toss" method of having the players run for the ball in the center of the field.

The shootout today in no way proved that Canada was a better team than the United States--hell, they didn't even keep going through the roster, the same guys kept shooting over and over. All the shootout showed was that Jonathan Toews is nasty and Jeff Frazee can't stop breakaways. If you are going to play a ten minute overtime as it is, why not just let it keep going until someone wins? I love the shootout in regular season games. I'd never think of turning one off. But as a way to decide an elimination game in a tournament (or any playoff game for that matter) it's absolutely ridiculous and a crappy way to end things.

The Hockey Hotboard at the Yost Post was updated today and there were a couple of interesting names on there. Bryan Rust is listed as a potential 2010 recruit. I can only assume that he's the brother of Michigan signee Matt Rust. It's not a common last name and both players are from Bloomfield Hills. It'd be an awful coincidence if they're not...ya know...connected! Two points if you get that reference.

And if you want evidence of how out of control recruiting has gotten, look no further than the inclusion of Rocco Grimaldi on the list. With a name like that, you'd figure he's gotta be like 6'2", 200 lbs and a defenseman right? Nope, he's 5'3". Granted he was born in 1993 so he's got plenty of time to bulk up. God we're recruiting 93s.

There's also a player from Croatia on the list (though he plays for Honeybaked). Don't see that everyday.

Finally, for some more information about potential 2009 recruit Kenny Ryan, we turn to an unlikely source, Go Blue Wolverine. Bret Osburn had a great post about Chris Brown and Kenny Ryan. He has scouting reports based on his first impression of each of them, but the really interesting part of the post was about his interaction with Kenny Ryan's dad, KC.

When asked about where Kenny was looking, he was very honest and open with me.
Michigan, Notre Dame and Boston College are all in the mix -- it had been
presumed that it was down to Michigan/Notre Dame, so Boston College was somewhat of a surprise. Kenny still has a while to decide -- and it's a good thing
because I don't see this one ending anytime soon. Each school has a different
set of factors pulling him in. Michigan is offering a great education, the
location is ideal, and he's got two brothers (Ross and one more) that are both
students at U-M right now. Notre Dame has Jeff Jackson. Jackson has done a
tremendous job turning around the ND program, and K.C. noted that Jackson
started the U.S. NTDP, obviously a significant accomplishment. He did mention
the facilities at ND might be a concern, but ND is also a childhood favorite for
Kenny because of K.C.'s football days. Boston College entered the picture late.
I don't think they'll be a serious threat, but the family did visit the school
over the summer. Interest in BC came from former Red Wing Doug Brown. Brown was a coach for Kenny in a spring league a few seasons ago. He's been in contact
with the family ever since then. Brown played for BC and his brother Greg is an
assistant coach there right now. Doug clued the BC staff in on Ryan and they've
been recruiting him ever since.
Interesting stuff, particularly about the Doug Brown connection. There's not all that much activity on that board, but it's nice to see some recruiting info coming out of there as well as the Yost Post. Can't have enough!


Orange Lacrosse said...


Packer487 said...

As Jim Rome would say, give yourself a tongue.

Anonymous said...

Rocco Grimaldi is not ready for the NTDP this year. Despite his obvious superiority at his '93 birthyear, among the older players he consistantly showed a penchant for opportunism and cowardice by jumping into fights this season. Whenever his older 91 team mates got into a spat you could find Rocco prowling the scrums looking to get a few punches in or holding an opposing player while his team mates took free shots. Succumbing to pressure (peer or otherwise) to demonstrate he could play at this level, the youngster took the wrong route. His skill with the puck was more than enough to prove the point, but the immaturity he displayed only proved he needs a little more time before he can play with the best- those who have the skill, ethic, and relative maturity to represent the NTDP. No doubt Rocco will be there soon, but there is simply no reason to make a travesty of the NTDP rosters by taking him early. If it hasn't already happened, he could become part of a lawsuit as a result of his poor decision making and the negligence of tournament hosts that resulted in a season and perhaps career ending attack on another player earlier this season. Is that kind of baggage something the NTDP wants to saddle the rest of the 92s who legitimately deserve a spot this year? Surely there are enough good players at the proper birth year to field the best U17 team. Let him grow up another year, learn a lesson, and then see if he's ready. If you want to create the best team for next season, he shouldn't be on it. No doubt the best 92 anywhere - but will benefit most from the maturity, pounds and inches another year at Midget will guarantee him.