As nice as a win over Michigan State at the Joe would've been, I think if Michigan fans were being honest, most of them would've accepted a tie. We struggle with State, we struggle at the Joe, those teams have a history of ties. I guarantee that all Michigan fans would've gladly taken a tie if you asked them after the Wolverines fell behind 3-0 to the Spartans. Come back from that and the weekend is a success right? Maybe. Except for one small fact:
We lost to freaking Bowling Green!
When we were making our second half predictions on The Yost Post, and I accounted for "one loss in a game that we definitely shouldn't lose, just because..." I wasn't counting on it being to that joke of a team. I mean, c'mon. They had won two games since November!
Now, I will give it up to the Falcons. They've vastly improved since the last time we saw them. It was after that game that I called them the second worst CCHA team I had seen in the last 7 years--and I was pretty confident it wasn't an exaggeration. But they're playing better, they work their asses off, and they haven't quit on their season despite the lousy record that they've got.
I'm not going to go with the "typical Michigan arrogance" and say that Michigan just didn't show up. They played an ok game. But they did get outworked and outplayed by an inferior team. I think we got punched in the mouth by a team that wanted it more, and was just better that night. Was part of it looking ahead to State or taking the Falcons lightly? Probably. But I don't feel pinning the blame solely on that gives BGSU the credit that they deserve.
Sauer was outstanding again against BGSU. Amazingly, we needed him to be at his best in that game. And it still wasn't enough. Hensick also deserves a call. After the BGSU go-ahead goal, he took it down into the Falcon end and rang one off the bar, and then got on his horse and high-tailed it into the corner to keep them from clearing the puck. Great effort play all around.
Pretty obvious that the Falcons were going to score on the PP when Johnson and another Michigan player got crossed up at the bench for the Too Many Men call. It always seems that stupid penalties end up being the ones that bite you.
One last minor bone to pick...there should've been at least 3.7 seconds on the clock before the last faceoff. The puck was already behind the Michigan net (keep in mind it's automatic icing and all) when the clock hit 1.0. Not that it would've mattered, but you can't do anything in 1 second. 3.7 you've at least got a chance.
Halfway through the second period Saturday, this weekend looked like it was going to be a complete disaster. Down 3-0 to MSU, I was pissed off enough that I flipped the TV off. I wouldn't have been able to catch the third period anyway because of my own hockey game, but I had seen enough.
Luckily the Michigan team dug deep and didn't mail it in like they did in the GLI. I thought Summers looked outstanding at forward even before he started lighting the lamp behind Lerg. He had at least 3 or 4 great scoring opportunities in the game when I was watching--including one that he rung off the post.
I have to believe that the slightly-less-than-60-shots was a function of a generous statistician, but I don't doubt that we dominated that game. It bugs the hell out of me that B. Lerg scores every damn time we play MSU--or it at least seems that way. That decommit was a killer. He'd be a great fit on this team. I blame Dwight.
DC Nole came strong with his "State of the Team Address" that includes far more stats than I would have the time (or patience) to look up. In short (and the post is really worth a read), when our top line and top defense pairing are producing points, we win. When they're not, we lose. That by itself isn't a shocker, but some of the stats he provides are very interesting.
The one thing I disagree with is this passage: "And as it turns out, [the top line/pairing not producing points] has been the missing link in our bad games these last 6 weeks. Not defense. Not turnovers. Not goaltending. Not coaching. Who knew?!?"
He proved his point about the goaltending and defense, but I disagree that turnovers haven't played a big part in the goals we've allowed. Kampfer and Cogliano's turnovers on the point killed us against BGSU and MSU. Also, no one on our team came up with the puck on Sauer's hard around on the play where he "got run into" by Abdelkader. So that'd probably be one as well.
All in all though, that was a great post, and his summary does give us cause to still be excited about where this team could end up at the end of the season.
Our chances are even better if we end up with a bracket like this. I will gladly take anything come tournament time that doesn't involve us being in a Regional with Minnesota, and that doesn't require us to play UNH in New Hampshire. If we get Clarkson in a first round game, all the better. I'd love another crack at Notre Dame....