Sunday, March 25, 2007

Another Season Ends

Should any of us really be all that surprised about North Dakota 8, Michigan 5?

I hate the expression as much as I hate the radio personality who uses it as his show's title, but the Michigan hockey team "It is what it is" and in the end, the flaws that have plagued them for most of the season bit them.

We're a stupid hockey team. It starts at the top with our senior captain who could never stop taking dumbshit penalties at the worst possible time. And it goes on down from there. Dumb penalties + a fairly ineffective penalty kill aren't a good combo. Especially against a team with a power play like NoDak's. It shouldn't have taken 5 power play goals to get the point across (not that that was an exceptionally well-officiated game or anything).

As for our goaltending, wow. I think I more than anyone have been skeptical of Sauer's improved play. I never quite bought into the fact that after a year and a half of overall poor play he was suddenly a quality goaltender. Hell, my signature on the Yost Post is still a picture of Bryan Hogan with the plea "Please be for real." I was hoping he'd keep it up long enough for us to make a tournament run, but in the end a couple pucks got by and all the confidence he built up over the last couple of months seem to go away as quick as our tournament hopes.

The preceding paragraph shouldn't be taken as completely blaming last night on Sauer, however. As I mentioned earlier, we took a ton of stupid-ass penalties, and as a whole the defense sucked.

North Dakota's goalie was probably more shaky than Sauer in the early going (He gave up 5 goals on 10 shots) but to his credit, he made three big saves late in the second period that turned the game in North Dakota's favor for good.

I wish like hell for guys like Rohlfs, Hensick, and JMFJ that this season had ended better. It was a joy to watch those three especially this season and I wish them all the luck in the world in the NHL. I think Jack is the first guy that has left since I've been following the team who I didn't bat an eyelash when I saw he departed. It would've been great to see him back at Michigan next year, but this was a move he needed to make. He was beyond ready and I'd like to thank him for two great seasons. Make us proud in the NHL, Jack. And I hope the Staples Center crowd likes your family as much as we do.

My last comment for now has to deal with tape delay. Most notably how I miserably failed once again in my quest to watch a game on tape delay without finding out the outcome ahead of time. And an explanation about why I don't have all that much to say about the game.

I live in Madison, WI now, so the game was shown on tape delay at about 11:00 EDT. Around 8:45, my dad called me. I'm not sure why I answered the phone, but I figured "He can't. He knows that I'm not seeing this game live." I answer the phone, and he says "Are you watching this?" "NO!" "Well this is unbelievable." I can already tell from the tone of his voice that things aren't great. "Why are we getting killed?" "No, it's close....all I will tell you is that there have already been twelve goals scored." Already more than I wanted to know, since for the first half of the game, I didn't get remotely excited/pissed when a goal went in. I knew it was either 7-5 or 6-6, and based on his voice, I figured we were down 7-5. I also didn't get a lot of joy out of the 3-1 lead Michigan had when CSN broke into the game. I knew it was going away quickly.

It gets to the second intermission and my phone rings again. It's a friend who was out at the game. I pick up the phone and say "On my broadcast it's only the second intermission so don't tell me anything." We chat for a couple of minutes about the game to that point and then he says "I gotta go, I'm getting on the plane."

Well then. I texted him back saying "Getting on the plane huh? I guess we lost."

Then I turned the game off.

A few last comments for tonight:
-All the Eastern teams with the exception of Boston College suck. All of them.

-No more complaining from anyone about the autobids for the CHA and Atlantic Hockey. The only reason Minnesota wasn't embarassed for the second straight year was that Air Force started watching the clock and stopped doing what got them the 3-1 lead in the first place (and what allowed them to dominate the first period). Alabama Huntsville had Notre Dame on the ropes--though it was obvious they were holding on for dear life. Either way, those were two impressive performances by the "two worst teams in the tournament".

-It makes me happy that Minnesota lost again.

-It doesn't shock me that none of the #1 seeds made it to the Frozen Four. Clarkson was obviously a fraud, Minnesota had a tough game in having to face North Dakota, UNH probably wasn't favored to get past BC (and they didn't make it that far), and Notre Dame was a very beatable #1. But it does shock me that no #1s and only one #2 made it to St. Louis.

-I have to say this again, due to all the threads that I saw when I pulled the Yost Post: We didn't get screwed. It sucks that MSU got the much easier draw even though we finished ahead of them in both the regular season and conference tournament, but this is the system that we have. But we didn't get screwed. It's not the committee's job to reward the #8 seed over the #9 seed. We didn't take care of business to ensure ourselves one of those cake regionals out East or a spot in Grand Rapids. And even if we did go to Grand Rapids, there's no guarantee that we would've beaten a team that we were 0-3 against this season.

The team that really got screwed was Minnesota. They had a tougher first round game than they should have gotten because of geography. Then, instead of having Michigan and Michigan State in their regional as the #2 and #3 seeds, they got one of the hottest teams in the country swapped in over Michigan State (because conference matchups can't happen in Round One). And they lost.

Think Minnesota wouldn't have won a regional with Michigan, Michigan State, and Alabama Huntsville? They got screwed (not that I'm upset about it). We didn't. We got a bad draw. It happens. We weren't in a position to deserve a reward of any kind.

-One thing I will say, however, is that the sides of the bracket are horribly unbalanced. The regionals with North Dakota and Boston College had probably 5 of the top 6 teams in the tournament. An idea I've been kicking around has been that the Pairwise should be used to determine the field for the tournament, but that the committee should have the leeway to seed the teams as they wish.

Think about it. The controversy with the basketball tournament is always with who got in versus who didn't. There was a little talk about the Big East getting poor seeds this year, but by and large that's not a big sticking point.

This plan would at least let the committee reward a team like North Dakota for improving throughout the year and showing by the end of the season that they were one of the top teams in the country.

It would also let them alter things so that Minnesota isn't "rewarded" with a weaker three seed by putting North Dakota in their regional, when it actually probably would have been better for them to have the Michigan-Michigan State game split up by putting a "tougher" Boston University team into their region.

Sure there would be controversy, but I feel that I would rather trust humans to seed the teams versus going exclusively off the numbers--which don't take into account if a team is going in the tank or playing out of their minds coming down the stretch.

Or maybe the system itself just needs to be tweeked...


Kyle Whitney said...

speaking of boarding the plane to Ann Arbor, that's what JMFJ didn't do. Wildcat nation is glad we don't have to deal with him anymore. In all honesty, though, good luck to Jack in LA. He's a great player and he deserves it (did I mention that he broke Zaniboni's blocker in their final regular season game?).

Anonymous said...

Good thoughts Tim. I wish Hensick and JMFJ could have gone out with a championship, but thems the breaks.

Going to miss Jack, most talented player I've ever seen for UM. Not the best at UM ever (that would be Morrison), but Jack will end up with the best pro career. Jack Skille is already dreading games against the Kings next year...

Jeremy said...

Anybody know where in AA to watch the Kings game tomorrow night? Think Buffalo Wild Wings will have it?

Eric J. Burton said...

Michigan was by far one of the best teams we say this season along with Maine, its too bad the Sioux and Michigan don't play more. Its actually a shame.

Anonymous said...

...and, with Johnson already determined to stay out west with the Kings before even leaving Ann Arbor...can you not wonder...where was his head at during a college game?