Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Media Roundup: College Hockey Showcase

No matter the records, it's a big weekend anytime you can get two against Wisconsin and Minnesota back-to-back. Here's what the MSM and the blogosphere are saying about it:

The best article of the bunch is about how the WCHA and CCHA are talking about how to provide more games between Big Ten teams. It's even possible that they'll eventually award a trophy to the "Big Ten" champion. I think it'd be a great idea to have some semblance of a Big Ten round robin, even if it's not a series against each team as the article suggests. Michigan and MSU already do play the other four Big Ten teams and Wiscy and Minnesota always play everyone but OSU (though they both met the Buckeyes this year). Sounds good right? Well, it's not this first time that this idea has been floated.

If I remember to do it, I'll compile the final stats at the end of the season since everyone plays everyone else at some point this year.

The Michigan Side:
MGoBlog doesn't really talk about the game as much he provides a typically well-written post about why this game meant more than the typical regular season game. At least to us fans. It sounds so very MSU-little-brother, but we needed that one. Even with the Gophers sub-par start, this win validates our excellent early season record.

WCH was able to get to Ann Arbor for the Showcase and Chris has a recap of each game. His sentiments about Turris ("wasn't that noticeable") were echoed by a friend I hit up for info about the game Friday night. "Noticed him maybe twice" was what my friend said. The Wolverines did a great job this weekend against the top players on the opposing team. Turris, Okposo, Barriball, and for the most part Wheeler didn't do very much.

I agree with Chris that the much-improved coverage in our defensive zone is a big reason for our success, but I think Sauer has improved by leaps and bounds over last year. The soft goals have been virtually non-existent thusfar. He's had maybe 5 (and only 2 or 3 that were truly bad). That was a weekend last year. It is helping to not have to face 4 odd-man rushes a night as well.

Kevin Porter and Billy Sauer were again honored as conference players of the week. I'm not sure when the last time was that a goalie won the award three times in a row (especially midseason when everyone is playing), but it can't have happened recently.

Edit: I neglected to include the Michigan Daily articles in my media roundup (How? Don't ask), so I've added them.

As was the case several weeks ago, the Wolverines still want to cut down on penalties, particularly amongst our fourth-liners. When you don't get a ton of ice-time and you're not counted on to score goals, the last thing you want to do is put the team on a penalty kill. Michigan's averaging 3 penalty minutes more per game than they did a year ago.

The good news is that we're pretty adept at scoring when a man down.

Billy Sauer is like me. He hates Minnesota.

More about our dynamic duo up front.

Antoine Pitts has been writing up a storm lately. The rest of the articles in the Michigan section come from him and the Ann Arbor News:

Anthony Cirualo has been effective in the lineup with injuries to Fardig and Caporusso.

Billy Sauer wasn't at the summer evaluation camp for the USA World Junior Team, but he has to get some consideration after the start he's had. Summers, Pacioretty, Quick, Rust, Palushaj, and Hagelin (Sweden) could also be named to the teams. Summers and Pacioretty probably have the best shot.

Red Berenson is as laughably pessimistic to the media about his team as Brett Favre. We're now "perhaps a top 10 team" and the Packers might be "pretty good" at this point.

Kolarik said that despite beating Michigan earlier in the season, the Gophers might have been a little intimidated Saturday.

Recap of the Wisconsin game. Maybe I missed it, and maybe the holiday had something to do with it, but I'm surprised there wasn't a little more about the Sauer/Connelly angle in the lead-up to the game.

The top line has scored at least one in every game of this twelve game winning streak. That's kind of dirty.

Kevin Quick doesn't think he'd repeat the mistake he made in the earlier Minnesota game, where he took one quick stride to try and get to the puck and it was just enough for Wheeler to beat him around the corner.

Yost Built favorite Carl Hagelin is adjusting to this country, and the size of our hockey rinks.

Stat Hunting:
All stats are culled from the MGoBlue stat page as well as the full PDF that accompanies it.

-Kevin Porter has 16 goals on 47 shots. To give that some context, if he had the same shooting percentage last year, he would have tallied 43 goals. Kolarik would have had 55(!) using that same shooting percentage. But Eric Ehn would still be in the Hobey Hat Trick ahead of them.

-Steve Kampfer has more than doubled last year's point total.

-Want proof that Aaron Palushaj is lethal on the PP? He's third on the team in points, but is the only player on the team with a minus rating (-1).

-Porter has 8 PPGs. The rest of the team combined has ten.

-Mark Mitera is a team-high +12 through 14 games.

-Billy Sauer now has a GAA just a tick below 2.00 with a .918 save percentage. By comparison, opposition goalies are stopping just 85.3% of the shots Michigan puts on net.

-Our 4.3 goals per game is actually ahead of last year's pace. And our goal differential is +2.3 (!!) compared with +1.1 last year.

-We're back below 50% on faceoffs (the loss of Caporusso doesn't help), but Porter and Fardig are the only players below .500 out of the eight who have taken more than 30 draws.

-Our top power play unit (8, 24, 39, 11, 7) have combined for 38 points on the power play so far this year.

-Porter has been held without a point just twice this season. Three times for Kolarik.

The Wisconsin View:
The official article.

Wisconsin put the "special" in special teams on Friday night. Kind of like our football team does on a weekly basis. Berenson said that he "can't remember the last time we lost a third period like that". True, true. Michigan has been money in the third this year.

Michigan fans weren't the only ones who didn't notice Kyle Turris. He's been invisible--along with the rest of his line--during their 5 game winless streak. Coach Eaves drew a comparison to Joe Pavelski and the way he cooled off after a hot start his freshman year.

More on the Badger special teams and a couple of "thank you Captain Obvious" quotes from captain Ben Street.

Wisconsin started their freshman goalie against the Spartans largely's quiet in Munn. No, really, that's why.

The Capital Times was blogging about the game.

The Minnesota View:
Gopher fans are split on if Frazee is the problem or not. I haven't watched them enough--and I haven't seen Kangas--to comment, but in the game against Michigan I don't think he was the problem. He didn't play well (and that third goal was horrible--great play by Porter though)
but they didn't give him a lot of help. And I have a hard time blaming the goalie under any circumstance when you only score once.

In addition to Connelly not playing, Sparty didn't see Frazee (good thing or bad thing??) or Wheeler this weekend. MSU tied both games this weekend, giving the CCHA a 2-0-2 weekend.

The STrib points out that the Gophers aren't exactly the model of perfection on special teams either. I'm not sure if these are just WCHA stats, but the Gophers have just eight PPGs and have given up five shorties. (This seems like an appropriate time to mention that if I were running things, you would subtract short-handed goals when figuring out PP% and add them in when calculating PK%)

Jeff Frazee said his stick got caught in the boards when he gave the puck away on our third goal.

Lucia credited the Wolverines with being hungry to win that game after the past history between these teams. The Pioneer Press has Porter as their early-season favorite for the Hobey. After what happened with Hensick getting hosed last year I wouldn't bet on it, even though he's clearly the best player in the country at this point. He leads the country in goals, points, and PPGs, is the best captain we've had since Ortmeyer, and is a great defensive forward to boot.


Anonymous said...

thanks for these summaries, sir. i am certainly glad to see that i may have been right about this teams chances being linked to mitera being our best defender- the freshmen have helped, but miteras +12 thru 14 is outstanding and exactly what we needed.

and after last year, i say screw the hobey altogether.

if we sweep the next 2 series (which we probably should) we may be a lock for the tourney as a .500 record from there on out will probably be worst case senario.

and i can understand the recent hate for Minn....but how can anyone hate minn more than NoDak? i don't see that being possible.
i'll be at tomorrows game against osu....hopefully it's an 8-0 laugher. thanks again.

Packer487 said...

Maine was probably the worst team that made the tournament last year and they got in with a 21-14-2 record. Kind of crazy to think that if we sweep the next two series (like you said, we probably SHOULD) we'd only need like 4 wins the rest of the year to make the tourney. If nothing else, this hot start gives us a HUGE margin for error should we go into a slump or have injury problems.

I hate Minnesota more than NoDak because I've never had cause to be annoyed by their fans, I didn't expect us to beat them either of the last two years, and I didn't REALLY get into college hockey until 2000. I watched when we were in the Frozen Four before that, but I missed out on a lot. The Gophers are just annoying.

I gotta call and upgrade my satellite package (again) tomorrow so that I can start getting the games on Fox Sports. Gonna be a lot of em coming up!

Anonymous said...

packer, if there's ever a game on TV you don't get, come on over. the only games i don't get seem to be the Comcast local games.