Saturday, November 17, 2007

Weekend Recap: Sweep of LSSU

I know I write this every week, but once again, I'm speechless. I know we're not playing the toughest teams the CCHA has to offer. I know the majority of these are games that we "should" win. But how could anyone have predicted an 11-1-0 start to this season? The best CCHA start in the history of the team? The best start overall in 4 1/2 decades?

I swore, swore that Billy Sauer wouldn't "fool" me again. I wrote that at least a half-dozen times during the offseason. And I'm scared to say this, especially with Wisconsin and Minnesota on the horizon, but I'm starting to believe again. How can you not? His GAA through the first third of the season is 2.07 and his save percentage is up to .913! I don't know if it's the light finally going on (he IS only 19) or if Josh Blackburn is the friggin' best goalie coach in the history of the world, but this is getting scary. And if it keeps up, you're damn right that I'll be in Denver holding a "Sauer, I'm Sorry" sign, like Wings fans were doing with Mike Vernon during the 97 Cup run.

I had to listen to Friday's game driving back to Michigan from Madison. After not playing well early on (despite outshooting LSSU 12-6 in the first) and being down 1-0 after the first period--on a goal which Sauer supposedly had no chance on--the Wolverines just took over. Our top line had two goals in a two minute span, Kampfer sprung Turnbull for a breakaway goal, and shortly after that Palushaj had a breakaway of his own that he rung off the bar. Palushaj later lit the lamp on another breakaway.

Is it just me or have our defensemen just been dead-on on homerun passes so far this season? I swear we're getting an absurd number of breakaways and a lot of that is due to the passing ability of Langlais, Kampfer, and Mitera. Kampfer already has career highs in goals, assists, and points.

Tonight's game was more of the same. Got down early, scored 3 goals in the second period and never looked back. Sauer set a season high in saves, we somehow managed to go 10-10 on the PK (10 power plays? Really?), and we got more strong play out of the usual suspects: Porter, Kolarik, Pacioretty, Palushaj, Turnbull, Mitera.

And how bout that fourth line tonight? Anthony Ciraulo got to play with Caporusso being out, and the Lebler-Fardig-Ciraulo line combined for 2 goals and 4 assists on the night. When that line is contributing offensively, you know things are going well (and I don't mean that in a negative way, but that's not really their game).

I don't know what it is about playing LSSU, but it seems like we always end up on the short end of the power plays. It's completely the opposite of what you'd expect, since Michigan is clearly the more talented team, but it seems like we always are killing off a ton of Laker PPs. This weekend it was 15-6, last year was 15-13, the year before it was 8-4, and in 04-05 it was 15 apiece. It's just strange.

I'd venture a guess that it's not all that common for a team to get 3 power plays to the opponent's 11, had 2 PP shots to the opponent's 15, to have 40 PIMs to the opponent's 14 (granted it's skewed by Turnbull's 16 minutes at the end of the game) and win the contest.

With 5 blocked shots tonight, Chris Summers stopped just 4 less pucks than Laker goalie Pat Inglis.

Congrats to Zac MacVoy on a nice weekend (1-1--2 against his old team). Like I said, I always liked that kid and I really want to see him do well at LSSU.

How long til John Markell loses his job? I swear I'm not being bitter-Michigan-fan looking to tear down OSU (because it would be great for the conference to have OSU and Notre Dame be consistently good hockey teams), but they're 2-8-1 on the year, 0-6-0 in the CCHA, they got swept by Ferris and UNO, and just tied Robert Morris tonight. It seems like the Buckeyes are perennial underachievers (though I guess this is only going on 3 years since they were good) and with how much money they sink into the football and basketball programs (and not just into the players pockets!)--and the athletic department in general--it seems strange to me that they're not looking to get that ship righted in a hurry.

Blogging will probably be very light--if not completely absent--this week. I'm heading down to Kentucky tomorrow for the family Thanksgiving and I've heard rumblings that my grandma no longer has internet access. So we'll see. If there's no way for me to get online, it'll likely be Sunday before I can update--though I wouldn't miss the Michigan/Minnesota game Saturday night for the world.

As for football, that was a dreadful, disappointing performance. I'm more than ready for a regime change, but I'd also like to thank Lloyd for all his years of service to this program. It's sad to see him go out like this, but the memories have been much more good than bad--even if there was a lot of frustration. I'll let the other guys break down the game much better than I possibly could, but I swear our offense looks like a game of Tecmo Bowl--4 plays, and there's a 1 out of 4 chance that the offensive line won't block anyone.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone. It's beyond sappy to say, but I am thankful for each and every one of you who reads this blog. It's really rewarding to see the audience of this site continue to grow, even if I know it's never going to be huge do to it being as much of a niche site as you can possibly get.

Oh, and Go Packers!


Tom said...

To continue the sappy mood, thanks to you for all the time you spend analyzing the team. I'm stuck in Texas and only get to watch Michigan Hockey a half a dozen times a year. Your insights are tremendous. Thanks!

Blair Willcox said...

absolutely agree with what Tom said. I started reading when I was still in Ann Arbor, now I'm also in Madison, and well, Wisconsin hockey just ain't the same.

thanks for all the updates, we really do appreciate it!

Becky said...

Happy Thanksgiving! Oh man, I hope we have a good weekend . . . I really don't want our season to date to be "undefeated except for Minnesota."

Blair Willcox said...

if anyone is dying for hockey updates, the new mgoblue has video highlights on the website of the Wisconsin game last night. 10+ minute of highlights and interview, gave me a little fix of Michigan hockey.

/wishing i had satellite so I could watch the games.