Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Media Roundup: Ohio State Split

The winning streak had to come to an end sometime. It sucks that it was against OSU, but it's really not all that surprising, given the nature of that series as of late. We saw a senior almost single-handedly will us back Friday night, and a slew of freshmen re-emerge on Saturday, including a goalie making his first career start. Let's check out the general reaction to the weekend. We also get to see if anyone in Columbus remembers that they have a hockey team:

The Michigan Side:
Colin wrote a pair of articles: One about the team's play this weekend and one giving his thoughts on Bryan Hogan. Enjoyable reads as always. Completely agree with him that our passing was just off Friday night. Colin was also very complimentary of Pacioretty's play this weekend. We do miss Caporusso on draws, especially against a team like OSU that's great on faceoffs.

The Daily says that they're looking to switch things up a little bit on the power play since teams are starting to catch on. Seems like that happens every year. Eventually teams caught on to us sending the puck to Gajic for the one-timer a couple years back and we never adjusted. Hopefully things work out a little better this year.

Also in that article, they talk about Chris Summers moving back to forward. It sounds as if it's an experiment for next weekend only, and then they'll consider it in the future if it works out. I'm thrilled about this move. I think I advocated it in the season previews for Summers, Vaughan, Quick, Langlais and Llewellyn. I love Summers's game up front, and our freshmen have been very good. As Colin pointed out, it's readily fixable should our youngster start running around or if we need to protect a lead "OK, you're on D now". As I said earlier, it's almost like dressing 12 forwards and 6.5/7 defensemen. Reportedly, he's been skating with Turnbull and Miller. That's one helluva checking line and it actually has some offensive upside.

Chad Kolarik quashes the idea that there's a goalie controversy. Chad's comments don't entirely mesh with what Red Berenson said, but "goalie controversy" is still too strong of a statement. Sauer has earned the right to be the #1, but I do expect Hogan to get his starts now and then. It wouldn't shock me a bit if we see him against Bowling Green this weekend. If we prove to have two good goalies, then bully for us. They'll both get to play, but barring a letdown/meltdown, Sauer is the guy. He's been outstanding this year and one good performance out of Hogan doesn't change that. All Hogan's performance means is that he's probably earned a few more starts, and Red doesn't have to be scared to yank Billy if he's struggling, as Red was during the NoDak game last year.

The Daily
reports on Hogan's first start, including Red's comments. Apparently Sauer was getting fatigued. Having a quality backup goalie will help him. And even though I think Josh Blackburn is quite possibly the best goalie coach in history, I'm not sure how a goalie has a "fifth gear". BTW, check out the picture included in this article. Hogan's pads are kind of sweet. Montoya still wins for coolest mask though. That thing was amazing.

Here's The Ann Arbor News's take on Hogan's performance.

It was a frustrating weekend at times for both teams.

Good article about the freshmen, but c'mon Nate, it's Canadiens. Sacrebleu! The Ann Arbor News also had an article about the lineup changes.

Our student section really chanted "filthy inbreds"? That's classic!

TJ Hensick made his NHL debut over the weekend. He and Mike Brown also scored their first career goals.

The Buckeye dominance in the faceoff circle played a big role in the game. Corey Elkins was 13-2 on draws on Friday night. Can't score if you don't have the puck. I'd really love to see the Daily do a piece on the anatomy of a faceoff. There are a lot of things that I'd like to know, because I'm sure it's not as random as when I take draws. How do you practice for them? Is there an advantage to the visitor getting to put his stick down first? Are there any particular attributes that make someone a good faceoff man? Why have we sucked at them for 8 years? I feel like it'd be a pretty fun story. But maybe I'm just a nerd that would read an article about winning faceoffs.

Berenson won't say why Kampfer sat Friday night. At his press conference, he said something along the lines of "In house. It's been dealt with."

Nice feature on one of the freshmen I've been most impressed with: Chad Langlais

Awards: Porter was CCHA Player of the Month while Pacioretty was CCHA Rookie of the Month

Stat Hunting:

Kevin Porter's 26 points already would have placed him 8th on last year's offensive juggernaut.

Aaron Palushaj leads the team in assists with 13 and already has more points than any freshman last season. He's on pace for 34, which would match Porter's total from last season. Pretty damn impressive for a freshman that doesn't play on the top line (though he gets most of his points by being on the top power play unit).

Scooter Vaughan's +7 ranks him #1 amongst our freshman defenders.

We have 7 players with 5 or more goals.

We're outscoring opponents by a 2:1 ratio, 66 to 33.

Our penalty kill is now at 88.6%, which is kind of amazing.

After the struggles this weekend, our faceoffs are down to 48.4%. Fardig is back at 39%. Even Rust is only 50.0% now.

Pacioretty has had points in 11 of his last 12 games.

Hogan is the only player that has dressed for a game and doesn't have a point. None of our four freshmen defensemen have scored a goal, but all six forwards have.

The Ohio State View:
They really don't know they have a hockey team--or they just don't care. There was nothing in the Dispatch beyond a one-paragraph wire report about Friday's game. There were no articles period in the student newspaper The Lantern. I understand the excitement over being in the BCSCG, but it kind of makes me sad that hockey doesn't even get a mention. Makes my job a little easier I guess.

The Commit That Wasn't:
Earlier in the day, the Canadian Hockey News reported that Toronto Junior Canadiens forward Devante Smith-Pelly had commited to the Wolverines. The Wolverine checked with some sources, after there were indications that this wasn't true, and were able to confirm that the story was false and that Smith-Pelly isn't likely to be a Michigan player in the future. The CHN has since posted a retraction saying that their source was "completely and utterly wrong".

What's interesting is that Smith-Pelly's teammate, Tyler Toffoli, was at Yost last weekend wearing a Michigan sweatshirt. Apparently he's got 1st round OHL potential.


Anonymous said...

re: going to Gajic for the one-timer on PP's: OSU didn't seem to catch on too quickly. I still remember his one-timer past Caruso, off both posts, and in for the first goal of the '05 CCHA Championship. His shots were just devastating that year.

On a relative note, I'm finally getting around to transferring all of my VHS to DVD. Recording right now: Michigan vs. Wisconsin '05 regional. Up next: CC (expletive).

Packer487 said...

Yeah, I really turned into a Gajic fan his senior year. It helped that he ALWAYS laughed at the things I would write on the dry-erase board on the glass. He looked really confused when I had the sign written in Finnish. The look on his face was priceless!

If I'm remembering right, there was a big stretch in the middle of the season where that play just didn't work.

That CC game sucked, sucked, sucked. Montoya didn't play his best game (None of the goals were really his fault, but you'd like him to stop a couple), our defense just left, and Scott Hansen didn't help (Same dude who effed up the 2003 semifinal against Minnesota). Checking from behind? Not calling those? Hmm.

I don't suppose I could talk ya into uploading some of your hockey stuff to the Bit Torrent site, could I? :-D

Anonymous said...

A couple of answers on the faceoff questions, having taken quite a few in my time:

The visitor putting the stick down first can be a big advantage. It's an inexact science, but the combination of stick positioning and the angle of the blade and upper body position can provide hints as to which way the opposing player plans to go with the puck. You can then adjust to overpower, outmaneuver, or neutralize what the visitor is trying to do.

What makes a good faceoff man? Superior hand-eye coodination and knowing your opponent. Much like goalies have mental books on shooters, good centers have mental books on what their opponents like to do on faceoffs. Do they like to turn the top hand over for more strength? Do they always try to win to the backhand side? Will they try to shoot off the draw in the offensive zone on their forehand side?

Some of my most difficult moments as a center have been when I didn't know my opponent and it would take some time during the game (or afterwards) trying to figure out how to counter their tendencies. Anyway, maybe that provided a little insight.

Packer487 said...

That was great, thanks Brad!

I never really thought about it too much, but I had always assumed that it was an advantage to put your stick down first--like it was a bone they were throwing to the visiting team since home team gets last change. I guess I'd like to see our breakdown for faceoffs at home vs. on the road now.

I think it would be a pretty interesting story, since it's a part of the game that (I assume) not many people know that much about and it can play such a huge role in the outcome. Can't score if you don't have the puck.

Part of the reason for the Wings' success is because they're such a good faceoff team. When you play puck possession and you win the draws a high percentage of the time, it's tough for the other team to get going. They can kill half a shift just trying to get the puck puck away from the Wings and that's big, especially if we're playing a one-line team.

Anonymous said...

Our faceoff percentage this year is pretty much the same whether at home or on the road. There are some interesting player-to-player differences, though. These stats are through Friday's game against BGSU, and include every player with at least 3 faceoffs taken per game.

Home--49 percent
Away--48 percent

Matt Rust:
Home--43 percent
Away--57 percent

Kevin Porter:
Home--46 percent
Away--46 percent

Louie Caporusso:
Home--69 percent
Away--43 percent (!)

Carl Hagelin:
Home--54 percent
Away--53 percent

Chad Kolarik:
Home--53 percent
Away--56 percent

Max Pacioretty:
Home--49 percent
Away--57 percent

Danny Fardig:
Home--40 percent
Away--38 percent

I have no idea what's up with Caporusso's numbers.