First, an article from today's Battle Creek Enquirer about Michigan commitment Jared Knight.
MGoBlog talks hockey, and kills the Hobey voters once again for leaving Hensick out of the Hat Trick last year--and for not voting him the winner. I'm still pissed about that too.
Now, ten things to know about the Sparties from East Lansing:
1. They come into this weekend's matchup #6 in the country at 16-5-4, 12-2-2 in the CCHA. Losses were to North Dakota, Miami twice, Providence, and Michigan Tech. The four ties were against Minnesota, Wisconsin, LSSU, and Notre Dame. Their win over Notre Dame, however, is the only notable one that they have. It's actually their only win against a team receiving votes in the USCHO poll, which runs 31 deep.
2. Jeff Lerg is playing well once again, having posted a 2.27 goals against and a .922 save percentage. He has won the CCHA Goaltender of the Week (I guess that would be Goaltender of the WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK for the Sparties out there) three times in a row.
3. The Spartan offense is stout, ranking #5 in the country at 3.48 gpg. They actually have more ten point (12-11), twenty point (6-3) and ten goal (4-2) scorers than Michigan. But they also don't have anyone like Porter or Kolarik. Tim Kennedy has 13-14--27 on the season. Porter could do that blindfolded, with one hand on his stick. They rank 16th nationally in scoring defense.
4. As for the special teams, they have the #4 power play in the country, which is clicking along at 22.9%, thanks to contributions from guys like Kennedy (7 PPG), Benedict Lerg (5 PPG) and somebody named Matt Schepke, who has more power play goals this year (6) than he had points in his career coming in (5 in two years). He has 10-14--24 overall. Weird.
5. The penalty kill is kind of meh. 84.3 isn't bad by any means, but it ranks just 34th in the country. They're +23 in power play opportunities, whereas Michigan is -8. Totally makes sense. No McInchak this weekend, please. I know people weren't overly thrilled with Hall last weekend, but unfortunately he might be the best this conference has to offer. I doubt they'd let him do games of this magnitude, but I'd like to see Sergott again. He was great when we had him before.
6. MSU has killed off 28 straight penalties, and hasn't allowed a PPG in their last seven contests.
7. Tim Kennedy has been the Wolverine-killer with 10 points in 11 games against Michigan. Lerg, Crowder, Abdelkader, and Mueller have 5+ points in their careers against scUM (LOLOLOL!). We've actually had some success against Jeff Lerg. He's 4-3-3 in his career in this rivalry (yup Dantonio, I said it!) but has a 2.74 goals against and a .908 save percentage, which are both well down from his career marks.
8. MSU is 14-1-2 when scoring first and 2-4-2 when they don't get the first one. They also have not come back to win a game when trailing after the first or second period. They get out to fast starts. Michigan State has outscored their opponents 34-17 in the first period, but their margins are +7 and +2 for the second and third, respectively.
9. Here's a weird stat for you: They're 9-0-0 when they have more penalty minutes than their opposition or the tally is the same, but are 8-5-2 when they take less penalties.
10. They're yet another good faceoff team, sitting at 53.6% on the year. The players below 50% on the roster have combined to take just 44 faceoffs this year. Chris Mueller is their best, at an impressive 58.2%.
Also notable, the Wolverines should have Max Pacioretty back this weekend. He's missed the last 3 games with a shoulder injury.
Finally, a fun stat from the MGoBlue release. Red Berenson is just 5 wins short of second place on Michigan's all-time, all-sport coaching wins list. Carol Hutchins is far and away #1 with over 1,000 victories.