I was SO happy when that goal light went on. Obviously, the most important thing was that the late goal allowed us to salvage a point out of this weekend, but it also allows me to come here and bitch about the officiating and include the point that MSU got screwed too, so it's not just me whining. When we were down 2-1 late, I was actually thinking to myself "Man, I wish I didn't bring up Shegos last night, because it's going to sound like MAJOR sour grapes when I do it again tonight."
He is a friggin' idiot. I watched the replay a couple times of the first penalty that ended up leading to the 5 on 3, and I have no idea how 2 Michigan players ended up in the box. Usually it has to be something pretty obvious to not have those things be evened out, and there just wasn't anything. A couple of MSU guys had our players in headlocks, and they were a little more aggressive with the shoving, so I figured if anything we'd get a power play out of it (though I didn't think one was warranted). I have no idea how he found two Wolverines to call there. It looks like he called Mitera for tripping and evened up the roughing calls. You got me...
As for Rust's penalty which put MSU up two men, he slashed the guy, but the only reason he was out of position in the first place was that an MSU player clamped down on his stick and it took him a minute to get it out. No idea how they missed that one. Pretty weak call to put a team down two men anyway. And not ten seconds before that happened, Tim Miller (I think) was hit "from behind" in very similar fashion to Jack Johnson's hit on Howells a couple years ago (minus Kolarik being there to add the coup-de-grace). Same spot on the boards too.
Then there was the one where Abdelkader took a flying leap into our guy, they called it, and he somehow grabbed Ciraulo, who wasn't in the play, for slashing as well. FSN never showed a replay of that one, but I'm sure it was a legit call.
And going the other way, Rust interfered, cross-checked, whatever you want to call it on the tying goal. I'm calling that one revenge for the Cold War though, where Vancik was mauled trying to get out to Slater and Pio looked the other way. So that's three of the four goals which either shouldn't have counted, or were a power play tally off an absolute horsecrap call.
It's a sorry state of officiating in this league right now. Hall's probably the best they've got, and two or three years ago I would've preferred to see the teams call their own penalties over having him do a game.
It's a shame the officiating took so much away from my enjoyment of the game because I thought tonight's game was much better than last night's and much more entertaining. Lots of back and forth action, some big saves on both sides, some missed opportunities both ways. Aaron Palushaj had one labeled for the corner and Lerg robbed him, but if he could've gotten the puck up even slightly it was in the net. Tim Miller had a golden opportunity to win it in OT and fanned on the empty net (we'll get to him in a bit). And how bout that one Kennedy missed at the start of the third?
MSU kept up their forecheck even when they took the lead. It wasn't really until very late in the game that they went back into their shell and lined 4-5 up along the blueline. It was a lot more enjoyable to watch.
I think these games are really going to help us down the road. The comeback against ND last Friday and the games this weekend were tournament-style games. Now they've got a taste of it, and they'll get at least 4 more games like that (plus probably 4-5 in the CCHA playoffs) before we play for keeps. And they showed they could rally despite adversity back-to-back weekends. It would've been nice to tie yesterday's game up, but they did it on the road tonight and I think we'll be much better prepared next time we see MSU.
Our defensemen were a little out of sorts tonight. Mitera had some nice defensive plays (that guy has such a nice stick), but he also had some bad giveaways. Quick wasn't all that good again, though no plays really jump to mind. Summers had that pass he tried to throw off the boards behind his own net and he ended up putting it right to the MSU guy in the slot. Strangely enough, you know who was REALLY solid tonight from what I could tell on TV? Tristin Llewellyn. I thought he had a very nice game. Solid in his own end, and he's actually a pretty good stick-handler.
I also have to give a call to Langlais who busted his butt to get back and break up a breakaway. It's not easy to do that in college hockey without taking a penalty, but he did it to perfection. I can't say who was at fault for the breakaway happening (didn't think to look) but he completely took care of it.
I wonder why Vaughan sat this weekend. I thought he had been playing some pretty good hockey as of late. I guess it's possible that they're keeping with the defensive rotation, but doing it a weekend at a time rather than game by game. That would put Quick out next weekend. It's also possible that they just knew it was going to be physical this weekend and wanted Llewellyn's size out there.
Sauer was solid again. He made some big big stops, though he scared the begeezus out of me when he got out to the side of the net and then slid back into his crease with his back to the play.
Tim Miller is just snakebit. On TV they thought that he could've taken a second to tee that one in OT up, but with as fast as Lerg is post to post, I don't blame him a bit for trying to one-time it. It's just too bad he didn't bury it. It wasn't 30 seconds before that I said "Timmy, if you're ever going to get one this year, now's the time to do it." That goal could've gotten him going. They need to find a way to get him a garbage goal somehow. He's too good of a player to produce so little offensively.
And how nice was that feed from Kolarik to Pacioretty for the first goal? Kolarik on the rush meant that the dman couldn't shadow Patch. Max was aware enough to slide out a little to give himself some room and Chad made a great feed.
We had a lot of missed opportunities this weekend. Porter was quiet, our passing wasn't great, and yet we still had a lot of chances that we didn't bury (though credit Lerg and the MSU defense on a lot of those, too). I don't feel that we played all that badly...much better tonight than last night. I think we should be able to have a positive weekend next time we see this team. The young guys have a taste of the rivalry now and we'll have a few weeks to adjust to what they were doing to clog the middle.
Faceoffs have to get better. I don't know how much you can really work on it or how much you can improve in a short time, but when you play puck-possession, you really make it hard on yourself not having the puck. We're like the anti-Red Wings as of late. Part of the reason they're so tough is once they get the puck, they don't give it up...and they've always got the puck since I think they're the best faceoff team in the league. You make it really hard on yourself losing so many draws.
BTW, I don't think he did all that much this weekend, but that Ratchuk is a special player. I really think a lot of that kid...
That was a fun hockey game. And like I said...I think it really helps us down the line to have a couple games like this weekend's contests. Now they need to regroup, resist the urge to look ahead to Miami, and focus on taking four next weekend. We still control our own destiny in the conference.