I had my own hockey game tonight, so I caught this one on the DVR. I managed to not hear anything about our game. So it was kind of amazing that I knew what the final score was by the end of the first period. I believe my exact words were, "We're going to lose this ****ing game 1-0, aren't we?"
It ain't the first time we've seen this. MSU gets the first goal, goes into their bitch-ass-albeit-very-effective trap, and sits on the lead the rest of the game. It sounds like sour grapes, and it most definitely is, but I hate that kind of hockey. And I hate more that it always seems to work.
That's a disciplined hockey team right there, and they clearly have benefited from the experience they brought back and the run to the championship last year. Our team seemed out of sorts tonight, especially a few of the freshmen. It was a young team's first taste of the rivalry against a veteran group. Not really a shocking outcome.
Sauer played well again. Not a whole heckuva lot he could do about the lone goal and he made a couple of huge saves, particularly on the breakaway not even a minute into the game, which was a gorgeous toe save. He left some rebounds and he seemed to slide his way out of position a few times, like last Friday against Notre Dame, but neither of those things bit us in any way.
The biggest problem was that it seemed like our players were panicking with the puck. MSU got out on our guys and they didn't respond. So much of the game was spent turning the puck over or just blindly firing it into the slot.
Not to single him out specifically, but I thought Kevin Quick was really lousy with the puck tonight. He didn't do anything especially wrong in our own end, but I was going to dive through the TV if he turned the puck over again. The most glaring error was when he brought it into the zone moving to his left, one of our forwards criss-crossed behind him, and instead of leaving it for the forward, he carried it to his left, then threw a lazy pass at the forward. It was picked off by Kennedy, and he took it end to end and nearly scored.
We did have a few grade-A scoring chances, but the Wolverines obviously didn't make the most of any of them. MSU's defense and Jeff Lerg had quite a bit to do with that, though I felt like we made it too easy for them a lot of the time.
One thing that they're going to have to adjust to when playing better, more defensive-minded teams, is that they aren't going to be able to hit on nearly as many of those homerun passes out of our own zone. We've been good for 3 or 4 breakaways a game on most nights, but State does such a nice job of clogging the middle that it just wasn't working.
He didn't play a big role in the outcome of the game, but I wish we could go back to having the other Shegos. Matt is awful, and I get reminded of it more and more every time he does one of our games. He really wasn't especially bad tonight, but I had a big problem with calling the hook late in the game (and it was a penalty, don't get me wrong) when he let two very similar plays go at the other end (Porter got hooked off the puck then slashed as he was shooting on his breakaway, and not 3 minutes before the call on us, Quick made a very nice move around the defenseman and got tripped--to be fair, he might not have been able to get back to the puck...hard to tell on the replay). On those, my immediate thought was "Swallowing the whistle late in a one-goal game", but then he blows that one. Not happy.
Over at the Yost Post, BigTenKing compared playing MSU to getting squeezed to death by a python. Pretty good analogy if you ask me. It's really important to come out and get the first goal tomorrow night so that MSU can't get back into their suffocating defense. Hopefully the nerves calm down a little bit, especially with the young guys, and tomorrow night we get back to playing our game.