The weekend is finally here and it's time for Michigan to play MSU in a series that won't see Chad Kolarik on the ice, will see Red Berenson coach his 1,000th game tonight, and might see the Wolverines clinch a CCHA title.
8:05 puck drop tonight on CSTV, 7:05 tomorrow on Fox Sports Detroit. You can also watch tonight's game on CSTV PPV for $7.95.
10 things to know about MSU and this weekend in general:
1) As I said, tonight will be Red Berenson's 1,000th game behind the bench at Michigan. Congrats to Red on a great milestone. As for the CCHA title, it could conceivably happen as early as tonight if Michigan wins and Miami somehow loses to WMU. On our end, two points this weekend eliminates MSU. Four points wins the title.
2) Spartina is now 20-8-5 on the season (16-5-3 in the CCHA). Since we last saw them, they've split with Omaha, been swept by NMU, and swept WMU, outscoring their opponents 16-15 in that six game span. They've moved up to #6 in the USCHO and USA Today polls, and sit 7th in the Pairwise.
3) MSU will apparently be without freshman forward Dustin Gazely, who injured his knee in practice. He has 3 goals and 11 points in 32 games. There's been some question on USCHO if this report is accurate.
4) The Spartans have 8 players with 20 or more points, led by Tim Kennedy with 14-18--32 in 33 games. Benedict Lerg leads them in goals with 17. Mike Ratchuk is their leading defense scorer with 6-15--21. Jeff Lerg is 19-8-5 on the year with a 2.25/.922.
5) Lerg, Crowder, and Kennedy have fared the best against Michigan in their careers. Lerg has 11 points in 18 games (seems like about 30 points to me). Kennedy and Crowder each have 10 points in 11 games. All three players have six tallies against the Wolverines. 5 of Crowder's have come on the PP. Want a candidate to end up in the box? Justin Abdelkader, who hopefully will be moved at the deadline by the Wings, has taken 13 penalties in 12 games against Michigan. Ratchuk is -5 in 8 games and has just 1 point--a goal. Go after him! Jeff Lerg is 5-3-4 against Michigan and has somehow given up 2.43 goals per game. He has a .917 save percentage and 2 shuouts.
6) After this weekend, Michigan and MSU will have played 269 times, according to MSU's records which include 5 extra games (and 4 Michigan wins). That's second all-time to North Dakota/Minnesota as the most-contested series.
7) Michigan ranks second in the country in scoring offense (3.88 goals per game) while MSU comes in 11th (3.21 goals per game). It's the same rankings on the defensive side. Michigan is second in the country at 1.97 gpg (wow) and MSU is 11th giving up 2.36 gpg.
8) The power plays are very close. Michigan is 5th nationally (21.3%) and MSU is 6th (21.2%). The Spartans have given up one additional short-handed goal. They've had 184 power play opportunities to our 174 this year.
9) Michigan is 10th nationally on the penalty kill (88.7%) but has tallied seven shorties. MSU is further down the list at 22nd (85.5%) and has four short-handed goals. They've been short-handed 35 fewer times, however.
10) Over the past five years, and 22 games, Michigan has had nine fewer power plays than MSU. There have been 9 games where Michigan has had more man-advantages, 10 where we've had fewer, and three where the teams have been equal. On average, there have only been about nine power plays combined, per game. Quick rule of thumb: Smile if it's Aaron (+2 over 2 games) or Hall (+3 over 2 games). Frown if it's McInchak (-5 over 3 games) or Shegos (-4 over 9 games). Chances are, we're getting Shegos, since he's apparently the best ref in the conference. Just tell your crew not to trip our defensemen tonight, kay?