Thursday, April 03, 2008

Going Upstairs: Michigan vs. Clarkson

For the last look at the past before we start looking ahead to the Frozen Four, it's time to take a go upstairs and review the Michgan/Clarkson game:

First penalty of the game went to Clarkson. Pretty clear hit from behind on DeFazio. The Clarkson coach wasn't happy but I don't think that one is even arguable. They never showed a replay so maybe it wasn't as bad as it looked, but based on the live shot he's actually lucky that wasn't five with the way college hockey has been officiated the past couple of seasons.

Some good chances for Michigan on the first shift of the power play. Kolarik and Porter each had a couple of bombs. They were working the power play up higher this time, rather than down low like the night before. Nothing doing when the second unit was out there. Clarkson had a decent chance when a Michigan outlet pass was broken up and came back the other way. Mitera got over to force the Clarkson player to shoot before he could get in on Sauer. Billy got out to the top of his crease and maybe got a piece of it.

We've been offside at least three times on rushes in the first five minutes.

Matt Rust was called for a penalty after Winnett failed to clear. We never got a replay, so I'm not positive that the failed clear had anything to do with Rust getting called. He was over by our bench with another player and he got called for obstruction-interference, so who knows. If he did interfere, it probably didn't make sense to do it. The puck was headed back into our zone where the goalie was set to play it and we had 2 D back against no forecheckers.

Good kill by Michigan. Clarkson had one decent opportunity where their man picked up the puck about 2 feet in front of the net, but he didn't really have anywhere to go with the puck. I think all four of our defensemen out there on the kill had at least one ice of the puck.

Two great chances by D'Alvise right there. Two Michigan players went to the boards with one Clarkson guy, and he was able to cycle back and feed it to a streaking Zalewski. He fed D'Alvise in the slot, who was able to get off a nice turnaround shot despite being pretty well-covered by Summers. He then got his own rebound and threw another one off Sauer's pad. The first one was a top-notch save.

Nice play by Langlais there to break up a cross-ice pass to Marks, who was heading for an easy tap-in.

The announcer comments that Michigan has taken some icings and had some questionable turnovers in their own zone. I actually don't have Michigan "credited" with a single D-zone turnover yet. There have been a couple of failed clears, but nothing that resulted in Clarkson gaining possession in our end.

Kolarik had a great chance. Pacioretty stole the puck at center ice and angled one off the board to Kolarik. He headed into the Clarkson zone, dangled around an attempted poke-check by the back-rushing defenseman (crafty to do that and not just let the shot go), skated in and rung one off the bar. Man he's got a great wrist-shot. Hit Leggio's shoulder and deflected off the bar.

Some penalties coming here at 13:01. This was where Paquet knocked Kolarik down and then punched him in the face. Kolarik was called for "embellishment"...I guess "diving" wasn't descriptive enough? Kolarik really helped the first one, though I don't think it warranted the Joe Buck-esque reaction from the color guy. Probably should've been evened-up. Two for diving, two for roughing after the whistle on Paquet. I don't think the interference call should've been made. Pretty significant, as the ensuing power play leads to our first goal.

Winnett is seeing a lot of special teams time as of late. He was the guy moved up to the first power play unit with Kolarik in the box. They're working it high again and setting Porter up for the one-timer.

Michigan 1-0! Palushaj scored on a wrap-around. Nothing special about that one. One defenseman was on him, but he got the goalie down, went around the net and was able to tuck it in. Amazing how often that works for Michigan. Pacioretty was able to drive the net and get the other defenseman to follow him, which left the far side open for Palushaj to bring the puck around. As good as he's been as a freshman, it wouldn't shock me a bit to see his goals go way up as a sophomore. He's got 10 right now.

Tripping penalty on Kampfer. That was iffy. He got him for tripping and Kampfer did put his stick between the guy's legs, but he didn't fall because of the stick. He fell because Kampfer pushed him down. He had his hand off his stick, but he didn't hold him. He just pushed. Not a fan of that one. Then again, we just got a goal off a power play that shouldn't have been....Of course, there's a trip on Mitera that led to a defensive-zone turnover (luckily the guy flubbed it and it came out of the zone) that wasn't called. No great chances on that PP, though they did get two shots.

And Kampfer's going back into the box, this time for holding. Legit. Kampfer didn't have a stick and grabbed Zalewski, pinning him to the boards. The ref yelled a couple times to let him go and Kamp didn't, so it's back to the sin bin.

Have I mentioned that George Roll looks an awful lot like ex-Packers coach Mike Sherman?

Nice play by Mitera as Guthrie tried to bring it out of the corner. Mitera used that long reach to knock the puck away. End of 1. They have SOG 10-10, scoring chances 5-3 in Clarkson's favor, and turnovers 10-6 Michigan. I have just two of those TOs coming in our defensive zone, though quite a few were on outlet passes from our defensive end. I thought our passing coming up ice was very sloppy.

Good kill, nice stick by Rust, who was able to break up a pass and clear it down the ice. Langlais sent Miller and Fardig away on a 2 on 1, Miller got the pass through, but Digger fanned. PP over. Most everything was kept to the perimeter and Clarkson didn't get a shot on that PP.

Penalty on Llewellyn for cross-checking on a scramble in front of the net. He never cross-checked him. He took his hand off his stick, knocked him down with his free hand, and landed on top of him. Possibly a penalty, but based on the replay it was more of a "There's a guy laying in front of the net so I should probably call something" out of the ref. Definitely not a cross-check. The announcer says "Llewellyn went down on his man right in front of the net." That's inappropriate.

Guthrie picked our guy's pocket on the faceoff and walked right in before back-handing a pass through the slot that didn't connect. He probably could have shot that one. Summers kind of took himself out of the play by lunging for the puck. If Guthrie had pulled it back onto his forehand, he would have been in cold turkey. Nice job by Kampfer to keep it from being a good scoring chance. Nice stop by Sauer a couple seconds later.


Langlais off for cross-checking. The AR called this one. He gave him a pretty good shot. I just always find it amusing when the official is staring right at it, doesn't make a call, and the guy 75 feet away raises his arm.

It almost bit us. Off a won faceoff, Clarkson worked it down low and sent a pass right into the slot for a DeFazio one-timer. It was basically the Palushaj-Kolarik-Pacioretty play that we worked so well the night before. Sauer made a great save.

Nice blocked shot by Mitera and he's taken down when he tries to clear it. Good call on Dodge for hitting from behind.

They're really shadowing Pacioretty on this power play. Again, Michigan was working it up high to Porter for one-timers. Finally they went back down low. The pass to Pacioretty wasn't there because he had a pair of guys draped all over him, so Kolarik brought it out of the corner and had a chance to stuff it. I think we've found something on our first PP unit.

Llewellyn called for tripping. Clarkson banked a long pass off the boards, looking to hit Dodge who was out of the box. Llewellyn just got his stick caught between Dodge's legs. That's getting called 100 times out of 100.

Mitera has been a beast on the PK tonight. He's cleared at least a half dozen pucks down the ice. Blocked shots, blocked passes. He's been great. Our sticks as a whole have been active tonight. Digger just blocked a shot and it led to a clear.

This just occured to me...Would it be fair to compare Matt Rust to Justin Abdelkader? They're both fast, good hitters, work their butts off, good on the PK, have some offensive skill, and both take mind numbingly stupid penalties at times. Rust is better about the latter than Abdelkader (just 22 minors to 41 this year), but I think it's a pretty fair comparison because he does need to be more disciplined. Abdelkader had 10-12--22 as a freshman, Rust has 11-10--21, despite not nearly as much PP time. I think I'm on to something here.

Hagelin just got punched in the face right in front of the ref. Not calling those tonight evidently.

I don't know how much the Perfect Pushup paid to have almost exclusive advertising rights to the NCAA Hockey Tournament, but I kind of want a set of those. Don't say advertising doesn't work! I want a cheesy beefy melt every time I see one of those commercials. If anyone from Taco Bell is reading this, you're bat-**** crazy if you get rid of those again.

There are two minutes left in the second period and Michigan only has 12 shots on goal (and six have been on the PP). Clarkson has done a nice job bottling Michigan up, especially coming through the neutral zone where Michigan has been so strong this year.

They finally connected on one of those cross-ice passes through center ice and it nearly paid off. Kolarik let it go off the boards and took it on the rebound. He outskated his defenseman and pulled it to his backhand as he cut through the top of the crease. Leggio read it and made a nice stop.

Late in the period Porter and Kolarik came in 2 on 0. Porter couldn't get the puck to lay down and by the time he did, Kolarik was in too deep to get a great shot off. You're not going to see that duo miss on too many 2 on 0s.

And 26 seconds into the third period, Michigan goes up by 2. Clitsome tried to clear the puck, Kolarik held it in. He hit Pacioretty who pulled it to the middle of the ice and drew both defensemen to him, allowing Porter to walk in from the faceoff dot untouched. He threaded a pass through to Hobey and he was able to tuck it five-hole. Our top line is just disgusting. I honestly can't believe how good of a player Kevin Porter is. All the players that have come through this program and he's going to be just the second to win the Hobey. Incredible accomplishment out of this senior.

Penalty on D'Alvise for high-sticking. The puck bounced high in the air. Kolarik went for it with his glove, D'Alvise went for it with his stick. When he was bringing his stick back down, D'Alvise connected with Kolarik's head. Good call.

Nauarto negated part of the power play with a slash of his own. Meh. Just before that, Mitera got a shot through from the point that Turnbull got a stick on and deflected it just wide. Turns is pretty good at that. Maybe we should get him to the net more on the second power play unit. They haven't put in a ton of goals lately. He's strong and he's good on tips. Go muck it up in front. Score a dirty goal or two.

Huge stop by Sauer there. Guthrie came in on Vaughan, beat him to the outside and backhanded a shot on goal. The rebound kicked out into the slot and Dodge fired it back at Sauer, who was off-balance but made the save. Even though they don't have a ton of shots, Clarkson has had several Grade A scoring chances.

During the four-on-four, Vaughan redeemed himself by keeping Zalewski to the outside on a rush and Summers easily blocked the centering attempt. Porter had a really crafty backcheck to get the puck and keep possession. That let him break out with Kolarik on a 2 on 1. Kolarik saucered a pass but Clitsome made a great play, sticking his glove out and knocking it out of the air.

Beca rocked Kampfer from behind into the boards. I'm really surprised that one wasn't five. Kampfer hit shoulder-first (thankfully) but Beca hit him square in the back. Stupid, stupid hit, especially when you're down 2 goals and on the PP.

Michigan just missed going up by 3 on the ensuing power play. Kolarik won the faceoff and slid to the middle of the ice, Mitera took a shot-pass toward Kolarik who tipped it back to Leggio's right and it rung off the iron. Porter just missed on the rebound. Kolarik didn't bury one, but he had a ton of chances in this game. Even when he doesn't score, he's always really active, getting scoring chances and setting things up. That's a dangerous player.

DeFazio got called for interference. He took down Winnett as they were going up ice. Right after that, D'Alvise was called for slashing and Michigan had a golden chance on a 5 on 3 for over a minute. He just wound up and smacked the Michigan player's stick. You don't usually see stick-on-stick slashes get called unless someone breaks their composite, but when you wind up that much, it's probably getting called.

Curious decision by Red not to use his timeout and keep Porter's line out there, but he went with the second power play unit and they didn't get much going. Mitera hit Caporusso on a cross-ice pass, but it wasn't a great chance. Once it was back to 5-on-4, Kolarik tried to hit Porter streaking in from the point (the exact same play that worked for Porter's third goal the night before) but the pass didn't connect because Leggio got his stick on it. The forward responsible for the top left portion of the box can't fall asleep for a second when those guys are on the ice. Porter knew right when to go and Kolarik read it perfectly.

Some nice pressure by Caporusso's line created a great scoring chance and another Michigan power play. Turnbull won a battle in the corner and got it to Louie who flipped a shot on net. The rebound bounced around in front and a clearing attempt hit Caporusso. With two Clarkson players down on top of Turnbull in the slot, Louie deked around a third Golden Knight, pulled it to his forehand and ripped one on net just as he was slashed by Marks. Good call, that was a BC Two-Hander.

The power play was short-lived, however, as Kampfer headed off for tripping just 29 seconds later. Clarkson won yet another faceoff in the Michigan end, Dodge snuck in between Kolarik and Kampfer and the point man fed him perfectly. Kampfer had to trip him or he'd have been right in on Sauer. He still got a pretty good scoring chance. Nice stop by Sauer, and that penalty was probably more on Porter than on Kampfer.

Hagelin went off for interference shortly thereafter, and there was no replay (beyond the fact that the guy ended up on the ice) so no comment. Clarkson pulled their goalie for a 5 on 3 that would become a 6 on 3 in 35 seconds.

This was the sequence of absolutely absurd saves by Sauer. It started off another lost faceoff in our defensive zone (wait til you hear these stats). D'Alvise sent it down low to Zalewski who put a backhand shot off the iron. The rebound came right to D'Alvise in the slot and he took a rising shot that Kolarik blocked. Sauer dove to his left to stop the next opportunity and he dropped his stick. While he was down, he stopped Dodge and Beca, then held his post, stopped Beca again, stopped another shot with his blocker hand while he was sprawled out, and another hit him in the stomach before Michigan could dig it out of there. So if you're counting, that's six saves, a post, and a huge block by Kolarik. One of the most unbelievable sequences of goaltending I've ever seen. The overhead shot is fantastic. This sequence is the reason I'm keeping this game on my DVR until I can convert it to DVD somehow.

And those saves were huge. If Clarkson scores there, it's 2-1 and they've got a good minute and a half left, with a 6 on 4 for another half-minute. As it was, our defense started blocking shots and the Golden Knights only got maybe one more great scoring chance, which Sauer dove to his right to stop.

That really wasn't the best game I've ever seen Michigan play. Their passing out of their own zone was terrible and they went offside on rushes way too many times. That said, the top line had a ton of chances, the penalty killing was great, and Billy Sauer was phenomenal between the pipes.

Clarkson ended up with 27 shots, but they didn't spend all that much time down in the Michigan end. By my count, out of the 80 faceoffs in the game, just 19 took place in the Michigan zone. The problem? We lost 14 of those draws. If we could've been even 50% on faceoffs in our end, I imagine the Golden Knights would have had a lot less scoring opportunities because they really couldn't carry the puck into our zone. Lost faceoffs caused the Kampfer penalty late in the game as well as the 6-save sequence that nearly brought Clarkson back within one.

Even though the outlet passes weren't great, we really didn't turn the puck over that many times in our own end. By my count, there were only 8 turnovers where the puck stayed in our end, and a couple resulted in Michigan immediately regaining possesion. 2 by Vaughan on the same sequence (one minor, one less so), two by Mitera (both minor, and he was hauled down on one of them), and one each by Llewellyn, Kolarik, Naurato, and Langlais. By my recollection, none of those turnovers resulted in much of anything.

Langlais has really improved defensively. Early in the year, he had a few bad turnovers. Lately, I haven't noticed it at all. He's been solid as a rock back there. He's cooled off offensively, but he's been great in his own end. He's even seeing quite a bit of time on the PK and doing a nice job.

The penalty kill was really great all weekend. Rust, Miller, Kolarik, the defense...they all did a great job. And the best penalty killer has to be your goalie, and Sauer was up to the task, especially at the end of the Clarkson game. Holy Hasek those were some stops.

I should also point out that I don't think the officiating was nearly as bad as I thought it was the first time I watched the game. Most of the ones we got replays for were legit calls. A couple of bad missed calls, but overall a pretty well-officiated game, despite my earlier comments.

Next up, I'll start looking ahead to next week by reviewing Michigan's 3-2 win over Notre Dame at Yost earlier in the year.

Other Stuff:
Justin Abdelkader left MSU to turn pro. He played for the Red Wings tonight and actually looked pretty good. He took a penalty (shocker) but apart from that he played well. Some nice hits and a few great scoring chances.

The same poster at the Red Cedar Message Board who broke the news of Abdelkader's defection (as well as Bryan Lerg signing with Edmonton) reported that Ratchuk is turning pro. I don't think that's been confirmed yet, but it sounds pretty reliable. I'd be shocked if Kennedy doesn't leave as well.

Varsity Blue posted the start of what will be an 8 part series about the history of Yost. This one just sets it up, but I'm really looking forward to seeing what Tim has to say.

The Wings clinched the President's Trophy for the 4th time in six seasons. Great, can we start the playoffs now? Please? By the way, I absolutely love hearing that our first two games will coincide with the NCAA Hockey semifinal and championship game. That happened when I was in Buffalo as well. Lost to Minnesota, Wings lost in like triple OT to the Ducks on their way toward getting swept. Good times.


Tim said...

FYI, the Yost thing is only going to be 5 posts now.

Anonymous said...

M definitely played their B game in ALB (i was there). the refs in the NU game were really good, imo. VS Clarkson, they were not good, but it certainly could have been worse. the thing that drove me nuts was that the linesman called 2 penalties (in the same period i think). both seemed like they were no-calls to the ref, since he was in front of both plays and the linesman was 50 ft away as you said. i don't remember linesman making that type of call in front of the ref before. usually they call penalties behind the play if the ref didn't see it.