Sauer got the nod and we're no closer to finding out if we can't play in front of him or if we can't play on Friday. One thing's for sure, this team has big-time problems on Friday nights.
That's 10 goals in 6 2/3 games we've scored for Billy Sauer. He's now surpassed last year's loss total, with 5 in just seven starts. But it's hard to blame him. He was pretty good tonight. The first goal was horrid, but he made something like 26 stops and a good number of them were big. He was a little shaky in there--he looked behind him on at least a half dozen of his stops--but again, the supporting cast let him down.
Side note: I'm still watching the NHL Network. Matt Hunwick has a goal and three assists and is +5 in his last three games. Really nice work out of Huddy. I'm happy to be wrong about him. I never thought he'd crack the league, and here he is playing for one of the hottest teams in the NHL and doing really well. Porter and Hilbert also had goals tonight. Nice to see the lack of offense hasn't carried over to our NHL players.
Back to this abortion.
Things actually started out really well. The RedHawks were whistled for a penalty something like 12 seconds into the game and Michigan had 5 great scoring chances on that power play. Reichard make four stops in a row, point blank, including one where he just robbed Brian Lebler with the glove. They finally showed a replay after the first period and it was about as good of a glove save as you'll ever see.
Unfortunately that was about it for Michigan's offense. After taking 8 shots at the net in the first three minutes, the Wolverines had just 12 the rest of the game, and aside from a goal that was waived off (terrible call, IMO) with 25 seconds left I don't think we had a great scoring chance.
Call us Stevie Weeks, because we shot our load offensively very early on.
Michigan looked to be in the weeds in the first period, facing a long Miami 5 on 3, but there was some great work out of Wohlberg, Rust and Langlais and they were able to kill it off. The Wolverines were outshot 13-2 in the last 17 minutes of that period, but we went to the intermission knotted up at 0.
The second period was pretty boring outside of some big hits by the Miami defenders. There were no great scoring chances, and I realize that Miami had a goal in the period. Miele took the puck behind the net, Sauer slid to his right, Miele brought it back to the left side of the cage and put it in with no problem. Horrible goal to give up. He should've just knocked the net off like Reichard did earlier in the game when he was beat on a would-be wrap-around.
Roeder was absolutely demolishing Wolverines throughout the night. He was really impressive.
The highlight of the period was Louie Caporusso busting his ass on a back-check to break up a 2 on 1. The pass got through and Vaive would've been in all alone but Caporusso broke up the play.
The teams combined for 8 shots in the second period. I couldn't name a single one of ours. I have no idea how ONN (more on them later) had four scoring chances for us in the second. We didn't come near their net.
Miele ended any hope of a comeback (that's how bad we've been on Fridays...two goals is an insurmountable lead) a couple minutes into the third. We didn't get a great replay but it looked like he just got a tip on the shot.
Honestly, at this point I think Chris Osgood could finally give up fewer than 3 goals if he faced us on a Friday.
Scooter Vaughan wins the Not-Smart-But-Strangely-Effective Play of the Night award for selling out to hit a man when Miami had a 3 on 1. He got a piece of the Miami player but they were going to have a 3 on 0. He got just enough of the RedHawk that the puck skittered away from him and it took a few strides before it was corraled. They were in too deep to do anything but pass, so it was a pretty easy read.
Honest to God, I don't think we had possession within 40 feet of the net in the first 11 minutes of that period.
I guess Sauer made a brilliant stop to keep it 2-0. We were getting a shot of Scooter Vaughan in the corner at the time, so I'm not sure.
From 3 minutes into the game until there were 3 minutes remaining in the game, Michigan had 10 shots on goal.
The Wolverines appeared to crack Reichard with 25 seconds remaining, but the goal was waived off due to Chad Langlais being pushed into the crease. Not that it mattered, but that was a pretty weak call. It was actually a nice play too. Turnbull fed Caporusso cutting down the right wing. He put a shot on net and Palushaj buried the rebound.
I amused myself through this debacle by compiling a list of the reasons that this broadcast (it was ONN's feed that the NHL Network was showing) was awful:
1) There were more pronounciations of Brandon Burlon's name than Michigan had quality scoring chances. Here's the list:
We also had Sarnik, Langlay, and Pah-tahr-in out there.
2) The giant ONN graphic in the upper left hand corner actually covered the net for a good portion of the second period. Not that we were going to miss a Michigan goal or anything.
3) Good portions of the first period had the puck off camera.
4) When Naurato got 2 and 10 with three minutes left in the game, the announcers had a long discussion about how they didn't have any idea why he left. He's not Randy Moss, guys. They also commented on an interference penalty, "Quality hit, clean hit, the guy just didn't have the puck."
That said, video coverage is better than no video coverage and I love the NHL Network for showing college games.
Most of the Michigan fans in the crowd were in standing room once again. I really hope Michigan jacks Miami on tickets for our series later this year. They screwed us on tickets last year too.
There's a reason I'm not the coach, but I'd seriously think about reuniting that Hagelin-Rust-Palushaj top line. Hagelin and Rust have been next to invisible offensively since they broke that pairing up. Hagelin has 2 points in his last six and Rust has one point in his last 8. Holy buckets, Rust was even 2/15 on draws tonight. Yes the Caporusso/Palushaj pairing has been great, but Louie had his share of goals even before they were united.
In addition to Rust and Hagelin, someone really needs to wake up Turnbull, Winnett, and Czarnik offensively. Mitera, Kampfer (and Moffie?) can't get here soon enough. We gotta get Summers back up front. We need another quality forward in the worse way.
This game could be summed up by one play. I believe Michigan was on the power play. Two Wolverines were fighting with Justin Mercier in the middle of the ice out by the blueline. Mercier willed that puck out of the zone and in the process showed more heart than the entire Michigan team played with tonight. What a weak effort outside of the first three minutes. This reminded me so much of that game against MSU a couple years ago in the GLI Championship. They just didn't bring it, and it's alarming to see a lack of anything resembling positive play in such a big game.
I have to give Miami a lot of credit. That defensive effort was incredible. They just didn't let the Wolverines anywhere near the net outside of the first few minutes and Reichard made a few truly great saves in the early going. If he doesn't rob Lebler, this could be a completely different game. If Michigan pops one in in the first two minutes, memories of last year come flying back. But he stoned him and that was pretty much that.
I don't think you can call a game a must-win this early in the season, but a loss tomorrow night would drop us 9 points behind the RedHawks. That's a big deficit. And we currently sit 2 points out of 10th place in the jammed up CCHA. It'd be nice to have something positive before we head out to take on the #1 team in the country next (OMG) Friday.
The one positive to take from tonight was that our penalty kill was pretty great. Miami has the #2 power play in the country and Michigan shut them down for the most part. The 1:49 5 on 3 was a great kill. So maybe the PK has turned it around....that's something at least.
And as long as I'm bitching, here's a non-sports one for you. ABC, die in a fire. Canceling Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and Dirty Sexy Money in the same day (and being so kind as to do it after they've filmed their now-final episodes, so I'm sure we'll get a ton of closure) is right up there with jerking around Traveler, dumping Boston Legal when it's still one of the funniest shows on TV, and not allowing The Nine to try a timeslot that wasn't the death-slot after Lost. I guess my DVR just got a whole lot less cluttered. I don't know why I even bother with TV anymore. Every time I actually care about the long-term plot of a show, it gets yanked and I get no answers. I know they've got to worry about ratings and it's all about making money, but man, what a bummer. Just another frustrating thing to happen today....