You know what I loved about last night's game--beside the whole beating the ever loving piss out of MSU thing? I loved the fact that, for the first time in recent memory against the Spartans, Michigan came out and laid the wood to them. They were the aggressors. They were the ones making life hell on Spartan puck-carriers. Summers, Scooter, Digger, Wohlberg, Pateryn, Turnbull...they were all looking to hit the Spartans and make it hurt. Through two periods, shots were listed as 28-12 in Michigan's favor. Aside from general ineptitude on MSU's part, that was the biggest reason Michigan dominated the game last night.
The first half of the game was really entertaining from a hockey standpoint. The second half was really entertaining from a "**** MSU" standpoint. Through 25-30 minutes, that was about as good of a Michigan/MSU game as I've seen since the 5-4 OT game at the Joe a few years back. It was hard-hitting, back-and-forth, lots of good scoring chances, two shorties, and scrums after nearly ever whistle. They brought some nasty back into the rivalry, and I like that.
The only downer of the night was that our power play kind of sucked. Michigan got a 5 minute power play right out of the gate when Brandon Gentile was tossed for smoking Caporusso from behind. Aside from one chance for Summers, Michigan didn't get anything going the entire time. To make matters worse, a linesman got in Llewellyn's way leading to a 2 on 1 for the Spartans, which they capitalized on to take a 1-0 lead.
With Palushaj in the box for goalie interference (we'll get to that in a little bit), Summers lifted Schepke's stick and Hagelin was able to knock the puck away. Matt Rust corralled it and fed Summers in front of the net for a SHG of our own. That was a case of three great penalty killers getting rewarded for the effort.
Shortly thereafter, Summers was off to the races again. At the last second he tried to feed Wohlberg in front. Wohlberg got the shot off, but the pass was in his skates and he couldn't get that much on it. Summers just took off though. He was jumping up into the play quite a bit last night. It was really nice to see. As fast as he is, I feel like he should have the green light to go every now and then. He can get back on D.
Some great work by Palushaj and Caporusso led to the eventual game-winning goal. Palushaj did the dirty work behind the net and knocked the puck free. Caporusso dug it out and made a sweet little spin move to control the puck. He fired a pass to Wohlberg who tapped it into a wide open net.
The third goal was the result of the linesman returning the favor MSU got on their first goal as well as some dominant play by the Wolverines in the offensive zone. An MSU clearing attempt got into the linesman's skates and Michigan held it in. Play continued in the MSU zone for a full minute--this wasn't a power play, folks--and Michigan had at least 3 great scoring chances, including a post by Wohlberg, before Caporusso found Palushaj open for another tap in. The puck nearly came out with 8:45 remaining in the period, the goal was scored at 7:41. Great work by Palushaj, Caporusso, Wohlberg, Burlon, and Scooter. MSU had a couple chances to clear, but the D kept it in and the forwards had an incredible shift.
Hogan wasn't overly busy last night, but he did make two huge stops when it was 3-1. He made a nice save on Tropp and then robbed Crowder on the follow up. It kept MSU from gaining back any momentum. He also made a nice save on Turek as time expired in an MSU power play.
Lebler...what the hell was he thinking? He got tossed for a blatant hit from behind. The puck was 10 feet away at the time and he smoked the MSU player. Everyone knew it was going to be five, and, I honestly think he was kind of lucky he didn't get DQ'ed for that one. Jack Johnson would've gotten a 5-game suspension. He has to be smarter than that. Back to back games he's put us on a 5 minute penalty kill when the outcome was still in doubt. I know he was probably just trying to keep up with the physical trend of the game, but there was plenty of time to pull up on that one.
Thankfully, MSU's 5 minute power play went about as well as ours did in the early going. I don't think they really came near our net. They only registered one shot on goal on that power play. Fardig, in particular, did some great work toward the end of that PK.
I can't remember the exact play--pretty sure it was another occasion where he got in on the forecheck and stole the puck--but I wrote in my notes that "it's a crime against humanity if Carl Hagelin doesn't win Best Defensive Forward in the CCHA this year". He really is unbelievable.
We were awarded a 5 on 3 after a trip and a hit from behind that was called cross-checking (shouldn't have been five, so it didn't really matter what it got called). Michigan came out with their "Penalty Kill" power play unit and once the top line got out there, Hagelin was called for a crease violation even though he never touched the goalie and wasn't in the crease. That killed all the momentum and Michigan never really got control again on that man advantage.
Wohlberg buried another one after Winnett made a nice little deke to split two defenders. He slid it back to Summers who ripped one wide of the net. The puck took a nice bounce off the end boards and came out to Wohlberg on the other side of the net for yet another tap-in. Whether Summers meant to miss the net or not, Lidstrom couldn't have done that any better.
Just over a minute later, the rout was on. Pateryn sent a nice slap-pass to Naurato, who made no mistake. Lerg got hung out to dry an awful lot in this one. Hard to say any of these were really his fault. That got Mini-Me the hook and Palmisano came in.
Things didn't go any better for him. Brandon Burlon decided now would be a good time to get his first goal and absolutely undressed Justin Johnston and beat Palmisano over the glove. He was really excited about that one and rightfully so.
Scary moment when Caporusso limped off the ice and the announcers said it was a kneeing penalty coming to MSU. I was worried for a second until the replay showed it was Palushaj who got kneed. The impact spun him around and his foot went straight between Louie's legs. That hurt to watch.
Other stuff from the game:
-Blue Wall alert (as I roll my eyes)! At the start of the game, the comment was uttered that "The only difference between Jeff Lerg and Roberto Luongo is about 8 million dollars a year."
-Student section: The wave really doesn't have a place in hockey. Please stop. I'm begging on that one.
-Let's talk for a minute about the officiating. I take back what a said about last week's game at Wisconsin. Aaron and McInchak (and the linesmen) put on a clinic of how not to officiate a hockey game. I've never seen four guys get in the way of more pucks. Two goals were caused by the linesmen getting in the way. Aaron got in the way of a pass behind the net from D to D and it nearly led to an MSU scoring chance, except McInchak was out at center ice and whistled the play dead for absolutely no reason (the announcers thought the net came off, but no one ever touched it). He also got in the way of an MSU dump in on the power play, leading to an easy clear.
We saw Palushaj get hauled down, Wohlberg get round-housed in the ensuing scrum, and the penalties end up even (even though the original call was going against MSU). Amazingly, Tropp was called for holding on that one. And Wohlberg got 4 for slashing. And the original trip either wasn't called or they sent the guy off for "grasping the facemask"....hmm.
Crowder took a dip**** slash at one of our guys after the play, which was getting called. A scrum ensued, and only Llewellyn was given a roughing penalty, even though you know it would've been evened up had the original penalty not been called.
Palushaj got called for back-to-back goalie interference penalties, one of which was cheap, but slightly legit. On the other, he got drilled from behind into Lerg. Keeping with the trend, Lebler pushed a defenseman into the shrimp and he got called for goalie interference. Seems fair.
Bob Z got a ten minute misconduct for the crime of getting tackled, which was of course missed. Then there was that wonderful crease-violation-that-wasn't. The only thing those jokers got right the entire game was the five minute majors to Gentile and Lebler. It was an exhibition in incompetence from start to finish. To quote Lloyd Carr, "This is what happens when you hire stupid people." Pio, you need to come back. The fact that those two can get assigned to a Michigan/MSU game speaks to the sorry state of officiating in this league.
I'm not sure if my DVD recorder will allow me to put up video clips (it only takes DVD+Rs, my computer hates those) but if I can pull it off, I might have to make a montage. It was really special.
-David Wohlberg might be the best player on our team at the moment. He had open nets on both of his goals, but he continues to produce at an unexpected level, while being a great penalty killer and a very good faceoff man (even though he's not taking draws on the top line). It's amazing what confidence can do. 2 goals and 2 posts last night.
-Summers was amazing. He really had the after-burners going, scored a goal by jumping into the play, had a couple other nice chances, set the tone with a huge hit on a Spartan in the early going, and was as active as I've ever seen him from the defensive position. Usually he's just solid as a rock back there but you don't notice him all that much. He was all over the ice last night.
Stuff from the stats:
-With the score 3-1 and MSU on the power play for over two minutes to start the third, Michigan outshot the Spartans 13-3 in the third period and scored 3 goals to turn the game into a blowout.
-Our new top line combined for 3 goals, 5 assists, and a +8 rating. Caporusso had a play-maker.
-Palushaj has 16 assists in 17 games.
-Caporusso had 4 assists for the season entering the game and had 3 last night.
-MSU is now winless in 10. They've scored 13 goals in those games.
-Hogan has gotten 43 goals of support. 10 for Sauer.
According to The Wolverine, Red has indicated that Hogan will get the start tonight. I would imagine that we'll see Lerg again for the Spartans. He was hung out on pretty much all the goals and I've got to believe one of the reasons he was given the hook is that we'll be seeing him again tonight.
The Teddy Bear Toss was a rousing success last night, with a record number of bears being collected for donation to Mott's Children's Hospital. Nice job everyone!
The Hoover Street Rag liveblogged the game.