After a disappointing weekend against the Miami RedHawks, the Wolverines are back on the ice this weekend for a strangely critical early-season series against the Spartans. The subplot is, of course, the return of Corey Tropp to Yost Ice Arena for the first time since his attack on Steve Kampfer last year.
Friday Night's game will air on Fox Sports Detroit. Saturday's game can be seen on Comcast 900.
Here are 10 things to know....
1) There's going to be a lot of attention on alternate captain Tropp (really? They gave the kid a letter when he got kicked off the team last year?) this weekend for a lot of reasons. The most surprising? He's the nation's leader in goals (8) and points (15). Put that in perspective: His stats through ten games would have ranked him 3rd in goals and 3rd in points on last year's FYS team.
2) The Spartans come in with a record of 7-2-1 (4-1-1-0 in the CCHA). More perspective: They won 10 games last season. Opponent watch: They went 3-1 against Clarkson and Maine, but then split with Miami, swept Western, and had a win and a shootout loss against Nebraska-Omaha.
3) Aside from Tropp, freshman Derek Grant has gotten his career off to a good start, with 5-7--12 in ten games. He was named NCAA Rookie of the Month for October. Jeff Petry is rebounding from a pretty awful sophomore year with 1-9--10 thusfar from back on the blueline.
4) Here's an embarrassing stat: In all last season, FYS had 5 players that scored 4 or more goals. They've already got three this year.
5) Continuing the theme of "much improved", they had 20 power play goals a year ago. They've already scored 15 this season, including 5 by Tropp and 4 by Grant. Only Colorado College and Minnesota-Duluth have scored more times on the power play this season. Their power play ranks ninth in the country at 25.4%. (Michigan's is 36th in the country at 15.2%)
6) Their penalty kill hasn't been as good. While they've scored 15 on the power play, they've given up 13. They rank 34th in the country with an 80.3% penalty kill. (Michigan has fared well on the PK thusfar, ranking 6th in the country at 89.8%.) 13 of the 23 goals they've allowed have come when the other team was a man up.
7) Drew Palmisano has performed well after taking the reigns from Jeff Lerg. He's 5-1-1 on the season with a 1.97/.931. He has given up 3+ goals in three of his seven starts, however. Senior Bobby Jarosz has played three times, going 2-1-0 with the lone loss to Miami.
8) Eight Spartans have points against Michigan in their career, but Dustin Gazley is the only player with multiple goals (he has three). Nick Sucharski is the career points leader against the Wolverines. He has a 1-5--6 line in 15 games. Petry and Andrew Rowe have 5 points in 9 and 8 games, respectively. FYS lists Palmisano as 0-1-1 against Michigan. I'm not sure how that's possible since he's only a sophomore and Michigan won all five games last year in regulation. Regardless, he has a 5.26 goals against and an .893 in just over a full game's worth of action.
The Spartan killer has been Chris Summers. He has 5-8--13 in 15 games. Caporusso has 8 points in seven games. Wohlberg has 7 points in 5. Burlon, Czarnik, Rust, Winnett, Hagelin, and Pateryn have also had success piling up the points against FYS. Bryan Hogan is 5-0-0 with a 2.00 goals against and a .910 save percentage in the series.
9) Famous dads: Freshman Dean Chelios is the son of Chris. Jeff Petry is the son of former Tigers' pitcher Dan. Sophomore Trevor Nill is the son of Jim Nill, an assistant GM with the Red Wings.
10) The top two lines have been static all year for FYS. Sucharski centers Grant and Tropp. They've combined for 15-18--33 and a +5 rating. Rowe-Leveille-Gazley is the other line. They have a 9-9--18 line and a +12 rating. Krug/Petry (12 points, +6) and Crandell/Shelgren (5 points, +10) are the top two defense pairings. They've played together in every game this year.
11) I'm not done yet, so we'll do this up Big Ten style. Michigan has won six straight in the season, the longest streak for us since 1962.
Mac Bennett has swine flu, but he and Derek DeBlois are still really happy about beating Canada West to win the World Junior A Challenge.