The penalty kill is the only phase of the game that's solid. Probably because they're getting so much practice.
I've only seen 5 periods of this season so far (this game and 2 periods against Niagara), and I'm yet to be impressed. The goaltending has been sub-par, the defense has been shockingly careless with the puck, the power play sucks per usual, and we don't do anything on offense.
I'm going to talk about certain guys, but I'm certainly not singling them out. I don't think there's a single player on the team would can say that they played a good-to-great game tonight. But just a few comments:
-We have to play smarter hockey. I mean, right out of the gate, Llewellyn drills a guy who never touched the puck. You're playing a team with the best power play in the conference. You can't be taking penalties left and right. Llewellyn took two, neither of which were necessary (though the second one was weak). Sparks hauled a guy down in center ice, Summers had a cheapie but he still slashed the guy for no reason, Caporusso got too close to the goalie and took him down....just things you can't be doing. Even though the penalty kill was fantastic tonight--the only reason this was even a game--you're still costing yourself time where you could go try to get a goal. I thought most of the calls against us were legit.
-We have to get better goaltending. Again, I haven't seen very much hockey this year, but the impression I'm getting from reading/listening/history is that Hogan is good for at least one soft goal every game. It's even worse when it's a deflating goal. It's one thing to give up a bad goal when you're up 3-0. It's another entirely when the crowd is into it and it's still a 0-0 game. Just like against Air Force last year--a weak goal just kills the momentum. Tonight, he had the puck behind the net, went to move it to Llewellyn, and he fired the pass in by Llewellyn's feet. Tristin got a stick on it, and I don't actually know who would be "at fault", but I know if I was the defenseman, I would've been expecting it closer to the boards. Though no one ever accused me of knowing anything. I know that I'm losing confidence in our goaltending even though Hogan did make some really huge stops to keep us in the game. I'm not at all convinced that he won't get Billy Sauered next season once Campbell is here.
-I don't have a problem with the third goal counting. I know it's probably viewed as "controversial", but assuming it went in, I'm fine with it. Fox's feed never showed the puck in the net, but we never saw the overhead cam and that would've told the tale. I know their guy hit Hogan before the puck went in the net, but our guy created that contact by tripping him. There's no way Leveille could have stopped himself. Assuming that went in before the net was off, I'm fine with it. One interesting note: Yost now has the technology to allow the refs to see all available camera angles in the replay booth. From what I understand, it's the only arena in the CCHA that has that capability. To Michigan, bravo! And to the CCHA, bravo for allowing it. There was talk last year that it would be "unfair" for some arenas to be more equipped than others, and I never understood that. Michigan doesn't have an advantage by having extra video in their replay booth. It's just as likely to hurt us as help us. But it means at our home games, there's a better chance that the calls will be the right ones. And there's nothing wrong with that.
-What the hell is our power play doing? Yet again, it's worth pointing out I haven't seen much hockey this year, but early in the game we threw out Sparks and Winnett on the second unit. Chris Brown was running the point on the first unit. He's one of our biggest players. Shouldn't he be crashing the net? It doesn't seem like we have anyone on the team that can take a one-timer, so we just look for the perfect pass and it's never there. Here's a question: Why doesn't anyone ever screen the goalie in college? I was thinking about this during the game: When was the last time you saw anyone go to the front of the net and park himself there? Michigan game or not. I honestly can't remember the last time I saw it and there's no good reason why. I was thinking about crease violations, but they don't let you go in the crease (or within 2 feet of the crease if you're Tomas Holmstrom and/or playing the Anaheim Ducks) in the pros either. They don't blow the play dead, but they don't count the goal. I find it very strange.
-Fox Sports, I love you for showing the game, but did we really need two "Drew Palmisano is from Ann Arbor" features? 1 in each intermission? Thankfully the feed cut out for the second one and I got commercials instead.
-I still love watching Hagelin and Rust.
-Paging Louie Caporusso! Honestly, if it weren't for his penalty, I'm not sure I would've known that he played tonight. I'm sure he'd be the first to tell you that one goal and 11 shots in 9 games is not good enough. He's got plenty of company though. Wohlberg has one goal, Czarnik didn't do much of anything tonight (no shots)....
-You can't let Corey Tropp score that goal. I don't care that it was an amazing shot. I don't care that it was a nice toe-drag. You can't let that guy score against you in that arena. It's like letting Brett Favre walk into Lambeau and throttle you. You can't let it happen.
-I'm not panicking just yet. We're still only a quarter of the way through the season. North Dakota seemingly pulls this every season, where they have a rough first half and go
-I'm not complaining about the officiating, because I think they're strangely competent tonight (minus Sparks getting hauled down in the slot when he was going to have a great scoring chance) but does anyone else think it's strange that we've played Miami and FYS in the last two weeks and we've had Brian Hill, Keith Sergott, Barry Pochmara, and Dan Brown? I'm not asking for Shegos or Hall or Aaron or McInchak by any stretch of the imagination, but those are the guys we usually see. It just seems strange to have a Michigan/FYS game without Shegos or Hall pissing me off.
-Honest to God, I think we had 1 scoring chance tonight and I'm fully aware we scored twice.
-Lucas Lessio: Are you sure you're not interested in accelerating to....ohhh....say.....2009?
That's all I've got. Time to get some sleep and wake up to go to the Michigan/Wisconsin game tomorrow. I'm not holding my breath that it's going to end well, but never underestimate the ability of the Wisconsin Badgers to lose to bad Michigan teams. Either way, it's the first sporting event I'm going to since Valentine's Day weekend. That's gotta be a new record for me....
Big game tomorrow at Munn. Games in hand or not, three-point wins or not, dropping 13 points back in the standings this early in the season is not the hole you want to dig for yourself.