Saturday, January 31, 2009
Michigan is halfway toward giving themselves a chance in the CCHA race. Behind stellar goaltending from Bryan Hogan and a couple of nice goals by our seniors, Michigan was able to end Notre Dame's 20 game unbeaten streak last night.
Hogan was at his best out of the gate when Notre Dame had several scoring chance before finally Turnbull gave the Wolverines the lead on a goal that was a thing of beauty. He broke in down the right wing, cut toward the net, got Pearce down, and lifted a gorgeous backhander up under the bar, just inside the goalpost.
Miller put the Wolverines up 2-0 on a faceoff just seconds into the second period. Neither player was able to get a stick on the puck when it was dropped and it kind of sat between the skates of the Irish player. Miller dug it out and fired one in before Pearce could react.
The Irish cut it back to one when a pass got through David Wohlberg to Kyle Lawson. He was able to stickhandle through the defense and slid a pass over to Guentzel for a tap-in.
Pearce made a couple of huge plays later in the game when he poke-checked Turnbull, who brought the puck out of the corner all alone and then poke-checked Czarnik who was in on a breakaway.
The Irish had five power plays in the game, but Hogan kept all seven shots out of the net.
-Michigan had some problems in their own end. They gave the puck away an awful lot. Even Summers had a couple of uncharacteristic giveaways. Gotta be better in our own end tonight.
-I had the biggest WTF? moment that I've had in a long time when CBS College Sports put up a graphic showing Billy Sauer as the starting goalie and the announcers went with it. I had a text message to my buddy all typed out which said, "I just started watching on the DVR. Why the hell is Sauer play?" before the announcers corrected themselves. They said he was slated to start before Michigan pulled a late change. I don't think I buy that one, though maybe it was accurate, I dunno. Later, they put up a graphic showing Matt Rush as one of the keys to the game. Not a good night for the graphics department.
-Our PK owns.
-This win pulls Michigan within 6 points of the Irish. Even with another win tonight we'd still be facing an uphill battle, but it would be nice to put a little more pressure on Notre Dame. And it would be nice to have the Irish be 0-4 against the other top teams in the conference. We now sit in fourth place, two back of Alaska (still with four games in hand, so I'm not worried about catching them). We pulled two points ahead of OSU and Omaha.
-Llewellyn had a beautiful hipcheck early in the game. I think it was against Condra, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Win tonight at Yost, and things get reallllllly interesting.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
2) If you look at their schedule though, they really haven't played too many great teams. They lost to Denver and got swept by Miami. They beat BC, which was a nice win, but here are the CCHA teams they've played during this streak: LSSU four times, BGSU four times, Western twice, Ferris twice, Alaska twice (in South Bend). Duluth, Union, and Providence were their other games. Pretty much the opposite of the Pittsburgh Steelers' schedule this year. Need more proof? They've played the 24th rated schedule in the country according to the current RPI rankings. Michigan is #8. Only Ohio State, Cornell, and Princeton have played worse schedules amongst the teams in the top 15 in RPI.
3) The key to their success? They really don't give up that many goals. They've given up more than three just one time the entire season, and that was in the season opener (a 5-2 loss at Denver). They've only given up 3 goals on five occasions. They've held an opponent to 0 or 1 goals on fourteen occasions.
4) Their leading goal scorer is the surprising Christan Hanson, who has 14-12--26 in 25 games. He had just 20 goals and 33 points in the three seasons prior to this one. Calle Ridderwall, the sophomore who put the dagger in the hearts of Michigan fans in overtime last year, has 10 goals, eight of which have come with the man advantage (He's 5th in the country in PPGs). Erik Condra and Kevin De-De-Deeth have cracked the twenty point mark as well. Ryan Thoia-Thang (when did I turn into Chris Berman?) has been a little quiet. He has just 8-6--14 after going for 41 and 32 points the last two seasons. Nine guys have 5+ goals.
5) Amongst their defensemen, Brian Blatchford, Ian Cole, and Kyle Lawson have combined for 5 goals and 38 assists. Teddy Ruth doesn't provide much in the way of offense, but he's rock solid back there. And in net it's been Jordan Pearce for the most part. He's 18-3-3 with a 1.56 goals against and a very impressive .936 save percentage. He's 5th nationally in goals against and 7th in save percentage.
6) They're 12th nationally in offense (3.44) and 3rd defensively (1.56 goals per game). They're #2 in scoring margin, behind Air Force, who doesn't actually count.
7) They're a pretty disciplined team as well, 36th in most penalty minutes at just 15.4 a night (4.4 fewer than Michigan). And the special teams? They're pretty darn good too. #4 in PP at 21.8%. Their 34 goals with the man advantage trails only North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth. They're sixth on the PK, killing off 89.7% of their opponents' power plays. They've also scored six shorthanded goals on the season. Only Air Force, Army, RIT, and BGSU have more (Who would've bet on those four?).
8) Michigan leads the all-time series 66-43-5, but Notre Dame (as everyone remembers) won the most recent meeting, beating Michigan 5-4 in overtime in the national semifinals. We're just a tick over .500 in South Bend, and are 37-20-3 at Yost.
9) Travis Turnbull actually leads all Wolverines in career points against ND with a 3-5--8 line in 8 games against the Fighting Irish. Aaron Palushaj has 5 points in 3 games (all assists). Matt Rust had 3 goals and four points against ND last year. Hagelin is also a point per game player against them. In net, Billy Sauer is 3-3-0 with a 3.19/.894, and I just threw up in my mouth a little. Bryan Hogan has a 2.62/.900 in the 2+ periods he's played against them.
10) Erik Condra has done really well against Michigan in his career, with a 3-6--9 line in seven games. Regan, Deeth, Blatchford, and Thang all have 5+ points against the Wolverines. And Ridderwall had 3 points in 3 games last year. Pearce is just 1-2-0 with a 3.15/.890 against us.
Tomorrow's game will air on CBS College Sports at 8:05 Eastern. Saturday's game is on FSN Detroit at 7:35. So, woo hoo, I actually get to watch on a TV!
A couple other quick things:
-The preliminary hearings in the Mike Milano trial started today. Steve Kampfer testified for over an hour. That kid has had an eventful week. While the testimony doesn't paint either kid in a very good light, I have to say that I've never understood the "He's been attacked twice this year. Clearly he needs to keep his mouth shut" type comments that I've heard several times (not just from Sparties) since the incident took place. I really don't believe that what Conboy and Tropp did had anything to do with Kampfer or his personality (which I don't know anything about). He drilled Tropp, they were getting beat yet again by Michigan, and they both flipped out. I'd buy into it more if he had gotten powerbombed at a bar twice in a year. But on the scorecard you've got one fight outside a bar and one on-ice incident because a couple of knuckleheads snapped.
-Corey Tropp gave an interview to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader about his take on the incident last weekend. Here's what he says he remembers about the slash:
CT: Well I was skating through center-ice ... I thought I got kneed, but you know, people have been saying it was a clean hit. I guess I just wasn’t too happy with the hit. (Andrew) Conboy came up and kind of suckered him from the side, and I really didn’t realize Conboy was going to sucker him.
I was going go over and give him a little push myself. It was kind of one of those things where I didn’t even realize he was injured on the ice when I did it. After that I felt pretty bad. I still feel pretty bad about the whole situation.
There's some interesting stuff in that interview. I've said my piece. No need to comment further, but the response above kind of deserve a "Uhhhhhh...."
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Comley has said that if Tropp choses to remain in school, they'll discuss his status in the spring.
So bare minimum, the fallout from this incident has been what I was hoping for. Conboy gone, Tropp suspended for the year. I waffled many times about whose actions were worse, and I suppose the fact that it was that tough of a decision for me means that I should want both of them to be gone. Maybe that's the eventual outcome. I mean, how do you pick between Bertuzzi and McSorley?
Things might get worse for the duo from Moo U. The University of Michigan police are investigating Conboy's roundhouse and the Tropp Chop to determine if further investigation is needed in the matter, which could ultimately result in criminal charges.
As I said when the incident occurred, I've never made up my mind as to how I feel about criminal charges being filed as a result of sporting events. If you do have a strong feeling one way or the other and would like to voice said opinion, a reader asked me to pass along the email address of the Washtenaw County prosecutor: prosecutormackie@ewashtenaw.
Red Berenson was posed a question about where the line is between sports and criminal activity and I think he has a pretty good perspective on it. There's also a major foot-in-the-mouth moment from the reporter.
It'll be interesting to see where this all goes, but I think for the most part it's time to move on unless another major development happens. At least one of the two goons is gone and he ain't coming back. Unless Steve Kampfer ends up in the ECHL, he'll probably never face Conboy again.
I would imagine that the students will get a nice lecture at some point about the language used, but you'll still never convince me that that chant wasn't 100% warranted. MGoBlog and Jizzard from The Fort put it better than I possibly could:
But the FYS cheer on Saturday was the right emotion at the right time, A ringing loud expression of contempt and disgust was the appropriate reaction. Sometimes "fuck you" is the only appropriate sentiment.
I don't know if I've ever heard a chant from a student section so adequately reflect the feelings of every student and hardcore Michigan hockey fan. It was direct, it was concise, there was none of the singsong foolishness of a "f*** the Irish" chant. It just said exactly what everybody who saw the incident was feeling. It is what I thought when I heard what had happened following the game on Saturday night, and it reflected how I felt on Sunday when I saw some Sparty Fan Reaction, and again when I read their crap on Monday. It wasn't "f*** the Spartans" in cartoon voices, it was a loud, proud, angry, defiant "F88K YOU STATE." It was perfect. I'm proud of our students for expressing themselves that way, rather than making the Spartan bench a garbage pit or rushing the ice or overturning the Spartan bus - the likely outcomes in East Lansing and Columbus. Free speech and expression over violence, in the classic Michigan Student tradition. Bravo, Michigan students.
That was beautiful.
One last piece of fallout from the attack could come in the area of recruiting. Check out this comment on one of my posts:
My son and i were at this game in Ann Arbor (as a recruiting trip). He's being looked at my both Michigan, Michigan State and a few others. I can't tell you if he'll be playing at Michigan or not, but i do promise you he won't be playing for Michigan State. My wife, my son, and I all sat watching this unfold on the ice across from us and couldn't believe what we were seeing. I was almost surreal. Hockey has enough challenges without incidents like this feeding the anti-hockey sentiment across the nation. I'm just glad Steve Kampfer is going to be OK. Best of luck on the rest of the season.
That probably wasn't the impression the Spartans wanted to make on a potential recruit.
MVictors contacted Dave Shand about the possible legal ramifications. That other dude who used to write a bunch of junk for that paper that likes to publish the transcripts of students without their permission also chimed in. They also updated everyone about the Shand vs. Martin lawsuit.
Monday, January 26, 2009
But I don't think anyone can be unhappy with the punishment, especially considering the fact that Kampfer escaped major injury. I realize that the result doesn't change the action--the recklessness was the same whether they killed him or he got away uninjured--but I'm ok with the punishment FYS imposed. I would only hope that both players are on no-tolerance policies from here on out. On-ice, personal life, in class....take a false step and you're gone.
I do feel that if Kampfer had been seriously injured we would have seen at least one Spartan booted from the team. But I'd much, much rather have a healthy Kampfer than have two fewer Spartans on their hockey roster.
Even though FYS's team is awful, the punishment is severe. Both guys are going to miss 12+ games, and they've got a stigma that will follow them for a long time. (Have you ever looked at Todd Bertuzzi the same way after his hit on Steve Moore? I haven't.) Considering that it doesn't appear Kampfer will miss any action, I think it's pretty reasonable. Though I do still question FYS for having a no-talent knucklehead like Conboy on the team.
There's finally a good-quality video of the incident on Youtube, so if you haven't yet seen what all the fuss is about, here ya go:
As one would expect, the Michigan blogosphere exploded about the incident.
-The Ace of Sports, The Diag and MHNet had hilarious beat-downs of the State News writer who essentially split the blame for the incident between Michigan and MSU. I had a similar reaction to the two of them when I read that story. I'm glad they already did it justice. I especially liked that MHNet pointed things out to yet another recipient of the thin letter that no, the second word of the chant was not "State".
The original article (by the way, check out the hyperlink...evidently they've got a Canadian uploading articles or something?) is worth reading, simply to see the writer getting ripped to shreds in the comments.
This is the best part:
With the game all but over, U-M’s Steve Kampfer took a run at MSU sophomore forward Corey Tropp at center ice.
In an attempt to stick up for his teammate, MSU freshman Andrew Conboy went after Kampfer to try and teach him a lesson.
MGoBlog had a pair of typically awesome pieces. One about the incident itself and a follow-up the next day. (Bonus points for the picture of Tropp between Satan and Jim Tressel.) He makes a really great point that the punishment needed to be severe, considering college hockey doesn't allow players to "police themselves" by fighting.
I do agree that the suspension to the players isn't as severe as it would have been if FYS was a decent hockey team, but these have to rank amongst the longest suspensions in the history of college hockey. I wanted to see one, if not both of them, kicked off the team, but the realistic side of me figured that wouldn't happen. It's nice to know that brutally assaulting someone on the ice is twice as severe as saying "Sloppy seconds" about your ex-girlfriend though. In case you were wondering.
Here was MHNet's original take about the game. I can't remember if I linked to it or not.
A really strong take from Michigan Sports Center.
WCH has the FYS chant figured out.
The Ann Arbor News, who has been all over this story, has an account of how Bruce Kampfer made it past security into the visiting locker room. The elder Kampfer called Red Berenson to apologize for his actions and Michigan announced that security will be beefed up in the future.
The Michigan Daily has an interview with Steve Kampfer. He confirms that the slash hit him in the neck and he mentions that no one from FYS has contacted him to apologize and he doesn't want them to.
Some good news: Mel Pearson was on WTKA today and mentioned that Mark Mitera is doing very well and is "probably a couple weeks away still..." It sounds like we're going to get #17 back before the end of the year, which is amazing. Our defense corps is going to be just ridiculous when he gets back. Scooter Vaughan, who had a very solid freshman season, is a healthy scratch already. Hard to believe that we've got the #9 defense in the country without Mitera, without Kampfer for over half the season, and without Burlon for 8 games or so. If that group is completely healthy for the post-season, we're going to be sitting pretty.
I'm glad to see that FYS took action before the CCHA did (even if it was kind of a joint venture). They sent a message that actions like that won't be tolerated, and even if I think it lacked a little bit of a spine not to boot at least one of them, the punishment was quick, it was severe, and they didn't make excuses for the actions, unlike the State News reporter.
I'm also glad to see that Michigan quickly admitted that the security outside the visiting locker room was lax and has taken steps to remedy the situation. It shouldn't be that easy to get inside a team's locker room. Though had there been adequate security around, Mr. Kampfer still could have gotten to Tropp when the team was headed out to the bus, if he really wanted to. Security would have eliminated the "spur of the moment" reaction to run in there, though, and it's good they're going to step it up. It wasn't a great reaction, but Mr. Kampfer has brass ones...
Finally, I have to comment about the language at Yost, most notably the FYS chant. I might take some heat for this opinion, and that's fine. Maybe it's a generational thing or maybe I just have a very high threshold for what is offensive, but I just don't see what the big deal is. I really don't. It's a nice ideal that college games be a family atmosphere, but when you've got a couple thousand college kids in the same place, there's going to be language that you don't necessarily want your kid to hear. Hell, there's probably language you wouldn't want your kid to hear in the dining halls, let alone at the hockey games.
When I was 11, my parents let my brother and I see My Cousin Vinny. I still remember it to this day. We went to the video store and they told both of us, "We don't agree with the language that they use in this movie. You will not use the words they use. But the movie is funny enough that we think you need to see it." We watched it. We laughed a lot. And it didn't corrupt me from having heard the word "fuck" several dozen times. Be a good parent and it's a non-issue. Either your kid knows the word or they're going to learn the word at some point. Don't stop going to Yost because of the language. If it happens, use it as a teaching tool.
I never agreed with throwing the term "C***-sucker" into the penalty chant. I do think that crosses the line. Maybe that makes me a hypocrite somewhat, I'm not sure. I have my own lines and I think that one crossed it. But I never have seen the problem with the rest of the penalty chant--seriously, you can say the majority of those words on TV--and even if the FYS chant would normally cross my hypothetical line, I do believe that it was completely called-for in this situation. Sometimes booing just doesn't get it done. Call me immature if you want to.
For the record, I realize that stuff like that doesn't paint the university in a great light. Would I appreciate it if they wouldn't chant "Fuck the Irish" unprovoked? Sure. But in general, I view people as overly-sensitive about stuff like that. We can have all the violence in the world on TV. But God-forbid we see a covered up breast during the Super Bowl or someone says the F-word. Maybe you shouldn't have to consider what your kid will hear if you take him to the hockey game. But if he doesn't know those words yet, he's gonna learn them soon enough. Probably from you during a Michigan football game. Chances are, unless he's like 4 he probably uses them already when he's out of your earshot.
Lastly, since I have to run, lost in the melee this weekend was how freaking awesome our new second line is. Palushaj, Rust and Hagelin were amazing this weekend. They've clearly got chemistry, Rust is scoring again, and Caporusso proved yet again that he can be perfectly effective without Palushaj on his wing. Turnbull and Wohlberg are playing great hockey. Two scoring lines (and a fantastic checking line) make for a very scary Michigan team moving forward, especially considering how good our defense and goaltending have been. The third line wasn't great, but things don't always gel overnight. If Czarnik gets going--and he pretty much has to at some point--the third line could be pretty good as well.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
“I have a strained neck right now,” Kampfer said in a phone interview with the Free Press on Sunday. “I had no relapse of what happened earlier. Hopefully, I’ll be back this weekend.”
Seriously? He might play this weekend? That kid is either the toughest SOB in the world or he's seriously got someone looking out for him.
This also should put an end to the debate about where Tropp hit him:
“It’s something that shouldn’t have happened,” Kampfer said. “It just shows the lack of sense that people have. I don’t think two-handing someone over the neck when someone has had previous injuries is right or necessary.”
Comley said that Conboy will "probably" stay home next weekend when they play Lake State. Why there is any qualification on that statement is beyond me. Both players should be suspended for the season, bare minimum. Sheer luck is the only reason this didn't turn into another Steve Moore incident.
The CCHA shouldn't need to issue a suspension to get Comley to leave Conboy's ass home. There's no circumstance where that behavior should be acceptable and if he doesn't have the balls to park him for a damn long time, regardless of what the CCHA does, I'll officially lose all respect for that man.
I say it again, though....thank God...
One player in the hospital. One already suspended for three games. Another sure to receive a suspension. Players tossed from the handshake line. Fans calling for jail time. An attack in the MSU locker room. One incredibly loud (and audible on TV) "F*** You, State" chant that probably had Paula Weston submitting another "OMG SUCH BAD FANS" column before the game even ended. That's not the way a hockey game should end.
For those who missed it, MVictors has the video. The attack--and let's be real, that's what it was--occurs around the 45 second mark and it was worse than what you can see in that clip. Basically, Corey Tropp was bringing the puck through center ice in the waning moments of the 5-3 Michigan victory. Steve Kampfer stepped up and smoked him with a perfectly clean check (and that's not the homer in me talking...it was 100% clean and I don't think any FYS fan would debate that).
Andrew Conboy (more on him later) then chased Kampfer and did his best Todd Bertuzzi impression, sucker-punching him from behind. As Kampfer lay motionless on the ice, Tropp made it to him and unleashed a BC-two-hander into his neck area. Scrums broke out (though I don't think the Michigan players realized how awful the incident was, or we would've had an all-out brawl on our hands). Tropp was assessed a five-minute major for slashing, two ten minute misconducts, and a double game-disqualification, which carries with it a minimum three-game suspension. Conboy got a double minor for roughing, which surely will be increased.
After laying on the ice for several minutes, Kampfer finally skated off with the help of David Wohlberg and Chad Langlais, but was taken to the hospital strapped to a gurney with his neck in a brace. I don't think anyone wants anything more than to hear that Steve Kampfer is ok. As scary as the situation already is, it's made worse by the fact that Kampfer is coming off a well-documented assault, in which he suffered head and neck injuries.
In the post-game handshake line, Tim Miller was escorted to the locker room after reportedly jawing with FYS head coach Rick Comley.
In the aftermath, there was an incident in the FYS locker room. The Ann Arbor News reported that a man attacked Comley, but Mike Spath posted that it was Corey Tropp who was the target. Police were called and not a whole lot else is known. Rumors are out there as to who the man is--Comley said it was "a parent"--and if they're true, while you'd like to see a better reaction, and depending on what took place (no details have emerged yet) it may have been over the line, I sure as hell can't say that I wouldn't have done the same thing. I can't imagine what it must be like to see a kid (your kid?) end up in a neck brace for weeks after an assault, have him come all the way back, and then have him get brutally attacked again just a couple of months later.
As for my opinion on things, I think it was a disgusting display. Conboy has already proven to be a no-talent thug. I think it's hysterically funny that he only got four minutes, but despite the incompetence of their on-ice officials, I have faith that the conference will be passing down a suspension of some sort. Honestly, if I were FYS I would take the opportunity to regain a wasted scholarship and do what St. Cloud did to his brother: boot him from school.
He's a talentless hack, who was pretty much hated by FYS fans before tonight because of his constant dip-shit penalties. Guys like him don't belong in college hockey. Comley stated that he felt like Conboy was probably going to do something dumb when he came out of the penalty box for the last shift, but he "couldn't pull him off the ice". If you've got a kid that is that big of a loose cannon--who you can predict will do something this flat-out retarded--then you don't need him on the roster. Do the right then and send that punk packing, Comley.
As for Tropp, he doesn't have a history of being a dirty player. He lost his mind, and he reacted in a horrifically stupid way. He deserves a suspension well beyond the three games the on-ice officials assessed him with. I don't think it would be unreasonable to sit him the rest of the year. He slashed an injured player in the neck/head, and whether he meant to hurt him or he was just reacting, he certainly did it with the recklessness to cause serious injury. With the crackdown on shots to the head, it can't be ignored. While the video wasn't nearly as shocking as what Chris Simon has done in the past, it was really dangerous and has no place in the game. I'm not sure Tropp should have any place in the game for a good long while, either. Then again, it might be a worse punishment to make him keep suiting up for that sorry-sack team.
I'm not sure how I feel about criminal charges being brought against the players for incidents like this. I do think people are way too quick to suggest it in a lot of cases. I've always been of the opinion that it has to be grossly negligent and completely outside the scope of the game to warrant even consideration. I'm not the person to ask if this incident fit the bill. I will say that I don't think what Conboy and Tropp did is any different than what Bertuzzi did to Steve Moore. And I pray to God that Kampfer has a happier outcome than Steve Moore did.
Tell me how what they did to Kampfer is any different than this:
At least Bertuzzi had the decency to challenge Moore to a fight first, before he sucker-punched him when Moore refused. Conboy just blindsided him. He's a complete coward and Tropp is every bit as big of a gutless chump.
Also to blame for this incident--though certainly not nearly as much as the players themselves--are the on-ice officials, Sergott and Hall, who let the game get completely out of hand. They called a terrible game, emotions were running high on both sides, and they made it worse by incensing both teams.
The first major mistake was when Travis Turnbull was taken down on his way to the net. Turnbull slid into the goal, where Brandon Gentile gave him a two-handed shove to the face and kept pushing. Turnbull couldn't do much fighting back, since he was trapped in the net. He went bonkers when he finally got up. The officials evened-up the penalties.
The other big problem was toward the end of the game (and it resulted in Conboy being in the box before the incident occurred). Conboy had Llewellyn pinned against the boards down behind the Michigan net as the play came out to center ice. He then popped Llewellyn in the face with an official looking right at it. No call. Llewellyn retaliated about ten seconds later by drilling Conboy when he didn't have the puck. The result: Both players were sent to the box. Conboy was pissed because he got called for a penalty for doing nothing (even though he should've been called earlier). Then he came out and attacked Kampfer.
That was the tip of the iceberg though. Palushaj slew-footed Palmisano. Langlais was called for tripping when a FYS player fell a full two seconds after Langlais's stick was anywhere near him. Kampfer was sent off for a really weak roughing penalty, and they returned the favor to Sturges a few minutes later. If they were calling it tight (with the penalties on Kampfer and Sturges) to keep control, they really got away from it later in the game.
I don't think I buy the outrage directed at Comley. I don't believe it for a second that he sent those guys to attack Kampfer and he was fairly stand-up about the incident after the game. He apologized to Red Berenson, and, I can't find the link, but he had some pretty strong words about the lack of intelligence involved with the attack. If he really wants to apologize, he'll at least double whatever suspension the CCHA imposes. I do think that if he really believed that Conboy would do something stupid when he re-entered the play, he needs to have better control of his players. Sent a signal to the box that you want him back on the bench after his penalty is up. They do things like that all the time for strategic reasons. But the bigger issue is why you have a knucklehead like that on your roster.
As for the game itself, Michigan completely dominated. Late in the game, Fox Sports had the scoring chances at 29-7 Michigan. We outshot them 51-21 and the game was only close due to a 15-second stretch on a BS 4-on-4, and a horrible giveaway by Travis Turnbull.
As was the case last night, Matt Rust got the scoring started. This time it took just 36 seconds. Aaron Palushaj fed him, Rust walked in, pulled it cross-crease, and beat Palmisano.
Kampfer made a gorgeous backhand pass to Turnbull on a 3-on-2 and Turnbull roofed it up off the water bottle to give Michigan a 2-0 lead. After a great save by Palmisano on Hagelin, Hogan returned the favor and robbed Gazely. FYS went buck after the play was over, Rowe came flying in and leaped into a pair of Michigan players. Somehow we got the extra two. I'm all for putting one team short-handed after a big scrum, but it helps if the correct team ends up short-handed. Hagelin had the best chance on the FYS power play, batted a pass from Matt Rust out of the air on a 2 on 1.
The power play finally got one late in the period. Brandon Burlon uncorked a shot through traffic to put Michigan up 3-0 heading into intermission. Miller and Lebler both set screens. I don't think Palmisano had a chance to see that one.
Langlais was incredulous after the penalty they called on him early in the second period. As I said, he got his stick on the FYS player's skate. He didn't knock him off stride, and then a full two seconds later, the FYS player lost an edge and fell. Sergott saw that as a penalty. That was big because Sprague took a penalty a few moments later. Instead of a Michigan power play, we were playing 4 on 4 and FYS scored twice.
Schepke scored his fourth in five games against Michigan this season with a shot that beat Hogan from the top of the circle. It was a nice shot, but Hogan would probably like another shot at stopping that one. Then off the faceoff, FYS was able to hit a streaking Andrew Rowe, who got past Greg Pateryn. He popped it in and just like that it was a hockey game again.
Michigan appeared to regain their 2-goal lead a few minutes later. Several Wolverines raised their sticks and the play was reviewed. It looked as if the puck was headed in, but it hit a FYS defenseman who was lying in the crease. Kivisto then gloved the puck while it was on the goalline and slid it underneath Palmisano. I'm not sure how long you have to have your glove on the puck to warrant a penalty shot. He didn't have it on there very long, but he did glove the puck while it was in the crease.
The next shift, Michigan hit the goalpost and I started to get worried that we were going to find a way to lose this one. I was catching the game on the DVR, and all I knew was that a friend called me after the game (to talk about the incident, of which I was unaware at this point). I figured I wouldn't get a call after a win, so I immediately assumed the worst.
Palushaj went to the box for hooking. He got his stick under Leveille's arm, and Leveille clamped down on it and then flopped like his name was Robbie Earl. It was a hook, but Frenchy definitely helped that one along. On the PK, Wohlberg stole the puck, tried to stuff it in, and got cross-checked, negating the rest of the FYS power play.
We went into the intermission up 3-2 and outshooting them 37-12.
And just 12 seconds into the third, Carl Hagelin was at it again. Rust hit him streaking down the wing and he threw it into the net off a defenseman to put Michigan back up by a couple of goals. FYS had no answer for Michigan's speed this weekend and Hagelin took advantage of it. He can flat out fly. By the way, that play was really close to being offside. The replays were inconclusive, but when I saw it live, I thought he was off. Hagelin's foot was blocked by a player's helmet on what would've been the best angle. But after the call on Langlais that indirectly led to two goals (unless you think FYS had it in them to score a pair of shorties on one shift when they have 1 SHG all year), I'm not feeling sorry for them about anything.
The 2-goal lead was short-lived, however, because Travis Turnbull threw a pass up the middle where it was intercepted and deposited in the back of the net by Henderson.
Chris Summers gave the Wolverines yet another two-goal lead with a shot from the point. Palmisano was piiiiiiiiiissed about that one, and he probably had a point. Palushaj was knocked down going to the net and when he got to his feet it appeared as if he slew-footed the FYS goalie. Palmisano got back up and was square to Summers, but there probably should have been a penalty called on that one. Then again, there probably should've been a penalty called on the guy who took Palushaj down as well.
Miller went to the box about halfway through the third and didn't look all that happy about it. I think he got hit low (clipping anyone?) and reacted poorly, but we didn't see a replay. Regardless, we killed the penalty without too much trouble.
Turnbull then went to the box for pushing a FYS player into the goal. Because they were really consistent about calling those. At least 3 Michigan players were hauled down going to the net, Travis Turnbull was hit into the net and then pummelled, and nothing resulted in penalties. This did. And Turnbull was rightfully upset about it. Wohlberg and Miller did a great job killing that one off.
Then came the Llewellyn/Conboy incident. They called Conboy for unsportsmanlike conduct for yapping at Llewellyn after the hit. Because that was a lot worse than punching him in the face for no reason, which went uncalled ten seconds earlier.
Palmisano kept the game within reach when he stoned Hagelin on a breakaway and then stopped Caporusso on the follow-up.
The players came out of the box and then all hell broke loose.
It wasn't the best game we've ever played--there were a lot of awful turnovers in our own end--but any win in a rivalry game is a good one. I have to give all the credit in the world to our penalty killers. FYS had 7 power plays in the game and on those power plays, Michigan actually outshot the Spartans 4-2. Yes, they had 2 shots on goal in 11:43 of power play time. That's absolutely incredible.
Lebler needs to stop taking stupid penalties. When things are so competitive that Ben Winnett and Brandon Naurato are healthy scratches, you can't be good for something stupid every game if you want to stay in the lineup. With the way Fardig, Glendening, and Ciraulo are playing, I don't see them coming out of the lineup in the near future. His charge two minutes into the game just wasn't the type of play he needs to make.
Palmisano was really, really good for FYS. He made 46 saves and a lot of them were of the grade-A variety. We managed 5 goals solely because you can't possibly stop them all when the chances are of that quality. We had twenty-nine scoring chances. And that was before a couple we had on the 5-on-3 at the end of the game. I kind of wish the game could've been extended long enough for Tropp's penalty to be served. It would've been nice to hang another couple goals on their asses.
But anyway, the students put it best. Fuck you, State. Enjoy last place, you pricks. They're in the basement by themselves after this weekend, and the only reason they're not further out of the cellar is because of shootout points.
As for Michigan, they took care of business. With OSU's loss to WMU tonight and UNO's loss to Miami, we're in a tie with both of those teams for 4th place, just two points behind Alaska (who lost in a shootout to NMU) and four back of Miami. We have four games in hand on Alaska and two in hand on UNO and the Dynasty.
Next up are the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who haven't lost since October 25th. That is a huge, huge series. More on that later in the week.
In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed--say a prayer if you do that kind of thing--for Steve Kampfer. I can't believe this happened to him again....
Edit: Still no news on Kampfer. MVictors has photos that show things a little better than the video clips that are out there so far. Though you don't get a great appreciation for the violence with which Tropp swung his stick. I still don't know how you do that to a defenseless player. I'm really curious to see the CCHA and FYS reaction to this.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
The new top line of Wohlberg, Caporusso, and Turnbull combined for 3 goals and 5 assists (including a couple of really pretty shots, one by Wohlberg, and one by Caporusso).
Matt Rust, paired up once against with Aaron Palushaj, tipped in a shot five minutes into the game. And the fourth line of Ciraulo, Fardig, and Glendening was fantastic once again.
The game clearly turned when the score was 2-1 Michigan and the Spartans took a shot that trickled through the legs of Bryan Hogan and nestled up right against the goalpost, halfway over the line. Gazely dove and tried to knock it in but missed and the Wolverines were able to clear. They came down the ice, Hagelin scored unassisted, and the game was never again in doubt.
I know I sound like a broken--or should it be borken--record, but I am so happy that I get to watch Carl Hagelin play hockey. That kid has to be the perfect definition of a coach's dream. He works his ass off, you can put him out there in any situation, and he just never stops skating. When Michigan is on the PK and someone steals the puck from the opponent, I don't even need to see the number any more to know that it's Hagelin. He's phenomenal.
Actually I thought all of our penalty killers were really good tonight. Rust had a great game tag-teaming with Hagelin on the forecheck. Tim Miller was fantastic in his role once again, though I wish he had shot it when he tried to feed someone (Digger or Wohlberg) back door on one golden opportunity. Wohlberg and Fardig were solid once again.
And Chris Summers. Wow. One of the things I've been remiss about is that I don't praise our defensemen nearly as much as I should. I made more of an effort to keep an eye on the back-end tonight and Summers is just a beast. He and Burlon are as solid of a duo as we've had lately.
The fourth line was really, really good tonight. I don't know if Red was trying to send a message to Naurato and Winnett by dressing the guys he dressed or if he was rewarding the play of Fardig, Glendening, and Ciraulo, but either way, I like having those guys in the lineup. They made things happen out there and aside from Glendening's (iffy) penalty when it was already 4-1, they didn't hurt us a bit out there. Fardig did well on the PK, and he potted a goal for himself too.
But after a fairly quiet start to the game, it was really the top line that stole the show. Caporusso scored his 19th and 20th of the season, the second of which was a beautiful hesitation move to get Lerg to go down before roofing it (off a great pass from Wohlberg). And David Wohlberg had a nice little backhander up under the bar of his own. The third member of that line, Turnbull...he only had a playmaker, with a trio of assists. Not a bad night.
I think that's all I really wanted to mention. It's also nice that every single player who took a draw tonight was above .500. Michigan was dominant in the faceoff circle, winning 39 of 60 draws. They didn't quite hit the 40-50 shots I projected, but they got to 36 after outshooting the Spartans 17-5 in the third period.
In net Hogan played a pretty solid game. He made a few really big pad saves when they were needed and there wasn't really a whole helluva lot he could do on either MSU goal. He left a few too many rebounds tonight, but he was able to corral most of them, so it didn't end up being a big deal.
The only real downer of the night was that the power play was terrible again. 0 for 3 with just two shots on net. I suppose it's good that we keep winning games (for the most part) even though they just can't get it clicking with the man advantage.
I hope these lines keep clicking, because I really do like them. I love having Palushaj with Rust, Caporusso and Wohlberg clearly have some chemistry (and Turnbull is playing really well), and the fourth line is just awesome. The third line wasn't great tonight, but they had a couple of shifts where they were really swarming (I did think Miller had a very good game though).
All in all, a really satisfying victory after a slow first period.
To make things even better, NMU took care of Alaska, which moves us just three points behind them with four games in hand. On the sucky side, both the Miami/Omaha game (two teams ahead of us) and the OSU/WMU game went to a shootout and became three-point games. We pick up another point on Miami, since they lost, but OSU kept their unbeaten streak going.
So we stay 6th place in the CCHA:
-10 points behind Notre Dame with a game in hand
-4 points behind Miami with 2 games in hand
-3 points behind Alaska with 4 games in hand
-2 points behind OSU
-2 points behind UNO with 2 games in hand
The shootout points really are killing us. Miami is the only team in the bunch that doesn't have 3 shootout bonus points on the season (they've just got one). Without those, we're ahead of OSU and UNO, tied with Alaska (with a ton of games in hand) and in position to pass Miami. Not to mention that if we were to win tomorrow night in our game in hand, as well as sweep the Irish next weekend, we could pull within a single point of the CCHA lead. With the shootout points, it's a lot steeper of a hill to climb, though I still think we're in very good shape for second place in the conference.
And we've gotten some separation on the rest of the pack. We're 5 points up on Ferris in 7th place with a game in hand, and no one else is closer than 9 points behind us.
Tomorrow's a big one. We've lost to a lot of bad hockey teams this season, and it would be nice to complete the regular season sweep of MSU, in what could very well be the last time we face Mini-Me. The game is important not only because it's two more points at stake in a very tight CCHA race, but it could also let us build up some momentum heading into next week's huge home-and-home with Notre Dame.
Friday, January 23, 2009
In case you missed it, the NHL suspended Lidstrom and Datsyuk for a game apiece for the dastardly sin of missing the All Star game, not having an injury by the league's definition, and not attending the festivities. The best part? Both guys actually are injured! Just not by the league's standard.
Based on the NHL's criteria, for a player to miss the All Star game and use injury as an excuse, that player has to have missed his team's last game before the All Star break. Datsyuk was injured during Detroit's last game, but since he played in the contest he wasn't eligible to use injury as an excuse for not playing. Because that makes a ton of sense.
Lidstrom has been battling tendinitis and an elbow injury and was hoping to use the long weekend to recuperate and be ready to play in the second half. Ya know, for the team that pays his salary.
So if you're keeping track, the league just suspended a defenseman who has not taken a major penalty in his career (which might be the most amazing stat I've ever heard) as well as the three-time defending Lady Byng Trophy winner.
Sidney Crosby, on the other hand, played in Pittsburgh's most recent game, isn't playing in the All Star Game due to injury, but won't be suspended because he'll be in Montreal taking in the event. Because I'm sure he'll be mingling with fans the entire time and won't be holed up in a private suite, no sir. He'll be growing the game non-stop the entire weekend.
Personally, I think they should make Crosby participate in a new Skills Challenge event called "Cross-Check Sidney Crosby in the Face", but that's just me. Or they could have him fight Alexander Semin to see who can look like a bigger pansy in the process.
But back to the issue at hand: This isn't the NFL's Pro Bowl, where no one really wants to play. I've never really noticed an issue with attendance at the NHL All Star Game. Datsyuk, in fact, was so happy to see his jersey that he referred to it as a Russian Christmas present. And the league actually apologized for the fact that they had to suspend Lidstrom, since he's played in so many of these things over the years.
What freaking sense does this make? Don't they understand that sometimes a guy is dinged up, willing to play in real games because that's what they're getting paid to do, but perhaps they'd like a little R & R over playing in an exhibition that no one is watching? And that maybe they'd rather spend the long weekend in Florida than watching said exhibition game?
Is Crosby really helping the hockey world that much by just being there? What good is Datsyuk going to do by attending? He doesn't speak French. He barely speaks English. It's not like he's going to do a ton of interviews or anything.
It also really amuses me that the suspension is because they want the best players playing in he ASG for the fans to be able to see them. (Because the league is so fan friendly.) And yet, the fans who paid to see the Red Wings take on the Blue Jackets next week will be denied an opportunity to see two of the best players the game has to offer, because they're suspended. What a great idea! You sure showed the players that the fans should come first at all times! It's like suspending a kid for skipping school. And if you don't come to school again, more days off school for you young man!
It also makes it that much more funny that Avery got suspended for conduct detrimental to the league. If we're preventing people from working for being detrimental to the game of hockey, I'm pretty sure Gary Bettman should never be employed again.
The stupidity of this league is mind-numbing.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
MSU has gotten it together somewhat after going winless for 11 games (12 if you count losing to the NTDP...again). They've had 3 straight split weekends, beating North Dakota, losing to us, splitting with Alaska, and splitting with Miami.
They're still bad--they got outshot 60-13 in Saturday's game against Miami--but they're also not the doormat they were at the start of the year and they're perfectly capable of stealing one. Particularly since Michigan hasn't shown an ability to take care of business against the teams at the bottom of the standings.
MSU has given up a single goal in each of their three wins (and it's a good thing Lerg was on, because they scored just two goals in two of the wins), but they've given up 5, 3 (to Alaska, which is like giving up 5), and 6 goals in the losses.
Matt Schepke leads the team with 15 points (10-5--15). He and Leveille are the only two with more than 5 goals, and they've each got four tallies on the power play.
For the season, Lerg has a 2.86 goals against and a .920 save percentage, which is no doubt aided by MSU's tendancy to greatly inflate opponent's shot totals. Since it's State's "home" game tomorrow night at the Joe, let me go on record as saying that I will be shocked if we don't get credited with 40-50 shots on goal. He's faced fewer than thirty shots just one time since before Thanksgiving, and that was in the GLI where he faced 26 before getting yanked.
They're still 57 out of 58 in scoring offense (1.67 goals per game) and 32nd in team defense at 2.96 goals a night. The power play is at 13.2%, which isn't even 1% worse than our anemic unit and their PK is 86.2%.
A couple reminders:
-Tomorrow's game is at Joe Louis. It's strange that the Friday game is at the Joe, but that's how they're doing it this time. Saturday is at Yost.
-Tomorrow's game will air on FSN Plus and Saturday's is on Fox Sports Detroit.
Now for a little fun, since I think this stat is pretty cool. I hope I can explain it well:
The average team in the NHL has played 46.67 games so far this season. Dressing 18 skaters a night, that means each team has averaged 840 man games.
The 21 former Wolverines (not counting Turco) who have skated in the NHL this season have combined for 654 man games, which works out to 36.33 games if you dress 18 skaters a night. In those games, they've combined for 122 goals, which is more than 7 NHL teams have scored (NYI, OTT, CAR, TB, NAS, MIN, and LA), despite the fact that the Wolverines to a man have played the equivalent of 10 fewer games.
Based on the "team's" average of 3.36 goals per game, they'd have 157 goals if they were on equal footing with the rest of the league in terms of games played. 157 goals would rank only behind Detroit, San Jose, and Boston.
I realize that the vast majority of guys we've put into the NHL have been forwards. So it does skew the stats a little bit that we have more forwards playing than you'd typically dress. But our forwards have played the equivalent of 44.5 games (dressing 12 guys a night), which is still less than the NHL average of 46.67. And we're well behind the league average in man games out of our defense.
If you break it down that way the forwards have 113 goals in 534 man games, which is .21 goals per forward per game or 2.54 goals a night. The defensemen have 9 goals in 120 man games, which is .075 goals per defenseman per game, or .45 goals for the unit per game.
So our hypothetical team of Wolverines (12 forwards and 6 defensemen based on each position's averages) is scoring 2.99 goals per game, which would place them 10th in the NHL, just .01 goals per game behind New Jersey and Montreal for 8th.
Not bad considering guys like Comrie and Morrison have had down years and we don't really have a bona fide superstar, though Cammalleri is tied for 7th in goals.
Lastly, I'd like to bid a fond farewell to a friend of this site, WDFN. I haven't listened much since I moved to Wisconsin, but I was a loyal listener through my middle school and high school days. I'm not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, but I used to get up extra early to listen to Damon "The Dog" Perry for as long as possible before school. Hardly a day went by without me or one of my friends making a Yinka Dare "No dime" reference.
Stoney and Wojo and Gregg and Jamie were two of my other favorite shows. I made sure never to miss "What's Your Beef" and I loved catching the Stoney and Wojo NCAA-style brackets. And even though I'm not a Lions fan, I would never miss Art Regner's post-game rants. "IF WE WERE THE FLAGSHIP, WE'D BE BLOWING BOBBY TODAY" (cue the audio clip of Bobby Ross going "Ohhhh yeah! I mean, yeah!")
My favorite memory of the station, though, has to be the promo songs. Somewhere I've got a tape of "Moronic" and "Yabba Dabba Do" (the songs mocking the Lions to the tune of "Ironic" and "I Only Wanna Be With You"). They were absolute classics. I think I could still sing all of "Moronic".
I remember when they would air "The Great American Sports Trivia Show". Even though I never got lucky enough to get one of the really cool prizes, I still picked up a couple things from calling into that show. I also won Detroit Grand Prix tickets one year for correctly answering a question about the ill-fated U.S. 500.
It saddens me that the station as I knew it is no more. I grew up listening to almost every show they had to offer, and even though The Dog moved on, Henson is in Texas, and I can't really listen to Stoney and Wojo, it bums me out to think they aren't on the air anymore, period.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
According to this website, every NCAA hockey tournament game will be shown. Live. It looks like there's a conflict on ESPNU between the East and West regional final, but aside from that it looks pretty good based on the once-over I gave it. The last weekend in March really might be the best weekend of the year.
The NTDP squads went a combined 4-0 in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. Jack Campbell made 17 saves to help the Stars to a 4-1 win over the NAHL West in his appearance. AJ Treais had a pair of goals and an assist for the squad and was named Player of the Game.
Treais ended up with a 3-1--4 line in the tournament, tying him with Jacob Fallon (1-3--4) for the team lead in points. Brown, Lynch, and Clare all had assists as well.
And it sounds like all is well with Summers and Rust. Both should be good to go for this weekend's games.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
So the Wolverines win this one 1-0 on a goal by Chad Langlais. Billy Sauer made 19 saves (based on Gametracker) and got absolutely mobbed by his teammates after the game, which was great to see. How can you not feel good for that kid after a performance like that.
If you need any proof that the coaches haven't lost faith in Billy Sauer, the fact that they were willing to start him tonight should tell you all you need to know. Michigan had to have this one, the goal support was very limited yet again, and Sauer held the Falcons off the scoreboard to allow the Wolverines to salvage a couple of points this weekend.
The weekend went from bad to near-disaster just 23 seconds into the game when Chris Summers was drilled shoulder-first into the boards. He came back and played the rest of the first period and I don't think he played after that. He wasn't on the bench in the third period. The announcers thought he might have gotten his bell rung. Hopefully it's nothing serious. It certainly looked like it could be a collerbone/shoulder injury. I was surprised to see him back out there.
Hagelin was zipping around tonight. He drew a couple of BGSU penalties, caused another by using his speed and forcing them to knock Llewellyn down to prevent a scoring chance and damn near scored himself a shortie, made a great defensive play to take a chance away from Solway, who was in all alone after Pateryn went and hit a Falcon at the blueline, and he stole the puck from Spratt behind the net, nearly leading to a wrap-around goal. He was fantastic.
Shots were 11-1 Michigan about halfway through the first period, but despite a couple of power plays, there weren't any chances that were anything special.
Caporusso came out from behind the net and hit Langlais who tried to send one through traffic. Play continued and Caporusso just wheeled through the offensive zone and I have no idea how he missed on his opportunity. He didn't have a ton to shoot at, but he had a goal if his shot was on net.
After 1 shots were 14-4 but the score remained 0-0.
Early in the second, Travis Turnbull broke into the open on a delayed call. He about had his arm taken off and his shot went wide. BGSU was lucky to only get called for one penalty there, because that was a BC two-hander their guy laid on Turnbull. Or a "BG two hander" maybe? Yuk yuk yuk.
Sauer made his first big stop of the game when Sexton found the late man entering the zone. He got off a nice shot from inside the top of the circle and Sauer had to be quick with the pad.
The Wolverines made it 1-0 just a couple of minutes later. Danny Fardig got off a nice shot, skated down the rebound, got the puck out to Langlais at the point, and Langlais put a seeing-eye shot just inside the far post. Spratt was screened by a couple of guys and we were pretty lucky that the shot didn't hit one of them on the way through.
Steve Kampfer then proved that he's not afraid of contact, because he absolutely BLEW UP Josh Boyd, who was trying to enter the zone with his head down. Jack Johnson would have appreciated that hit. Of course, Jack Johnson probably would've gotten five and a game for that hit.
Speaking of JMFJ, he's baaaaaaaaaaack! Turco stopped him in a shootout today, actually.
The Wolverines nearly made it 2-0 a couple of minutes later. Winnett put a bouncing shot toward the net, Miller nearly corralled the rebound, but it hopped over his stick.
I made fun of the refs for calling Lebler for "clipping" during the Michigan/Wisconsin game, but Boyd showed us exactly what clipping is. He completely low-bridged Tristin Llewellyn and Llewellyn looked to be in some pain. If what Lebler did was five, then I have no doubts that should have been five as well. Luckily Llewellyn would later return, because it looked like he hurt.
Llewellyn came back and took a penalty. He and Petruska then wrestled each other to the ice. Even though they aren't allowed to drop their gloves, that was still 1000% more manly than Alexander Semin's fight with Marc Staal.
Late in the PP, Winnett sprung Fardig on a partial breakaway and Fardig got hauled down. It may or may not have counted because the net ended up coming off, but when Fardig wiped out, the puck got through both he and Spratt and was heading in. But as Spratt spun from the impact with Fardig, his leg knocked the puck into the post.
The teams traded useless power plays and then Sinkewich took his fourth penalty of the game. Michigan appeared to go up 2-0, but upon further review the goal was waived off. This was yet another opportunity for Steve McInchak to look like an incompetent boob. There was a mad scramble in front of the net and McInchak was positioned directly behind the goal. He had the best view in the house. He didn't blow the whistle when the puck looked to be completely covered. He didn't blow the whistle when Ben Winnett flung himself into the goalie. Hagelin then put the puck in the net and McInchak emphatically pointed that it was a goal. Jimmy Spratt literally chased him around the rink screaming at him. Scott Paluch looked like he was going to go Robbie Ftorek and throw a bench on the ice. Then he went upstairs and waived the goal off. Brilliant.
For the record, there's no way that goal should have counted. He got it right eventually. I just think it's hilarious that he watched the play, emphatically called it a goal, and then was like "Oops, I'm an idiot." And I have no idea what Winnett was trying to do there.
BGSU was given a power play with 2:20 to play when Kampfer put his arm on a guy who was 3/4s of the way on the ice already. He completely just lost an edge, but hey, it's McInchak. BGSU pulled the goalie with like a minute and a half left. Sauer made a fantastic save on Kantola to preserve the victory.
According to Gametracker, the Wolverines outshot BGSU 39-19 but they needed Sauer to make every one of those saves because, yet again, they couldn't give him very much goal support (though he did get infinity % more than Hogan got at Yost yesterday). The defense was very good tonight. I think BGSU only had about 10 shots through two periods.
The defensemen really don't get the individual praise on this blog that they deserve, simply because it's tough to pick out numbers on TV when all you see is the Block M on their chests when they're playing defense. But I thought Tristin Llewellyn was a beast tonight. He made a lot of really nice plays and even got down there in the offensive zone and made a couple plays and drew a penalty.
Robbie Czarnik was flying out there again tonight. After one opportunity he came to the bench with his hands on his head. He's skating his butt off to try to turn his season around. There were a couple times tonight where I thought he was trying a little too hard to score a goal. He had one opportunity where there were two Michigan players stationed by the back post, open, and he took a harmless shot from about 50 feet out. It looks like he's gone to the Chad Kolarik method of shoot, shoot, and shoot some more, but he took a couple of really low-percentage shots tonight when there was a better play out there. He was one of the more noticeable guys out there tonight though.
Our power play was junk tonight. Even American International thought we were awful. Thankfully BGSU's wasn't any better. The teams combined for double-digit power plays and I think they had about 2 combined top-notch scoring chances. It was pretty awful.
So yeah, not pretty, but two points in the standings. The loss Friday night probably means we can forget about catching Notre Dame unless they badly falter, but I still think we're in fine position to get up into top 2 in the conference. It just sucks that we lost out on a chance to gain two points on Miami after their loss to MSU last night. It doesn't help that we've dropped games to all three of the teams tied for 10th in the conference.
The biggest thing is the status of Chris Summers. We can't afford to lose him, especially with MSU and Notre Dame looming the next two weekends.
Here's a nice story from NHL.com about Mac Bennett.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
If you want proof that polls mean nothing, look no further. I really want to know who ranked the Spartans in the top 20 of the poll. They've won two games since Halloween, they're 11th place in the CCHA, and are 6-13-3 on the season. I mean, it's not like they're in the WCHA, where clearly if you're 7 games under .500, you're still one of the ten best teams in the country.
The only possible rationale that I can come up with is that voters from Minnesota wrote "MSU" on their poll, thinking they were voting for Mankato State. The "Whack Ballot Watchdog" is barking up a storm over this one. Those points have to be a mistake, right? I don't even think the biggest Spartan homer would have his team anywhere near the top 20. I mean, I guess that win over North Dakota looks pretty good right now, but.....
Anyway, this week we take on the Bowling Green of Ohio Falcons. Here are 10 Things to Know about them:
1) They come into this weekend in last place in the CCHA (though, without those pesky shootout points, they'd be ahead of Sparty and tied with NMU) with a record of 7-12-3 (4-9-1-0 in conference). They're 1-6-1 on the road, which doesn't bode well for Friday night's contest at Yost, but they've got a .500 record in the orange confines of their home rink. The lone road win was a 1-0 victory up at Alaska. They also have a solid win over Omaha at home. And they did sweep the same Clarkson team that beat Miami of Ohio (Not That Miami of Ohio). Amazingly, that's not enough to get votes in the USCHO poll.
2) Their goal scoring has been kind of wonky. They've done pretty well in the nonconference games, less so in conference. But more than that, they started the year really well, went through a really rough stretch, and now are putting the puck in the net again. After scoring 3 or more in seven of their first ten, they went seven straight without scoring more than 2. Since then, however, they've scored 3, 4, 3, 5, 3. They average a whopping 33 shots on goal a night.
3) Freshman sensation Jacob Cepis (15-16--31) was unable to repeat his first year magic, scoring just a goal and four assists in eighteen games before transferring to Minnesota. Believe it or not, though, they have two more double-digit goal scorers than the Wolverines. Dan Sexton, David Solway, and Kai Kantola all have 10 (Kantola has 5 in his last 8). Sexton leads the team in points with 25 in 22 games and has 5-4--9 during a five game point streak. They've got eight goals from their defensemen, and their D has scored seven goals and nine assists in the last nine games.
4) In net it's been Jimmy Spratt most of the way. Sophomore Nick Eno, who played 22 games a year ago, has been in net just twice due to an ankle injury, though his two appearances were in BGSU's most recent games (a relief appearance Friday night against OSU and a start the next night). Spratt is 7-11-3 on the season with a 3.15/.882.
5) Their 2.41 goals per game ranks 40th in the country. Defensively they're 47th, giving up 3.36 a night. In conference games only, they rank 8th on offense and 12th on defense. It's kind of sad that 2.07 goals per game is better than 3 other teams in the CCHA.
6) Their power play hasn't been good. They rank 52nd in the country at 11.5% and have given up six shorthanded goals. Adjust for SHG, and their power play falls to 7.4%. They do have seven PPGs in the last five games, however. Sidenote, accounting for shorties, American Int'l would have a 0% power play. Ehht! Their penalty killing is 43rd at 81%, but they've scored six shorties of their own (giving them an 85.7% adjusted PK). RIT is the only team with more short-handed goals than BGSU. Sexton, Svendsen, and Schmitt each have two SHGs.
7) They have one European on the team, but shockingly it's not the guy with the last name Svendsen. Tomas Petruska is Czech (actually he's Slovakian, but if you watched the US/Slovakia game in the World Juniors, you learned that the terms are apparently interchangable).
8) Michigan is 72-31-3 all-time against BGSU, and won the games last season 4-2 and 3-2. We're 14-3-1 since the 01-02 season. Tim Miller is Michigan's leading scorer against the Falcons with 4 assists in 6 games. Matty Rust is the only Wolverine with more than 1 career goal against BGSU. He has 2 in 2 games. Billy Sauer is 2-1-0 with a 1.53/.949. Hogan has never faced Bowling Green.
9) Stop the top line and you stop BGSU. Svendsen, Solway, and Sexton have combined for right around 65% of the team's goals, assists, and points in the 12 CCHA games they've skated in together. For the season, they've accounted for close to 50% of BGSU's goals in the games they've played together.
10) In the 106 game history of this series, there have only been two shutouts. A 4-0 Michigan win in 1993, and a 5-0 Michigan win in January of 2007. That really surprises me.
Here's a bonus 11th thing:
11) Petruska and Schmidt are the only players with multiple points against Michigan in their career. Sexton and Solway each have a goal in two games though. Svendsen has been held off the scoresheet in his four games against Michigan. Eno is 0-1-0 with a goals against a tick above three and a .893 save percentage while Spratt is 1-3-0 with a 4.02/.877.
Friday night's game is not on TV, but MGoBlue with have the video. Saturday's game is on Comcast 900 and the NHL Network (in Canada) and will be shown at noon on Sunday in the US on the NHL Network.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Just under a year after he was kicked off the Wolverines, Kevin Quick, aka "Other", was called up by the Tampa Bay Lightning on an emergency basis and it appears he will make his NHL debut tonight against the San Jose Sharks. The Lightning dressed just five defensemen a night ago and one of them went down, so it looks like Quick will play tonight (and possibly quite a bit). He has 0 points and a +3 rating in 14 games with the Norfolk Admirals this season.
It's nice to see that one incredibly bad decision hasn't screwed up his life. By all accounts, he's a good kid that made a mistake, and it's nice to see that he's been able to continue his career. I don't know if it would be proper to consider him a Michigan "alum" in the NHL, but if ya count him, we're only a backup goalie away from being able ice an entire team of ex-Michigan players. I believe he'd be defenseman #6 in the league at the moment.
The North American midterm rankings are out. Chris Brown is the #29 skater, Mac Bennett is #63, Kevin Lynch is #83, AJ Treais is #205, and Lee Moffie is #210.
MHNet doesn't win for coolest photo of the weekend (the first shot from Friday night's gallery on MGoBlue takes that honor), but this one is right up there with the shot from inside the net of Burlon's goal going in. There are some really cool shots in that gallery.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Miami had the first great chance of the game as a pass got through to Vogelhuber on a two on one. It looked like Robbie Czarnik got over to bother his shot.
The Wolverines had a power play and didn't do much. Turnbull had a tip in front, but that was about all we got going. After the power play ended, Luke Glendening scored the first goal of his Michigan career to put the Wolverines up 1-0. David Wohlberg made a great pass on the play and Scooter Vaughan--back in the lineup for Greg Pateryn today--had the other assist. Glendening has been absolutely outstanding as of late. He was fantastic in the GLI and scored a big goal in a crucial game today.
Hogan then kept it 1-0 with a good chest save on Vogelhuber. Hogan wrapped the puck around the boards and Michigan couldn't get it out. Vogelhuber got the puck just to Hogan's left and tried to drag it across the crease. Hogan stayed with him and made a chest save. Vogelhuber and Palmer were Miami's best players this weekend. Vogelhuber was the only one that was really getting consistent chances.
Ben Winnett was called for a penalty early in the second when his man beat him on a faceoff and Winnett hauled him down. The Wolverines were lucky to get out of this one with the lead in tact. The puck snuck out to Hogan's right and it looked like Palmer had an empty net to shoot at, but somehow Hogan kicked his pad out to the right and got his toe on it. That was the save of the weekend right there.
Then Timmy Miller took over the PK and earned himself his second standing ovation on the weekend due to outstanding work while a man down. He stole the puck from a RedHawk behind the net, toe-dragged it out in front, and had a couple pops at it that Knapp was able to stop.
The Wolverines received a 5 minute power play when Aaron Palushaj was smoked from behind and Schilling was ejected. 3 mintes into the power play, I'm not sure the Wolverines even had a shot on goal, but Summers flipped one toward the net, it deflected off a defenseman right to Matt Rust. Rust took a couple of whacks at it and finally got it to go in the net. It'd be huge if that goal could spur Rust on to a big second half.
Czarnik made his second great defensive play of the night to help keep the game 2-0 heading to the second intermission. He intercepted a centering pass. I'm not sure Miami had anyone streaking in, but if they did that saved a great scoring chance.
Langlais was called for cross-checking at the end of the second period, so the RedHawks started the third with a long power play and a chance to get back into the game. Buuut the best scoring chance on the power play came off another great play by David Wohlberg. Wohlberg and Miller broke in two on one. Wohlberg tried to feed him and the puck went off Miller's skate and into the net. Langseth immediately waived it off, the video replay didn't show anything because they weren't close enough to the crease and all they can look at is the overhead cam (which is stupid...if you've got the technology, use it), and they disallowed the goal.
Now, I can't remember how the rule reads, since I'm pretty sure they changed it after the title game last season. If the puck can't hit off a skate and go into the net at all anymore, then it was the right call, and just a stupid rule. If it's allowed to hit your skate and you just can't kick it, then it was a terrible call. I seem to remember there being something about a goal not being able to be scored off a skate that's moving forward, so they probably got it right. It's just a terrible rule. If you have confidence in your officials, then let them make the determination if a guy kicked it in or not. It's really not that hard. In my book, that's a goal that should count. Miller didn't kick it in. I don't think he actually knew the puck hit him. Why are we disallowing that?
It didn't matter, because David Wohlberg proved a few minutes later that the puck don't lie. He came in on a pretty innocent looking play and wristed one up under the bar on the blocker side. How awesome is David Wohlberg? I really wasn't counting on him to be an impact player as a freshman. I thought we'd get solid defense out of him and that he'd do great on the penalty kill, but he's proved that he can be a great player on the offensive end as well. He just makes things happen.
With Michigan on the power play, Langseth called Caporusso for one of the most inexplicable penalties I've ever seen. He had control of the puck, he hit shoulder to shoulder with a Miami player, the Miami player fell, and they called Caporusso for hooking. Speechless. At least he didn't trip any of our players in this year's Michigan/Miami series.
Steffes was then called for tripping and the Wolverines went back on the man advantage. Kampfer made a gorgeous feed to Naurato in the slot and Knapp made a nice play to get a pad on it. A Michigan player--Turnbull I think--was streaking in for the rebound but couldn't quite get there.
Our top line nearly connected late. Palushaj and Caporusso came in two on one, but Palushaj's pass was blocked. It came right back to him, so he fed Wohlberg who was coming in late. Wohlberg walked in and tried to hit the same corner that he hit earlier in the period and just sent it wide.
The Wolverines got that fourth goal a little bit later though. While on the power play late in the game, Miller fed a streaking Kampfer. Kampfer had two or three pops at it and eventually got it to go in. The crowd erupted when Kampfer's name was announced over the PA as having scored the goal. Miller and Glendening got the assists. It was nice to see the two of them get some power play time because they really earned it this weekend. Miller was great both games at killing penalties and Glendening scored a huge goal.
Yesterday's win was on the ugly side after the opening period, but I thought today was a cleaner performance. They still missed on quite a few odd-man rushes, and they still had a few fugly turnovers that Hogan bailed them out on, but overall I thought the play tonight was pretty good. Last night the RedHawks pretty clearly dominated the second period, but there wasn't a time of the game like that tonight. Aside from their chances with Winnett in the box, they really never showed any sign of getting back into the game.
Justin Mercier and Carter Camper were scratched due to injuries sustained in last night's game. They're both great, great players and I think it hurt Miami's power play especially not to have them. They've combined for 11 PPGs on the season. Then again, the Wolverine penalty killers have been fantastic against Miami all season. It's worth mentioning, even if I still think we more than likely would have won this game with that duo in the lineup. They had Mercier on during the second intermission and he sounds like a really, really great kid.
I think it says an awful lot about Luke Glendening that they trust him enough to put him out on the penalty kill in a game of this magnitude. He's been piling up great plays the last few games. He had three points in the GLI and his line was fantastic the whole weekend. Then he scores a ginormous goal tonight, adds a late assist, and does some nice work on the PK. Not bad for a freshman recruited walkon.
Tim Miller also deserves some more dap. He's a huge reason that Miami's power play was held in check for the most part.
Kudos to the fans. I could only see what the cameras showed, but at least on the East side of the arena, you'd never know this was a Sunday matinee and not a Saturday night game. The place was packed. Nice to see everyone recognize how big of a game this was for Michigan's hopes in the CCHA.
And congrats to Bryan Hogan on his first shutout at Yost. He made some really, really nice saves and once again smothered almost everything tonight. He only had to make 18 saves, but once again he had a couple of timely ones, and the one on Palmer was enormous. He's not remotely flashy, but he goes out and wins. Also, he hasn't given up a soft goal since the game at Munn over a month ago. Then again, he's only given up two goals since that game at Munn, which is kind of awesome.
That toe save he made on Palmer was as big as it gets. It was a 1-0 game at the time. Give that up, and Miami is right back in the weekend. Instead it stays 1-0 and Michigan adds to the lead on the major penalty later in the period. Miami just wasn't going to mount a comeback in this game without Camper and Mercier, especially since Pat (goon) Cannone never does jack against us. I heard his name about one time this weekend, and he had one whopping shot on net today.
Another very solid defensive effort for Michigan. Up 2-0 and with Miami on the power play to start the third, the defense allowed just two shots on goal the entire period.
And again, the secondary scoring comes through for Michigan. Scoring 9 goals on the weekend and not getting a goal from Caporusso or Palushaj is pretty impressive. They did combine for five assists on the weekend though.
Michigan had to get 4 points this weekend and they did it. Next week they get a home and home against the BGSU Falcons. Michigan has thrown away some points in series like this earlier in the year. Once again, it's critical to get four next weekend against a team that's struggling badly (two wins against a terrible Clarkson team are their only victories since mid-November) but is also .500 for the season at home.
What does this win do the CCHA standings? We're tied with OSU for 5th place in the same number of games (but I think we'd win the tiebreaker because of more regulation wins). We're 3 points behind Omaha (two games in hand) and Alaska (four games in hand), just five points back of Miami now (with two games in hand), and ten back of Notre Dame (with two games in hand).
Basically this sweep really helped our chances of finishing in the top four in the CCHA. We needed to sweep Miami to have any hope of catching them, so at this point, we should feel pretty good about our chances of finishing in the top two in conference. It's the same story with Notre Dame that it was with Miami. Sweep them and we've got a chance to catch them. Don't sweep them, and we won't have a shot. Still, we really helped ourselves this weekend, beating the second-place RedHawks in pretty dominating fashion overall (even if last night's game wasn't as big of a blowout as the score indicated).
Miami has Little Brother next weekend in Oxford. Notre Dame travels up to LSSU for a pair.
Droppin' Justin Williams like he's hot. You have to wait for the last replay to see how great that punch was.
If college guys could fight and not get suspended, it would've been pretty fun having the Hunwick/Mike Brown combo...
Pacioretty has four points in five games since getting called up to the Canadiens.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Apparently Comcast got hit with a load of bricks falling from the roof or something, because they didn't get the feed on until 4 1/2 minutes into the game. At least we only missed two Michigan goals, who wanted to see those anyway?
Summers backhanded in a rebound and three minutes later Brandon Burlon wristed one on net that was blockered aside. The richocet hit the Miami defenseman and deflected into the net. I'm not sure if this stat really means anything, but that's the first first-period power play goal Miami has allowed since early November. I read that in Miami's release and it stuck in my head, so it gets mentioned.
Right when the feed came on, Chad Langlais got a stick on a Miami player who was left all alone in front and sent his shot awry. The Wolverines came down and Burlon let a shot go. Naurato's shot at the cage was blocked by a RedHawk defender, but the rebound came back to him and he buried it on his second opportunity to put the Wolverines up by 3 just five minutes in.
That was it for Reichard. I told you we were going to jack up their goaltending situation due to the postponement of last night's game!
Turnbull somehow ended up with the extra two in a scrum after the whistle and we were shorthanded late in the period. There was a faceoff deep in Miami's end with 10 seconds left and Rust shot the puck toward the net when it was dropped. Hagelin jumped on the rebound and put the Wolverines up by four headed to the intermission. We missed that one too, since Comcast was showing a fairly useless replay at the time. If you're counting, we saw one of the four goals that period. Though, it's because of Comcast that we were seeing the game anyway, so I probably shouldn't complain too much.
The second period wasn't overly exciting. Miami scored with Hagelin in the box on a holding penalty that probably had Mickey Redmond shaking his head somewhere. It was on the cheap side. Steffes waited for Summers to slide out of the way and made a really nice pass to Palmer in the slot. He could've shot, but he slid one to the other post where Vogelhuber was streaking in. It was an easy tap-in, but Vogelhuber blew a tire and was falling to the ice when the pass was coming. He somehow got a stick on it and Miami was on the board.
Michigan had a couple power plays of their own that didn't result in much. The camera caught Blasi saying "That was bull. So bad." after one call. I guess he missed what they called on Hagelin to give Miami the power play where they scored their only goal.
Vaive popped Burlon in the head twice, then knocked him down when he didn't have the puck. On the way down, Burlon clamped his arm on Vaive's stick. Shegos looked at that and felt that holding the stick on Burlon was the proper call. Had to make good with Rico, I guess. Brian Hill was impressed with that call.
Miami was buzzing late in the period and Hogan had to be sharp. The Wolverines finally got the puck out of the zone after running around for over a minute. Naurato tried to dump it in, but didn't hit the angle on the boards right and the puck went about 8 feet. Michigan got caught on a change and Hogan had to make a big stop on Steffes.
Miller and Wohlberg were fantastic on the PK that period. Wohlberg had a fun play where he fell to his knees around the Miami blueline, continued to stickhandle the puck, and dumped it into the empty corner.
Miller went to block a shot but the guy didn't shoot. He tried to dangle around the prone Miller, but Timmy swept his stick along the ice and knocked the puck out to center. Later, on a different power play for Miami, Miller singlehandedly killed off a good half-minute by forechecking the hell out of them and winning battles on the boards. The crowd gave him a huge ovation for the effort.
We need to get the Elias Sports Bureau on this one: Early in the second period, both teams were called for too many men at the same time. I'd be surprised if that's ever happened before. When Shegos was explaining the call, both coaches looked like they swallowed a lemon.
In the third, Cannone (goon) had a great chance after a Michigan turnover, but Hogan made a nice shoulder save. Kampfer was able to stay in the passing lane on a slow-developing 2 on 1 and he broke up the pass to prevent a scoring chance.
Hagelin had a nice kill where he did a lap around the offensive zone then fed the puck back to our defense out at center ice. I love watching him do that.
Caporusso was kind of in disbelief when he broke in on the net and had his stick slashed out of his hands. Shegos was looking right at it, and despite it being one of the most obvious penalties you'll ever see, the whistle wasn't coming out for that one. But I look forward to the article in the Miami Student saying that he gave us this game.
Michigan then had a 2 on 1 of their own the other way. Turnbull got forced wide by Weber so he couldn't pass it as quickly as he wanted. He got the pass over to a streaking Naurato, but the pass was in his skates.
The Wolverines put the game away when Tim Miller won a draw clean to Brian Lebler. We never got a replay, but it looked like he absolutely uncorked one.
Nothing much happened the rest of the game in terms of actual hockey. Miami started some rough stuff to try and send a message for tomorrow. Wideman cross-checked Rust in the face and they were roughing it up a little bit, then Pateryn and Steffes got involved. I'm pretty sure Wideman would want no part of Rust if they were actually allowed to fight.
After the final horn apparently there was a lot of jawing (shoving?) going on. Turnbull, Naurato, and Roeder were having words when the camera got on them. Then Rico was reading the riot act to Berenson, who was just giving him a blank stare. I think my money would be on Red in that battle. Rico comes up to his nose. It was hilarious to see Blasi going buck and Red just staring at him like he was from Mars.
-It was a great effort from Michigan. They jumped on Miami early and often, and the game was never really in doubt. The RedHawks scored a power play goal, but the penalty killing was fantastic for the most part. The second period wasn't so great, but they played a good game overall.
-It's great to be scoring so many goals and not have Caporusso, Palushaj, or Wohlberg put one in the net (though Caporusso and Palushaj had a pair of assists apiece).
-Michigan has found their offense. They have 32 goals in the last six starts for Hogan. Fittingly, in Sauer's one start in there, we got shut out.
-Miami wasn't nearly as physical as they were back in Oxford. Kevin Roeder was hitting everything that moved that weekend, but I only heard his name a couple of times tonight. They did a nice job of creating turnovers on the forecheck, but the intimidation factor really wasn't there. The only time one of our guys really got planted was when Winnett tried to stickhandle through four guys and only made it through three.
-A big question for tomorrow's game will be the status of Carter Camper and Justin Mercier. Camper was injured on a "good hit" (his words) in the first period. He returned the ice, but didn't come out for the third. I didn't see what happened to Mercier, but Art Regner reported he was in the locker room on the trainer's table and looked to be in some pain. If those guys can't go tomorrow, that's definitely a factor in the game.
-Hogan did a really nice job of controlling rebounds tonight. He only gave up a couple. For the most part, every time a shot was on him, he smothered it. He had a couple of great poke-checks as well and was really decisive when he went for one. Nice performance out of him.
-Can you imagine going into the NCAA Tournament with the ability to score 4 or 5 goals a night and having Summers, Burlon, Mitera, Kampfer, Langlais as your top five defensemen? Burlon is an absolute monster. I hope he hangs around for a little while because he's turning into a great player already. Summers has been dominant back on the blueline as well.