Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Catching Up

Wolverines on the Move
Wolverines! Get your Wolverines!

The NHL's trading deadline was today and Wolverines dominated the landscape. Of the roughly 60 players moved over the past couple of days, seven were current or former Michigan players.

Steve Kampfer's rights were traded from Anaheim to Boston, where he would be reunited with Matt Hunwick.

Aaron Palushaj was traded from St. Louis to Montreal, where he could once again play with Max Pacioretty.

Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik were both traded, and will be in separate organizations for the first time in seven or eight years. Porter will join former linemate TJ Hensick in Colorado's organization and Chad Kolarik will be off to Columbus.

Kolarik won't be the only Wolverine to join the Blue Jackets organization, however, as Matt Rust was also traded to the BJs.

Aaron Ward moved from Boston to Anaheim, and *anny Richmon* was tra*e* back to the Win*y City and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Same ****, Different Week
As you may have noticed, I haven't written anything about the Notre Dame series. I haven't watched the games and I honestly don't feel the need to. I'll probably flip through the Thursday night tilt at some point to see Hunwick's shutout, but as far as Saturday goes, why spend time watching the same exact game that I've seen fifteen times this year already?

I'm pretty sure I would have had a seizure during the second period on Friday when we went through this stretch of penalties:

ND: Kissel, slashing, 2:05
Mich: Moffie, tripping, 2:17

ND: Lorenz, roughing, 9:12
Mich: Lebler, hooking, 9:17

ND: Deeth, roughing, 15:32
Mich: Lynch, high sticking, 15:37

ND: Kissel, tripping, 17:45
Mich: Langlais, hooking, 19:35

That's four power plays that we wiped out by penalties of our own, which took away almost six minutes of power play time. That's six minutes of power play time in a period where we gave up four unanswered goals.

Notre Dame scored five seconds after Moffie's penalty, no doubt off a faceoff in our end thanks to Moffie's penalty. Instead of a 20% chance (or so) to take a 3-goal lead and a stranglehold on the game, Notre Dame gets a faceoff in our end and it's a 2-1 game.

So yet another close game where we did a better job of killing our own power plays than the other team did. How is this still happening game after game? We really have to be the dumbest team in the country. Granted I haven't compared it to past seasons or other teams in the nation, but this can't possibly be normal, right?

The big news to come out of the weekend, however, was the injury to Bryan Hogan. He was injured about 10 minutes in to the Thursday night tilt and Shawn Hunwick pitched a shutout in relief and was the #1 star. Saturday night he got his first career start and gave up five on 25 shots in the loss.

According to Red Berenson, it's about 90% that Hunwick will get the starts this weekend against LSSU in our first round playoff series. Who knows, maybe the team rallies around him and gets their heads out of their butts for more than one game at a time. Or maybe they pull the same crap they have all year and we lose a home series to a team that has scored 0 or 1 goal in 9 of their last 11 games, and been outscored 38-13 in the process. Not coincidentally, they've won two of their last 11 (one in a shootout).

Oh. Yeah. And we had another crucial video review go against us and--while the refs probably got it right based on the angle they had--it was still probably a goal that should have counted. When was the last time one of these reviews or quick whistles went our way when it shouldn't have? The game against FYS when the puck went through the net?

Silver Medal for Jack
Jack Johnson won a silver medal. I thought he played pretty well overall in the Olympics. He didn't have much to speak of in terms of stats, but he logged quite a bit of ice time and had some ridiculous rushes up the ice. The goal he assisted on was a ridiculous rush and he beat two guys before putting a shot on net that deflected over to a teammate, who batted it out of the air and in. In the gold medal game, he had another rush in the third period where I have no idea how they didn't end up scoring. Parise had a great chance on the rebound, but it didn't go. It was great to see that kid playing again.

Let's talk about the NHL
There's really a debate about if it's a good idea to shut the NHL down for two weeks in order to participate in the Olympics in 2014? I get that the ratings aren't that high if it's US/Russia for the gold medal. I get that the 2014 games are in Russia and all the good stuff will be on tape delay. I get that most of the people who watched US/Canada aren't going to tune in to your average Detroit/Columbus game.

That being said, you had 27.6 million people watching the gold medal game. Even the initial game between the countries, which was on cable up against ice dancing, drew a really solid rating.

I have to believe most of the players are in favor of the NHLers in the Olympics--the guys who play get to play in the freaking Olympics and the guys who don't get to have a break for a couple of weeks before the playoff run. The fans love it because it's the best hockey you're going to see. It's an all-star game where the players care. And even though the NHL isn't operating for a couple of weeks, it's one of the few times when HOCKEY can steal the spotlight.

Why would you want to do anything that actually draws huge ratings? Clearly it would be far better to keep slogging through the regular season and having games on Versus that draw minuscule ratings. Let's put it in perspective: The gold medal game drew 42.6 times more people than game four of the Pittsburgh/Washington series last year. (A series with arguably the three best forwards in the game.) That's a lot of eyes on the best possible product hockey has to offer. Hard to see how that's a bad thing.

How about some updates on commits and targets?
Mac Bennett and Derek DeBlois's Cedar Rapids Roughriders currently sit in second place in the USHL's Eastern Division, well behind first place Green Bay. They're one point behind Fargo for third in the league. DeBlois is sixth on the team in scoring with a 10-19--29 line in 43 games. He's also +13 on the season, good for third on the team.

Bennett is 8th in scoring and second amongst defensemen with an 8-12--20 line in 41 games. He's fourth on the team--and tops amongst defensemen--with a +11 rating.

Jacob Fallon's Indiana Ice is three points behind Cedar Rapids in the East. Fallon has a 1-5--6 line in 13 games since joining the Ice. He's -4.

Luke Moffatt has 5-8--13 in 22 USHL games. Jon Merrill has 1-5--6 in 16 games in the league. Kevin Clare has 2-3--5 in 16 games.

Potential goaltending prospect Jeff Teglia is 26-10-2 for the Omaha Lancers with 4 shutouts, a 2.27 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. He's second in the league in goals against and tops in save percentage.

Alex Guptill's Orangeville Crushers were eliminated in the first round of the CCHL playoffs. Guptill only played two of the playoff games and had a 0-1--1 line. He had 13-13--26 in 19 games after getting traded to Orangeville. It was a disappointing exit, given that they had beaten their opponent in all four regular season contests.

Lucas Lessio ended the regular season with 30-42--72 in 41 regular season games for the St. Michael's Buzzers. He had three assists in five playoff games, as St. Michael's was eliminated 4-1 by Newmarket.

I can't find a whole heckuva lot about Boo Nieves, except that he had 4-4--8 in 7 games at the Toronto Marlboro's Holiday Classic Tournament.

Lastly, potential goalie prospect Joel Vienneau finished the regular season 27-4-1-2 for the Kingston Vees. He had a 2.16/.928 and three shutouts. In the playoffs, the Vees won their first round series 4-1. Vienneau had two shutouts in the series and currently has a 1.80/.937 in the postseason. They will take on the Trenton Golden Hawks in a second round series that begins Sunday. The defending champs finished 24 points ahead of Trenton in the regular season, so they will have home ice.

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