Saturday, January 30, 2010

MSU 4, Michigan 3...ERRRRR, MSU 3, Michigan 2

I can give you two reasons that Michigan isn't going to the NCAA Tournament this year and why they don't belong there anyway:

1) Our goaltending is horrifically inconsistent. Yes, as a whole Bryan Hogan played well tonight. You can't fault him on the first goal, and he gets a pass on the second goal because it sure looked like it hit Brandon Burlon's stick. Yes, he made some great stops when it was 0-0. Yes, he even made some great stops when the game was 3-0. But that third was the type of goal that's been killing us all year. 2-0 you've still got a chance. 3-0 is going to take a minor miracle--and a miracle that we almost got--to win on the road. It's not going to happen very often. The third one tonight was a shot that dribbled off his pads to the right, getting back to Tropp's stick just in time for him to slide it into the net before he went behind the goal. You can't leave that rebound. It's that type of goal--or the shorty against FSU last weekend--that are going to keep us out of the tournament. We're not winning CCHA's because there's no way in hell Hogan's keeping it together for four out of five games. No way.

2) 3 games, 3 goals, 3 points, 2 game-winners. Those are Captain Douchebag's numbers against the Wolverines this season. The fact that the Green Bay Packers let Brett Favre tear them up twice this year--including once in their house--told me everything I needed to know about the 2009 Packers. The fact that Michigan has let Corey Tropp beat them twice--once in their building, on a play against Steve Kampfer of all people--tells me all I need to know about this team. You can't let that guy do that to you twice. I don't care if Andrew Rowe beats you. I don't care if Dustin Gazley beats you. I don't care if Chris Summers shoots the goddamn puck into his own net six times or if Bryan Hogan Statue of Libertys the game winner. You can't let Corey Tropp beat you. And you definitely can't let him beat you twice.

Now, let's talk about the officiating. I'm not sure I have the words to describe what went on in the last three minutes of that hockey game. I think my buddy Kevin might have put it best in a text to me: "What is this clown show?"

I do know one thing: If you ever need a prime example of why Steve Piotrowski needs to lace up the skates again, it's the fact that the ref who is widely regarded as the best ref in the CCHA blew a call like that in a game as big as that.

But let's back up.

With just a couple of minutes to go in a 3-2 hockey game, Michigan State came down on a 2 on 1 that turned into a 3 on 2, after a Chad Langlais turnover in the MSU end. Rowe spun around Summers and sent a pass into the slot. Hogan made the initial save, but despite having it hit him in the chest, the rebound popped into the air and Hogan flailed to try and recover. Summers was in the crease and tried to bat the puck out of the air with his hand. As he was attempting to do that, Andrew Rowe came in and drilled him in the back. The puck hit the ice and Rowe jammed it in.

The official right on the play--Mark Wilkens--pointed goal. Chris Summers had his arms out asking for a hitting from behind call even before he stopped sliding. He immediately got up and went bonkers on Wilkens.

They go to the replay (at least I think they did....maybe the four blind mice just got together and "replayed it in their heads") and there doesn't appear to be anything to overturn the goal on. At best you're hoping they rule the puck left the crease so Rowe didn't have a right to be there anymore, or something. Yes it was a penalty, no the goal shouldn't count, but the ref on the ice called it a goal. There's no goalie interference to overturn it.

They waived it off. Not only did they waive it off, they gave Rowe a penalty! I would love to hear the explanation for that one. Surely we're going to get some line of bull that the back referee--Shegos--was trying to make a call and it just got overlooked. Spath's article indicates that Shegos blew it dead from center ice. And if that's the case, fine.

(This assumes they looked at the replay) But then why look at the replay? To determine if the puck was in before the call? It couldn't have been. They may be saying Shegos blew it dead at center. I can't say I ever heard a whistle. At this point, it sure looks like the CCHA just went to replay, overturned a goal, and assessed a penalty.

(If they didn't go to review) If they didn't go to review, then what took so long? Either someone blew it dead or they didn't. This isn't the NFL. You don't get to discuss plays with the whole crew and then retroactively make a penalty call--even if it ended up being the correct one.

Let's be perfectly clear. They got the call right. Rowe deserved a penalty and the goal shouldn't have counted. I just don't have the foggiest clue how they justify making that call after either going to the replay or discussing it amongst themselves. Either someone made the call live or they didn't. If they did, great. If they didn't, they're all blind, but it should still be a goal.

So now Michigan has a man-advantage with just over two minutes to go and a chance to pull off a huge comeback on the road. Just after the penalty expired, Chris Brown was standing in the slot. The puck hit him and bounced down, through the legs of Drew Palmisano, and into the net. Like, straight through the legs of Palmisano. We're not talking pinballing. We're not talking the puck died between his legs but was still loose and someone jammed it in. It hit Chris Brown, bounced down, went right through Palmisano into the net.

Shegos somehow missed this and blew the play dead within milliseconds of the puck going underneath Palmisano. The whistle may not have gone until the puck was in the net (I'm not sure), but thanks to the most retarded rule in sports--the play is dead when it's dead in the referee's mind, not when he blows the whistle--you can't review it.

That's a missed call. You can see from the behind-the-net cam that the puck was never even remotely covered. And the guy who is widely considered the best ref in the conference--as if that's not like saying someone is the prettiest ugly girl (by the way, there were options in the crowd tonight....for as many good-looking girls as there are supposed to be at Michigan State, they must have found every fug in the bunch during the crowd shots tonight....holy buckets)--completely blew it.

I'll say this once again, Miami fan: You can bitch all you want to about Matt Shegos officiating Michigan games even though he's a Michigan alum. We'd gladly ban him from doing our games as well. You can't waive the "favoritism" banner around ever again when you see something like that. That blown call might have put the final nail in our tournament chances. (Though to be fair, that just gets us to OT.)

It's too much, especially on the day the NFL said "Oh, yeah, about that NFC Championship? Yeah, we completely effed that one up." I'm sick of games getting decided this way. I'm sick of quick whistles (I'm thinking of Scott Hansen yet again, thank you Shegos), I'm sick of kicked-in pucks counting, I'm sick of good goals not counting.

This one was big. If Michigan comes back and wins that game, they've got a chance to flip the comparison with Michigan State tomorrow and it's a HUGE boost to the tournament chances. We're running out of chances, but we probably don't belong in The Dance anyway.

What else can you really say? Some quick hitters:

-The power play put in a couple, but one goal was a two-minute 5 on 3 and the other was kind of off a nothing play. They passed the puck well on a couple of PPs, but never had a lot of chances and there were at least 3 or 4 of those power play opportunities that completely went by the wayside without a hint of a scoring chance. Up until our fifth power play chance, I don't think we had one that you could even consider decent. Even the four minutes we had left on the five-minute major after the first goal...we didn't get a whole lot going and that was a chance to really turn the game.

-Hogan did make some very good stops in the first half of the game. That third goal was just a head-scratcher though.

-A few silly penalties when we certainly didn't need them. Greg Pateryn took a needless one about 30 seconds after MSU killed off a Michigan power play, so you know they're looking anyway. Dumb penalties by Tristin Llewellyn got Pateryn into the lineup. You don't want to find yourself back in the press box because of the same thing. Kampfer took a dumb late run at somebody in the third period. Unless it's Corey Tropp you have to be smarter. He didn't even get his money's worth. It was a cheap call, but you can't give them the opportunity to call it, especially when they've shown they're calling everything.

-Over half the game was spent with one team on the man advantage. That's way too much. Michigan had 19:23 in power play time. MSU had 13:20. Aside from the Gazley/Treais kerfuffle, I didn't even think it was an overly chippy game. Definitely not one that warranted 33 minutes in power play time, which would've been 36 without penalties ending on power play goals. You're talking almost TWO FULL PERIODS of man advantages in that game. I sure am glad we have the two ref system, so they can call literally everything but miss the most obvious call of the game: that Drew Palmisano never covered that puck.

-The goal on the 5 on 3 was quite nice. Moffie at the left point down to Lynch on the left wing. He centers for Rust, who one-touches it to Hagelin back-door for the goal. That's the way to do it when you've got two extra men.

-A lot of odd-man rushes. And a lot of odd-man rushes both ways.

I really don't know what the hell else to say. The officiating in this league is a complete joke, and it's a complete joke that Corey Tropp's able to touch the puck without getting drilled into next week, let alone the fact that he's scored two game-winners on the Wolverines this year.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

10 Things to Know About Michigan State

First off, I have to give some pub to a great new college hockey site that was the brainchild of Bob Miller and Mike Spath from The Wolverine. It's called College Hockey 24/7 and they've been pumping out some really great articles since the site launched.

On the front page right now is a story about NTDP U-17 defenseman Michael Paliotta, who has Michigan in his final four along with BC, Notre Dame, and Harvard.

They just came out with some rankings of the current recruiting classes and have the Wolverines at #2, behind Minnesota.

It's another great addition to the college hockey world.

Michigan takes on Michigan State this weekend. They'll play at Munn (despite the fact that it was recently destroyed by UA's flying polar bear) Friday night before heading to the Joe for Saturday's game. The game tomorrow will air on the Big Ten Network, while Saturday's game is on FSN Detroit.

Now for 10 things to know about the Spartans from Michigan State.

1) Their new logo sucks.

2) They come into this weekend in second place in the CCHA (though with Ferris's games in hand, they're more likely in third place) with a record of 16-8-4 (11-5-4-1 in conference). They currently site 10 points ahead of the Wolverines, though Michigan has two games in hand. With non-shootout wins being worth three points in the new-fangled CCHA, if Michigan sweeps this weekend, they're in prime position to pass the Spartans in the standings. MSU is also teetering very close to the bubble. They're 13th in the PWR right now. Two wins for Michigan this weekend would be absolutely huge for our chances to steal a PWR point from the Spartans. As it stands right now, a sweep would flip that comparison.

3) MSU has been up and down at times. They started off 9-2-2, then lost four out of five. They then ripped off five straight wins, but have only won one of their last five (a second game they won in a shootout). MSU is just 3-6-3 against teams under consideration.

4) One thing they have been doing a lot of lately is scoring goals. They went through a stretch beginning with the second Michigan game where they only scored 11 goals in 7 games, but since then they've scored 43 in their last ten contests (and that doesn't count the 8 they scored on the NTDP in an exhibition game). On the other hand, they've given up 18 in their last five after giving up just 19 in their 9 games before that.

5) Captain Douchebag Corey Tropp hasn't really cooled down after his hot start. While he hasn't scored a goal in the last seven games, he hasn't been held off the scoresheet in consecutive games all year and still has 8 points in the seven games he's gone goalless. He leads the team with 17-19--36 in 28 games, good for 17th in points per game nationally. JM Liles is the only Spartan to hit 50 points since the 2000-2001 season (and he had exactly 50). Tropp will have a chance. If, you know, he can resist the urge to slash someone in the neck this weekend.

6) Freshman Derek Grant (10-17--27) and Andrew Rowe each have double-digit goals. After a dismal sophomore season, Jeff Petry has 21 points and his +/- is 36 points higher than it was a year ago (+5 vs. -31). Tropp and Grant each have six power play tallies.

7) Drew Palmisano (HE'S FROM ANN ARBOR, HEY DID YOU KNOW HE'S FROM ANN ARBOR?!!!) has played 22 games this year and is 12-7-3 with a 2.17/.927. He also leads the team in Fox Sports Detroit features. He's been chased a couple of times this year (Wisconsin and Ohio State) but has overall been very solid, giving up 2 or fewer in 13 of his 20 starts. In four of his seven losses, he's made 30+ saves. He's 12th in GAA and 8th in save percentage.

8) The Spartans rank 12th nationally in goals per game at 3.29. They have the #11 defense in the country, giving up 2.39 goals per contest. Kind of interesting: Their goal differential (per game) is just .01 ahead of the Wolverines.

9) They're middle of the pack in terms of penalty minutes, taking 14.7 minutes per game, though only four teams have been shorthanded more times. (Keep in mind that no team in the country has played more games than the Spartans.) They have a very middle of the pack penalty kill at 82.8%. They're also middle of the pack on the power play, at 18.5%.

10) Top Spartan Killers: Chris Summers (13 points in 17 games), Louie Caporusso (8 points in 11 games), and David Wohlberg (7 points in 5 games). Bryan Hogan is 5-2-0 against the Spartans with a 2.15/.903.

Michigan State's top performers against Michigan have been Andrew Rowe (7 points in 7 games) and Dustin Gazley (6 points in 11 games). Those are the only two players with multiple goals against the Wolverines. Jeff Petry is -7 against Michigan in 11 games. Drew Palmisano--who I'll have you know is from Ann Arbor--is 2-1-0 with a 2.55/.925.

The last time MSU won 3 in a row in the series was in the 2000-01 season. They haven't won 4 in a row since the 97-98 season, when Michigan ended up winning the National Championship.

One thing non Michigan/MSU related: This fight didn't go well for Eric Nystrom. I'm not sure I've ever seen someone get clubbed in the head with their own helmet before.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Outdoor Game at Michigan Stadium is On!

Just a couple of weeks after some comments by Michigan State cast some doubt on if the outdoor game between the Wolverines and Spartans would actually happen, it sounds like the game is on for good.

There will be hockey played at Michigan Stadium on December 11, 2010 at 3 pm. It will be awesome.

Also according to the article, Wisconsin has sold 42,000 tickets for the upcoming Culver's Camp Randall Hockey Classic and they expect to have the lower bowl sold out for the game.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Killing Our Own Power Plays?

During my recap of the Ferris State game, I mentioned that it seems like Michigan takes an awful lot of penalties while they have a man advantage. In Saturday's game, the Wolverines cost themselves 1:51, 1:29, and 1:28 in power play time due to taking quick penalties after they had been given a man-advantage.

I decided to figure out how many times we've killed off our own power play and see how many goals it has cost us over the course of the season thus far. I'm not a math major, so be kind if I say anything stupid.

What I found is that we have had 151 power plays, accounting for 231 minutes and 26 seconds with the man advantage. We have scored 30 PPGs. That works out to a goal every 7 minutes and 43 seconds of power play time.

On 21 occasions we have taken a penalty to wipe out a power play chance prematurely, which accounts for 25 minutes and 9 seconds of lost power play time. That means over the course of the season, the math says that we've cost ourselves about 3 1/4 goals.

That doesn't actually seem like very many, but take into account the games where we really killed ourselves:
-Against BU, we ended 3 of our own power plays, costing ourselves a whopping 5:57 in power play time. We lost 3-2.
-Against FSU, we ended 3 of our own power plays, costing ourselves 4:48 in power play time. We lost 3-2.
-Against OSU, we cost ourselves 1:41 in power play time. We lost 5-3, but the 5th goal was an empty-netter.

That's 12 minutes and 26 seconds in those three games alone. All one-goal losses (essentially). Based on our season-average (granted our PP sucked at the start of the year), you would expect about 1.6 goals in that amount of power play time. It would be expected that one or two of those losses could have ended differently, minus the penalties when we were up a man. In a season where we're going to be fighting tooth and nail for a tournament slot, that's big.

As for context, I don't really know what it means. I didn't run the numbers to see if our opponents have been comparable, or if this is similar to previous years' totals. It's far too late at night for that. I was just curious to see what it could have meant to this year's team.

Edit: Yay for doing math well at 1 am! A commenter pointed out that I didn't factor in that even with blowing a power play, we could still score even-strength. Based on re-running the numbers quickly (and including short-handed time in our points per minute) we've cost ourselves about 2.3 goals over the course of the season instead of 3.25, and in the three games I mentioned, you would expect 1.1 goals, not 1.6. Those numbers are still a tick high because I kept the short-handed time in there.

So, really, it seems like it's more of an annoyance for the fans (and probably Red) than a true difference-maker, though if it could have swung a game against a team like Ferris, that could have been big for our chances. I still think it's interesting to see that we've blown over a period's worth of time with the man advantage over the course of the season.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Michigan 2, FSU 0 - FSU 3, Michigan 2

Well if that wasn't a microcosm of the season, I don't know what was.

Friday night was a dominant performance by the Maize and Blue, showing the talent level of this team and performing the way that was expected coming into the season.

Saturday was a throwback to the first half of the season: Dumb penalties, turnovers, missed opportunities, shaky goaltending...

First, Friday night:
Friday's game was a stellar performance. The defense was great pretty much all night. Hogan didn't have to stand on his head, but was very solid all night (including a great save off a Michigan turnover in the second period) and he didn't have any "avert your eyes" moments, which is a win. Luke freaking Glendening had a pair of goals--both great wristers up over Pat Nagle's glove.

I thought Kampfer was really solid all game. He had a couple of beautiful pass break-ups, including one very early on in the game that probably saved a goal.

Ben Winnett had a lot of jump out there. That was more than I've noticed him in a long time. I kind of like the lines we're putting out there.

A couple of weeks ago, I lamented the fact that I hadn't seen us use anyone in the Tomas Holmstrom role on the power play. At least on one occasion, Chris Brown went right to the net and parked himself there as Kampfer got a shot through. I'd like to see more of that. Brown is a big boy and he's hard to move.

I thought David Wohlberg looked pretty good all weekend as well. Hopefully he's getting healthy and will be back to playing the way he did last year. That would be a big boost.

The key to the game was when Michigan killed off a two-minute 5-on-3 chance for the Bulldogs. That kill was a thing of beauty. Lynch brought it into the FSU zone, had nothing, and passed it back to a defenseman down in the Michigan end to kill some time. Hagelin had the puck in his own zone with no FSU pressure so he took a lap around the zone before icing it. Hagelin also would've sprung Rust on a possible breakaway but Rust got hauled down. You don't have to ask if they called it.

Michigan's first goal was set up by some tic-tac-toe passing. Wohlberg brought the puck down the middle of the ice and slid it to Caporusso on the left-wing. Cappy found Glendening streaking down the right side and Luke uncorked a wrister up over Nagle's glove.

Not even five minutes later, the Wolverines took a shot that was blocked. The carom came right to Glendening who had almost a carbon-copy of his previous shot into the net.

Ferris nearly got back within one on what looked to be a nothing play. Their guy chipped a puck up over a diving Chad Langlais and found a teammate breaking in. Hogan went for the poke-check, which forced a shot. It rang off the bar and Michigan maintained their two goal lead.

Langlais then had his chance from about 40 feet out. He beat Nagle cleanly but also caught iron.

Actually not all that much happened in the third period. Glendening had a chance for the hat trick when Nagle was on the bench for the extra man, but his shot was blocked by a defenseman. "Bet-ter Goal-ie" was the chant from the crowd. Niiiice.

Then came Saturday (an abbreviated recap since Blogger ate my first one...awesome):
Nothing much happened out of the gate, until Ferris put a harmless looking wrist shot on net from about 60 feet out that somehow beat Hogan far side. That goal might have been worse than the one he gave up against Air Force. Not the type of goal you want to give up to a team that had shown no semblance of an offense the entire weekend thusfar.

The teams swapped a bunch of power plays and nothing much came of any of them, save for one shot that a guy missed on where Hogan would have had about a 2% chance of stopping it.

There was an amusing sequence of events early in the second period for those of us watching on TV:
-Ferris shot wide by a couple of feet but the goal judge turned the light on. The horn sounded in the arena as well.
-Matt Shepard, the play-by-play man, cracked a couple of good-natured jokes at the goal judge's expense and they zoomed in on the goal judge sitting in his box of shame.
-Not two minutes later, the Wolverines broke in and Wohlberg hit the post. Shepard yelled "SCOOOOOOORES!!!!" and after an awkward silence said, "They're going to have to review that one."
-After a commercial break, they showed the replay which clearly showed the puck not going in. Shepard cracked, "Alright, I'll call myself out for that one."
Pretty great moment in karma right there, but not as great as this old classic:

A few minutes later, however, Wohlberg actually did score. On a power play, Treais's cross-crease pass got partially broken up, but it had enough steam to get to Wohlberg and he lifted it up over Nagle.

Kampfer then broke in and Hagelin hit him with a pass. Billins got back to tie up Kampfer or he would have had an easy tap in. Instead, the puck glanced off the post.

Hogan made a couple of huge saves in the second period. One was a stop on Alexander after he broke in around Burlon. He had a couple of biggies on a flurry at the end of the period as well.

Matt Case scored a gorgeous goal to put Ferris up 2-1. Ben Winnett was going to take possession off a defensive-zone faceoff, but got hauled down. The puck slid out to the point. Winnett recovered to get out on Case, but Case absolutely walked him with a beautiful move. He stepped into the slot and fired one past a screened Hogan. Hogan wanted a goalie interference call. I didn't have a problem with the goal standing, but it was absolutely absurd that there was no trip call on the faceoff when Winnett got taken down. The refs called everything last night and to miss a call like that? Good ole McInchak.

Summers started the third period by absolutely CRANKING a Bulldog who had his head down. Michigan then came in and I'm really not sure how Chris Brown missed.

Brandon Burlon made a beautiful play to break up a Ferris 2-on-1. He baited the guy into passing the puck and then knocked the pass away. Can't play it any better than that.

After a second crease violation in thirty seconds on Ferris, the rink mic caught a fan yelling "You're TERRIBLE!" at one of the referees. They showed a replay and the guy never went near the crease. He skated by Hogan, who threw a shoulder into him, and the ref blew it dead. Classic.

Zach Redmond put one off the bar and then Michigan came down on a 2 on 1, and Nagle made a nice play.

Michigan then tied the game at 2 after a Redmond penalty. Wohlberg fed Lebler in the slot and Lebler tipped a puck (GORGEOUS tip) by Nagle.

True to form, McInchak called a penalty on us not 15 seconds later, with under 1:30 to go in the game. Kampfer stood up his man who was rushing the puck, the ref looking right at it let it go, but DickInchak (out at center ice) blew it dead.

With about thirty seconds left, Summers had a horrifically bad turnover when trying to break the puck out and Michigan was never able to clear again. Ferris centered one for Redmond and he put a shot through Hogan's 5-hole from the high slot. Ugh. Don't get beat 5-hole after we just tied the game, please.

That did it, and Michigan fell 3-2.

Other thoughts:
STOP DOING THAT!It seems like Michigan has had a penchant for taking penalties when they are on the power play. It happened three times last night. If you're a 20% power play and you lose 1:51, 1:29 and 1:28 in power play time, there's a pretty decent chance that you're costing yourself a goal. I'm not doing the math, but it seems like it must be upwards of a 50% chance that you're taking a goal off the scoreboard by not playing disciplined hockey.

JMFJ vs. Lombardi:By now you've probably heard about Dean Lombardi's comments about Jack Johnson and Red Berenson, but in case you haven't, Lombardi was giving an interview about JMFJ and made the following comments about Jack and the Michigan program:
"Michigan is the worst."
"Red Berenson doesn't coach."
"[Jack] was an awful hockey player."
That's just the tip of the iceberg. It's worth reading.

As expected, Red didn't comment and laughed off the question. Jack, on the other hand? You had to know he wasn't happy. He fired back at his GM, citing the fact that Michigan has put more guys into the NHL than any other school and defending his former head coach. My favorite quote:
For my general manager to rip me as a person and criticize me as a person and as a player and call me an awful hockey player is irresponsible and unprofessional.
Kill Jack, Kill! God I love that kid.

Lombardi has since tried to say that the quotes were taken out of context and were meant as background and not meant to be published. He ripped the blogger for posting it. The funny thing is that whether or not the quotes were meant to be published, he said them. And either way it means he's got a completely ignorant opinion of one of the great coaches--and great men--in the history of hockey. And he possibly alienated one of his up and coming stars.

Johnson was asked if Lombardi's quotes damaged his relationship with the GM. Johnson responded, "I don't know", which probably means yes.

Kids Doing Stupid Things...errr Allegedly:At the start of the season, Michigan had 5 players committed from the NTDP. Jack Campbell de-committed, taking the total to 4. Now Jacob Fallon has left the team after an alleged sexual harassment incident at his high school. Two other future Wolverines--Jon Merrill and Kevin Clare--are suspended until the end of the month.

There was speculation that Fallon would join the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, killing his college eligibility, but he has joined the Indiana Ice of the USHL so he's still eligible to come to Michigan.

Skate at Camp Randall:
If you'll be arriving in Madison early for the Camp Randall Hockey Classic, there is an open skate at the outdoor rink on Friday night. There will be four 30-minute sessions, at 7:00, 7:30, 8:30, and 9:00. It's free, but you have to have a ticket to get in. Those tickets go on sale tomorrow morning at 8:30 CST. There's a max of four per person. Note that there is no skate rental available.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

WMU Wrapup, 10 Things to Know About Alaska

Hey! We swept a series, and I went another week without writing.

From the sound of it, the game at Lawson was the type of game that we've lost this year: Outshoot the hell out of the opponent, give up a bad goal or two (another goal from behind the net?), but this time we actually put the puck in the net.

The best part? Thank my lucky stars, we scored four--four--power play goals....ah ah ah. We've actually scored a PPG in 11 of the last 12 games. That stat kind of shocks me. Those are the types of things you don't realize when you never get to catch a game anymore....

Where the hell did Lindsey Sparks come from? Kid has 3-2--5 in the last three games, and is seeing some power play time. The downside to that? His 3-3--6 in 10 games this year puts him tied with Lynch in points and ahead of Treais. Lynch actually has five points in his last three games as well, after having just one point the rest of the season.

Another guy who has been coming on as of late: Lee Moffie. He's been in the lineup six straight games and has 4 points.

No one is hotter, though, than Carl Hagelin. He has points in four straight games and 11 of the last 12 contests. Over the past four games he has a 3-6--9 line.

The wins over Western Michigan vaulted Michigan up to 7th in the CCHA standings. If they were to win both of their games in hand on OSU, LSSU, Alaska, and FYS, believe it or not, they'd be in a 4th-place tie, six points back of the Spartans for third. There's still a long way to go to get back into the race for a first-round bye (let alone the race to make the NCAAs) but at least we're breathing.

The next three weeks provide a great opportunity to make a move. Michigan will take on fourth-place Alaska, first-place Ferris State, and third-place Michigan State back-to-back-to-back. Put together a good stretch and that not only helps in the CCHA, but it helps the ole tournament resume. I still don't think we're making the tournament, but the opportunity is there to get back in the mix.

Alaska is up first. They come into Yost for a pair of games. Friday night's game will air on FSN+, which is 448 on Dish Network and 664 on DirecTV. Fox Sports Arizona is also televising the game, making them more useful than the Big Ten Network. Saturday's game is on Comcast 900.

1) After a 5-0-1 start, Alaska is 10-6-4 on the year (7-6-3-3 in the CCHA). They've won just two of their last eight, and haven't swept a series since they beat Ferris State twice over Halloween. Over that time, they've lost to BGSU, LSSU, Notre Dame, UNO twice and Western, along with tying 10th-place NMU twice. They appear to be as good at losing to bad teams as we are!

2) The teams have met once this year, in the season opener. Alaska won the game 2-0, despite almost being doubled-up in shots.

3) Freshman Andy Taranto leads the way with a 9-15--24 line in 20 games. He ranks second in the nation in points per game by a freshman. Dion Knelsen has 10 goals to lead the team.

4) Goalie Scott Greenham has played every minute for the Nanooks, putting up a 2.31/.914. He's not nearly as hot as he was early on in the season. He gave up 2+ goals just one time in the first eight games of the year. In the last 12 games, he's given up two or fewer just four times--though two of those were in his last two appearances, where he made 75 saves.

5) Greenham ranks 19th in the country in goals against, one spot ahead of our own Bryan Hogan. He's 23rd in save percentage.

6) The Nanook offense is 34th in the country in goals per game (2.90). They have the #11 defense in the country, however. The Wolverines are 23rd and 9th, respectively.

7) This really shocks me: Alaska is the least penalized team in the country, at just 8.6 minutes per game. There is a 2 PIM/game spread from 10th to 25th (16.6 to 14.6), 25th to 43rd (14.6 to 12.6), 43rd to 57th (12.6 to 10.6), and 57th to 58th (10.6 to Alaska's 8.6). Somewhere Packer fans are screaming about a Nanook conspiracy.

8) For a team that doesn't have much of an offense, their power play is quite good. The Nanooks rank 14th in the country in power play percentage at 21.6%. They've scored 22 of their 58 goals with the man advantage. They're 19th in PK at 83.8%. They have not scored a short-handed goal, and they have not given up a short-handed goal. For as big of a disaster as our power play was at the start of the year, Michigan is up to #22 nationally. 20.2% really isn't all that bad.

9) It probably speaks to the usual quality of the UA goaltending, but the Wolverines don't really have any players that have torn up Alaska in their careers. Louie Caporusso leads with a 2-3--5 line in six games. Wohlberg is the only other player with multiple goals. Hogan is 2-1-0 with a 1.67/.922. He has never faced the Nanooks in Ann Arbor.

10) The Nanooks have never beaten Michigan in back-to-back games, and have never won twice in a three-game span in the series. Keep in mind that they won the most recent meeting. Only one of the last 22 meetings has been decided by a single goal. Only five of the 45 games in the history of the series have been decided by one goal. Michigan has won all five of those games. The teams have never tied and have never gone into overtime.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Fast Facts About WMU

Probably not writing enough to call this a true "10 Things to Know" so here are some fast facts to get you ready for the series against WMU this weekend:
-WMU is 6-10-4 on the season and 2-9-3-1 in the CCHA, which means, yikes!, they're actually behind us in the standings!
-They started the year 4-0-0, which means they've won just two of their last sixteen.
-They've been shut-out in three of their last four, including a 0-0 tie against Bemidji.
-Leading scorer is JJ Crew, with 7-6--13. Greg Squires has 1-12--13.
-Riley Gill gets most of the work in net and he's still pretty darn good: He's 5-7-3 on the season but he has a 2.38/.929.
-Offense is #54 out of 59, at 2.10 goals per game. Only BGSU, Tech, American, and "The Yukon"--as my brother would say--are worse.
-Defense is 19th at 2.60 goals per game.
-Power Play: 11.3%...toward the bottom
-Penalty Kill: 82.2%, which is middle of the pack
-Michigan has actually won 7 in a row at Lawson.
-After this weekend, there is only one more game that won't be televised.
-It looks like the video for both games this weekend will be PPV. Friday's game is on WMU's website, Saturday on, which is lame since we used to get those games for free and I've heard less than glowing reviews of BTN's online coverage. If you're not going to actually, ya know, put games on TV, at least don't **** up our free live feeds, huh?
-Caporusso, Hagelin, and Rust all average a point per game or better against WMU. Hogan is 3-0-0 with a 1.07/.945 against the Broncos.

Need. Six. Points.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Having a Seat Over There: Boo Nieves to Michigan

Chris Heisenberg is reporting that Cristoval "Boo" Nieves committed to Michigan. He's the one that I mentioned a little further down the page. He's a 94 birthday who will enter school in the fall of 2012.

USHR said the following about him after the Select 15 Player Development Camp in July:
Up front, we liked Cristoval “Boo” Nieves, who we saw as a significant notch above any other forward in camp. Nieves will be playing with the Syracuse Nationals (former Syracuse Stars) midget minor squad in the upcoming season. He’s 6’2”, dynamic, skilled, and is a strong, powerful skater. Didn’t score much here, but no matter -- he has the earmarks of a future high-round NHL draft pick. Michigan offered him recently and that appears to be where he wishes to attend college.

He's listed as 6'1" 185. His team, the Syracuse Nationals, has won quite a few tournaments this season.

Elsewhere, Lucas Lessio had a 2-3--5 line in 6 games as Ontario took Silver at World Under 17s.

Here's a feature about Lessio that St. Mike's put up on Youtube.

Fellow 2011 recruit Alex Guptill (6'3", 183!) has been going bonkers since he got traded from Brampton to Orangeville. He has an 8-11--19 line in 10 games since the trade (and only three of those points have come on the power play), including 13 points and a +9 rating in his last five games. He's already 9th on the team in scoring and he's played 10 out of a possible 39 games.

Annnnnnd that kid who was supposed to come play goal for Michigan next year just back-stopped the Americans to the World Junior Championship. Le sigh.

Friday, January 01, 2010

JMFJ, Komisarek on US Olympic Team

More about the GLI in a little bit, but I just wanted to make a quick post to congratulate JMFJ and Mike Komisarek for being named to the US Olympic Team. 29% of the defense corps for the USA played at the University of Michigan. That's pretty cool.