Monday, January 17, 2011

A Statement Sweep

When I was doing the breakdown of this past weekend's games, I had a hard time figuring out if we had more in our favor or going against us on Friday night. We had the positives of playing at home, our success against Pat Nagle, and the fact that we've done really well against FSU at Yost in the past going up against our abysmal Friday record, Ferris's solid record on the first night of a series, and Zach Redmond against our track record of defending offensive defensemen.

Wouldn't you know it. Early in the second period, we were down 2-0 and a defenseman (Chad Billins) had himself a power play goal. Positively shocking, I know. But Michigan rebounded. Lee Moffie slid one through off a Matt Rust face-off win just a couple of minutes after Billins made it 2-0 and it was game on. Burlon was able to slip one through as well and it was a new hockey game. Late in the second period, Hagelin worked his butt off and was able to feed Chris Brown in the slot for what would be the game-winner. Hunwick made 29 saves in the victory.

The next night was some high-quality Saturday Michigan hockey. The Wolverines got out to a 2-0 lead behind goals from Hagelin and Wohlberg 16 seconds apart, stunning the crowd at Ewigleben. I had a feeling the Wohlberg goal was coming a few seconds before it happened, courtesy of the "AWWW COME ON!!!!!!!!" yelled by the FSU fan who was right by the radio mic.

Lee Moffie added his second of the weekend en route to CCHA Defenseman of the Week honors. Vaughan added his eighth of the year short-handed in the second period, which chased Pat Nagle from the net. After Filinger made it 4-1 in the early third period, Derek DeBlois notched his first career goal and David Wohlberg scored on a 5-on-3.

Hopefully we'll look back on this as a statement weekend. Playing a home-and-home against a team right behind us in the standings, with our "home" part of the weekend on the night where we've typically struggled, Michigan came from behind to win one night and then thumped the #1 defensive team in the country the next night.

Putting up 8 goals on a team that gives up under two a night is no small feat. Rendering Zach Redmond completely ineffective when you're a team that has struggled to defense the points is even better. Redmond was -5 on the weekend with no points and 4 shots on goal.

The Hagelin, Rust, and Brown were pretty great this weekend. Rust won 14 of 18 faceoffs in the win on Friday night and assisted on the first goal of both contests. Hagelin had the effort-play of the game, which led to Chris Brown's game-winner, and kicked things off Saturday.

Moffie, of course, had a 2-1--3 line on the weekend and as I mentioned was CCHA Defenseman of the Week. Not a bad weekend, considering that it wasn't too long ago that he had completely fallen out of favor.

I actually thought the power play was pretty decent on Friday night, despite going 0-for-6. They didn't score, but the chances were there. Sparks and someone else (Brown I think?) fanned on wide-open nets. Those were both sure goals. I want to say out of the six power plays, there was only one where it really felt like we got nothing going. The setup was there, we had chances, but none of them found the back of the net. The next night, we cashed in on 2 of 7. Overall, a pretty good effort against the #3 PK in the country.

This puts us back just one point behind Notre Dame in the CCHA with a game in hand. Best of all, the team has won 7 of their last 8 games since the debacle against Minnesota followed up by that heartbreaking overtime loss to OSU. Pucks are starting to go in (we've scored 3+ goals in each of the last 8 games) and they are starting to stay out of our net for the most part. In conference, we're the only team giving up fewer than 2 goals per game.

The stretch run is fairly difficult--out of our final 11 conference games, only FYS is below .500 in the conference. (To be fair, there are only 3 teams in the CCHA below .500 in terms of points.)

Brian has some nice thoughts on the weekend, including a mini-breakdown of the PWR considerations. I echo the thoughts on Merrill. It's unreal that he's this good this soon, and that he never seems to take penalties.

MHNet has a couple articles you should see about our former defensemen: Steve Kampfer is having a nice run since he's been called up to the Boston Bruins and JMFJ tells his story.

John Gibson was ranked 46th in TSN's midseason draft rankings, which come from the opinions of 10 NHL scouts.


Anonymous said...

Haven't been to a game this semester yet, but that changes this weekend. Great to get back to campus and find out that we went from just making the tournament to having a good shot at a #1 seed. and great analysis of the recent series!

Bill H. said...

brown was really bad friday hahaha head up his ass... GW though

streaker said...

Brown didn't play as bad as you think. Langlais was the guy struggling out there, Friday. And how many sticks can a team break in one game??

Tim, both of those d-man goals friday were perfect shots, top shelf corner and Nagle never saw them. More luck than anything, but it just shows, you have to shoot. AJ Treais is the guy that started the play that led to the GWG. Heck of an effort to keep a puck in at the blue line and shuffle it to the top of the slot where Pateryn one timed it. Hagelin made a great blind pass and Brown was finally at the right place, right time.

Re: Mgoblog- it's about time Brian gave hockey some love instead of his hack journalism campaign on Hoke/Brandon and the football debacle. Talk about divisive.

Kevin Holt said...

Merrill = Lidstrom


Anonymous said...

Merrill is good, but not that good yet. He didn't look ready for the next level in the WJT against Canada. I hope he stays put another year.

Brad said...

Of course Merrill isn't as good as Lidstrom, a college frosh vs. a top 5 all-time NHL defenseman, right?

Anyway the comparison of Merrill as Baby Lidstrom fits IMO. His overall game is very comparable. He's usually in the right position but not overly physical defensively. He's not flashy offensively but puts up points consistently, and doesn't take penalties. I've read Merrill's idol is St. Nick, if so the influence is clear.

Back off, New Jersey!!