Thursday, November 10, 2011

Michigan vs. The Dynasty Preview

Photo Credit: Bill Rapai
Red Berenson's troops head south this weekend to take on the closest thing to a hockey dynasty that this world has ever known: The Miami RedHawks. In actuality, the RedHawks have been positively un-dynasty-like so far this year. They stumbled out of the gate, losing their opener against Bemidji, and started 0-4 in CCHA play after getting swept by Ferris and Lake State.

Last weekend, they went up to Alaska and beat the Nanooks by a pair of 2-1 decisions, despite being outshot 30-14 on Friday night.

The lack of offense has been a problem. Miami needed to replace Andy Miele, Pat Cannone, and Carter Camper after last season, and the result has been an offense that has scored just 2.30 goals per game this year, down from 3.75 a year ago. They currently rank 43rd in the nation in offense.

Through 10 games, Reilly Smith is the only player on the roster with more than 2 goals (5-1--6). (To compare, Michigan has 8 players with 3+ goals.) Even Smith's scoring has been cut in half, though. He averaged a very impressive 1.42 points per game last season (28-26--54 in 38 games).

As you'd expect, the power play has also struggled. They're clicking along at 14.0%, good for 40th nationally.

The goaltending/team defense also hasn't been at the level they're accustomed to. Connor Knapp and Cody Reichard return for their senior seasons. Reichard is 3-3-0 on the year with a 2.46/.902. Knapp is just 1-3-0 with a 3.17/.888 (!!). The PK is at 81.4% and they have scored 3 shorties already this year.

Knapp has lost three straight starts, and after giving up 4 on 15 shots in less than 30 minutes of work against LSSU, he did not play against Alaska. Reichard got both of those starts and gave up just two goals total. It'll be interesting to see if Blasi gets back to his goalie rotation this weekend, or if Reichard gets both starts again. I suspect it will depend on how tonight goes. If Reichard shuts Michigan down, he may just keep riding the hot hand. Reichard typically plays Friday nights in their rotation, so he'd get first crack regardless.

I've always been more impressed with Reichard anyway. Last year, he held Michigan to two goals on 55 shots during a weekend sweep in Oxford. He was also in net for both games of their sweep at Yost in 09-10, again giving up just two goals on 49 shots. Michigan did beat him in the CCHA Semifinals during that magic run. Knapp was ridiculous in the tournament game where the quick whistle did Michigan in. He stopped 55 of 57 shots that night. Strangely enough, that's been his only start against Michigan since his freshman year, when he played the majority of three games.

Freshman Tyler Biggs was Toronto's first-round pick in this year's draft after spending two years with the NTDP. He has 1-4--5 so far this year.

This is a big weekend for the RedHawks. Despite their struggles, Miami could get back to .500 with a pair of wins. A Michigan sweep would put Miami at 2-6-0-0 in conference and 4-8-0 overall. That's quickly getting to the point of needing to put together a run to make the NCAA Tournament.

Miami has struggled, but you have to think they'll right the ship at some point. It seems like Reichard has gotten back on his game, but the offense has still be uncharacteristically quiet. A couple of the Wolverine killers (Miele and Cannone) are gone, which is nice. It'll be interesting to see how Michigan responds to the hostile environment down there. I like the chances for a good weekend. Michigan has only been held below 3 goals one time this season and Miami has struggled to the put the puck in the net thusfar. Reichard has been great against Michigan in his career, so if Miami is going to get some points out of the weekend, he'll have to keep that up.


Anonymous said...

Miami shoot out goal should have been disallowed. The puck must move continuously toward the goal line. During the players 'spin-a-rama' he breifly moved the puck away from goal . The 'spin-a-rama' is allowed, but moving the puck away from goal is not.

streaker said...

and you think CCHA refs would know that? really? It was Wilkins and Aaron to boot. Please.

Brad said...

Actually anon, as long as the player has continuous control of the puck on the blade of his sitck in the spin the move is ok. It's been done countless times in the NHL too. There's not an official in the world that's going to disallow that and honestly complaining about it is pretty weak.

Anonymous said...

Besides, the officials (rightly) had already waived off two goals against TBrotherhood. They weren't going to deny them a third time!