Thursday, January 19, 2012

Notre Dame Preview

What the hell is the matter with me? Three posts in one day?

Anyway, the teams that are tied for fifth in the Pairwise rankings square off this weekend as #7 Notre Dame takes on #10 Michigan at the new Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend.

Notre Dame will play Friday night's game without third-leading scorer (and Red Wings prospect) Riley Sheahan, as he was suspended one game for a hit to the head against Western Michigan.

Notre Dame is 13-8-3 on the season and 8-5-3-0 in the CCHA. They've been struggling as of late, going 3-6-0 in their last nine, though two of the wins were against Minnesota and Boston University. They were swept 3-2 and 3-1 by WMU last weekend.

The Irish have played a tough schedule this season. Their non-conference slate has featured two games against Minnesota-Duluth, Boston College, Boston University, and Minnesota. They're actually 4-1 in those games, yet somehow got bitch-bombed 9-2 by Northeastern.

Notre Dame has been uncharacteristically weak in between the pipes this year. While they rank a middle-of-the-pack 27th in goals against average (2.75), their goaltenders are 62nd and 67th out of 76 qualifying goalies in save percentage. Steven Summerhays has an .893 and Mike Johnson has an .887. Johnson has 18 GP to Summerhays's 10, but it's been Summerhays more often than not lately. Johnson has lost five straight starts after being unbeaten in 10. In the 9-2 loss to Northeastern, he was pulled after giving up goals on the first three shots of the game. His start in a loss to WMU last Saturday night was his first start since 12/9/11. In his five-game losing streak he has a 4.55 goals against and a .792 save percentage. In two games against Michigan last season, Johnson was 1-1 and gave up 6 goals on 57 shots (he stymied Michigan one game and gave up 5 on 33 the next night).

Summerhays has been better. He's 6-2-0 on the season and made 30+ stops against Minnesota and BU within his last 3 appearances. He, too, got shellacked by Northeastern (4 goals on 12 shots), but he's been much more sound than Johnson overall. Last year he had a 3.04/.863, so this is an improvement. Summerhays gave up 3 on 22 shots in a losing effort at Michigan last March.

The Irish are also middle-of-the-pack in offense. They rank 25th in the nation, scoring exactly 3 goals per game. They've got some talent up front, though. TJ Tynan has a 9-22--31 line in 23 games this season to rank in the top-10 nationally in points per game. He's actually ahead of his point-scoring pace from last season, when he had 54 points as a freshman. Tynan has been held off the score-sheet on just 5 occasions this year and he has 3-3--6 in his last four games. He started the year with 14 points in his first seven games.

Anders Lee has 14 goals and is just a tick off his point-a-game pace from last season. Lee has cooled off significantly after a scorching-hot start. He had 10 goals in the first seven games of the season (and he scored at least once in all of them) and had 12 in his first 11. In the 13 games since then, he's scored just twice, both in one game against BU. He has just 3 assists over that span as well. Lee and Tynan have combined for 11 power play goals.

Sheahan has 21 points on the year, and they've got 5 others with 10+ points, including 3 defensemen.

For a team that hasn't lit up the scoreboard, the Irish are strong on the power play. They've tallied at least one power play goal in 19 of their 24 games this year. They only rank 17th in PP (20.7%) but they've been effective. Only Minnesota, Union, Maine, and Connecticut have more tallies with the man-advantage. Then again, only Minnesota-State, Quinnipiac, Clarkson, and Vermont have had more chances on the power play. The PK is 28th in the country at 82.4%.

The special teams edge goes to Notre Dame. Michigan is -4 on special teams. Notre Dame is +9. They've been short-handed 16 fewer times and have had 21 more power play opportunities.

Michigan has 6 players with 3-career points against Notre Dame. Glendening and Wohlberg are the only players with multiple goals. Shawn Hunwick is 2-2-0 in his career with a 2.64 goals against and a .914 save percentage. 

Tomorrow night's game airs at 7:35 on NBC Sports (formerly Versus). Saturday's game is at 7:35 and will be on CBS College Sports. (Edit: I originally went with the USCHO times. NBC Sports lists it as a 7:35 faceoff as does Michigan, so we'll go with that. USCHO had it as 7:05.)


streaker said...

I've seen conflicting times on fridays game- both on ND's website. 7:05 and 7:35.

Also- Irony at it's finest: ND's top +/- is +4 where Michigan's is +20. Our goal differential is also +30 to their +6.

I still suspect it will be 2 close games.

Packer487 said...

I went with USCHO's start times. NBC Sports and Michigan both have it as 7:35, so I edited it reflect that.

Yeah, I think it'll be two good games and probably a split. It also wouldn't shock me if one of the goalies for ND stood on his head one night--seems like that always happens when I talk about guys having subpar years.

It's hard to keep expecting sweeps on the road against good teams.