"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
A cursory glance doesn't reveal many similarities between Michigan basketball and Michigan hockey these days. After all, one team took the court this weekend with a share of the B1G title on the line and fans that lined up something like 22 hours before tip-off. The other team took the ice this weekend with no title on the line and not even a live televised feed of their games.
Take a closer look, though, and some broad similarities appear. Basketball and hockey are both games of runs. It's just the way the game goes when there are no pre-established offensive and defensive turns. You hit and you'll get hit back. You exert pressure and that pressure will eventually be exerted on you. Michigan basketball ended on the wrong side of a run, suffering a knockout punch that was one part bad luck and two parts missed opportunity. Michgan hockey, on the other hand, survived the inevitable pressure Northern Michign exerted after Michigan took a 3-0 lead.
A 3-0 first period lead wasn't something the Wolverines could rest on. Too many times this season they've taken an early lead only to be swept away by the undertow of another team's run, late goals and late pressure that were too much to overcome. With their postseason hanging in the balance Michigan responded on Friday, doing what was sufficient and holding serve in the third period to weather the storm and in the process made that dim glimmer of hope we hold that Michigan can extend its NCAA tournament streak to 23 consecutive seasons a little brighter.
I'll try to get a GBGA of Saturday's game up....sometime. Not sure when, but I'm working on it. Look forward to more pictures, more laughs, and most importantly moooooooooore goals.
(Burke photo cred: Julian Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press)
CCHA Tournament Picture Pages
The Clare shorthanded goal is excluded because of the of highlights length, but it was very cool to see him deke like Gordan Bombay.
Here we start with Merrill and Clare high, Brown is having his way in front. With only 12 seconds left Merrill just throws the puck to the net.
As you can see Brown has set a perfect screen. Hammond is still up because he can't see it, but the the shot is already on the way and it's low.
He tries to go for the tip, but it doesn't matter that he missed because the shot is already in the back of the net.
After a nice stick to keep the puck in, the Wolvereines gain control along the back boards. As illustrated each Bowling Green defender has his eyes locked onto the puck, not aware of any cutting forwards.
A beautiful pass from Moffatt across the crease finds a streaking David Wohlberg.
And the Wolvereines have the second goal of the night.
Another hustle play keeps the zone, with Treais gathering along the side boards.
Even with three defenders around him and a near trip, Treais still gets to the net.
This was one of the only mistakes Hammond made all night and it was the biggest. He was challenging way too high out in the first place, but A.J. gets him to drop and he has no chance to recover.
The stomach slide keeps him from dunking it, but with three Michigan forwards crashing there isn't much of a chance for BG to save it.
Moffatt continues his great weekend with the game winner.
This was a great goal for our powerplay unit and it really stood out to me after I watched it. This is the exact same play Michigan State ran against us earlier in the year, that I wished Red would draw up for us. Here it is.
Michigan has Merrill on point, Treais handing with Moffie opposite and Moffatt low. I can't see the screener and I'm to lazy to check the box score to see who it is.
Once Treais gives to Moffatt, he and Moffie and both going to come low. It makes Western have to choose quickly who to cover and who to leave open.
They make the right choice by covering the center, Treais and challenging Moffatt. It leaves us with the difficult play of trying to find Moffie across the crease, or pulling out and resetting.
Moffat picks the difficult route and slides the puck right through the crease, the only penalty killer who can attempt to break it up is a lefty.
Moffie slaps it in with a nice one timer and brings Michigan within one goal.
Altough they did score differently here is that MSU PP goal
|#3 Michigan (23-11-4) vs Bowling Green (14-23-5) at Joe Louis Arena|
|Friday, March 16 8:05pm (Fox Sports Detroit Plus)|
Another CCHA head scratcher, heres to hoping the B1G Hockey Conference can get games on TV the fans can actually watch.
As you can see this forward group is not the most dynamic unit in the league, up until the tournament they were one of the nations worst. Obviously regular season numbers meaning nothing anymore, as the Falcons have gotten hot enough offensively to take down Michigan, NMU and Ferris State.
Although Bowling Green has been winning games lately, they have been doing it in true underdog fashion. They do enough to hang around the entire game, before taking advantage of a breakdown or turnover late to win the game.
The key here is to play solid, mistake free hockey. With a team that is playing like this a conservative game may not be the best idea, look for an aggressive forecheck and pinching blueliners to try and get them down early. Hopefully they have run out of gas.
Not a good group at all, they do not do much on either side of the puck. It's never a good sign when your top defensmen is a -13.
Except for one game against NMU opposing teams have had no problem scoring on the Falcons in this strech, if our top two lines do what they usually do we should be fine.
I am a big fan of Andrew Hammond. He has respectable numbers on a really bad team, which makes you wonder what kind of stats he would put up on a good team.
When he gets hot he is the kind of goalie you can ride and BG has been doing that. The scoring chances will be there, Michigan just needs to take advantage of them.
|Phil Di Giuseppe||11-14-25||110||+23||18||21|
It would seem that our offense is starting to get even better. Wohlberg and Treais are heating up at the right time, which makes our top two lines scoring machines. The bottom two lines not so much, which has not been a problem to this point.
The scoring chances will be there, we just need to finish plays.
The defense is playing good enough to stop Bowling Green, there is no issue there. Merrill getting picked in OT is exactaly the kind of plays we need to avoid in this game to advance, the less we turn it over the better chance we win.
The numbers are starting to get legendary. Hunwick is putting up numbers similar to Ryan Miller in '02, the same year he was All-American and CCHA player of the year. For comparison here are those numbers.
*Shakes fist at CCHA
|Ryan Miller (01-02)||2412:00||71||1.71||.936||26-9-5|
I think Red will have the guys ready for tonight, somehow both NMU and Ferris fell asleep in their series this past week but Bowling Green isn't flying under the radar anymore. Depending on how much gas is left in the tank for these guys will depend on if Michigan wins a close game or a laugher, I'm not saying we are going to roll them but I like our chances to win.
|#17 Notre Dame (19-16-3) at #4 Michigan (21-11-4)|
|3/9/12 7:35pm (Not Televised)|
|3/10/12 7:35pm (Comcast)|
|3/11/12 7:35pm (If Necessary)|
|Billy Maday||Right Wing||12-14-26||61||-3||28||17|
|Austin Wuthrich||Right Wing||7-10-17||60||+4||34||12|
|Bryan Rust||Right Wing||5-6-11||73||+1||16||16|
|Jeff Costello||Left Wing||5-6-11||52||-6||56||8|
|Michael Voran||Right Wing||5-4-9||68||-9||18||13|
Straight out of Compton Ice Arena, Notre Dame comes into the series with a much different offense then we have seen before. Led by 1st Team All-CCHA T.J. Tynan, the Irish pose almost zero threat to score out of a set offense, but run one of the most dangerous breakouts in the NCAA.
As you can see from the chart above they are very skilled at center, which can pose a major threat to our lower pairings. A third line who can run the breakout like this doesn't match up well against Clare-Serville.
The key here will be the discipline of our blueliners. Moffie and Merrill pinch more often on the offensive side, which is something we need to avoid here. The Irish love to skate, so we need to stay back and force them to run from a set.
Off a Missed shot by Di Giuseppe, Notre Dame gathers and turns on the jets.
The forward gets his defender to pinch early, notice the other blueliner is shading left. When the forward gathers the puck over the line he has the entire right side of the ice to work with.
This is what makes Notre Dames transition offense so good, everyone understands their role. One guy is going to the net, everyone else is finding an open space to sit in.
Look at how many options they have created for themselves.
On the defensive side the Fighting Irish are lacking a true shutdown pair. In fact they aren't very good at defense at all as the +/- would indicate. Some of this could be attributed to goalie play, but even with good numbers from Summerhays they still aren't getting the job done.
One thing they are good at is skating with the forwards on the break.
Here is another transition goal for the Irish, once again we have a forward crashing the net and the trailer setting up behind the play. Calabrese has intentionally held up because Michigan has lost him.
Calabrese does a great job of finding the open space behind the defenders and buries the shot.
This is a head scratcher for me. Looking at the numbers it's clear Mike Johnson is not the guy you want in net but for whatever reason he still gets ice time, chalk this one up to a coach being stubborn.
Steven Summerhays is the kind of goalie who can carry your team or let in a bunch soft goals to lose it. It all depends on the day because when he's hot he dives across the crease and catches the puck with the handle of his stick, when he's cold he gets beaten 5-hole and glove side with relative ease.
|Phil Di Giuseppe||10-12-22||99||+20||14||20|
Scoring has been dominated by the top line, we live and die by their scoring. Scorers 1-3 are on the top line, 4-6 are on the second line. Third line is good for a goal every once and a while and the fourth is never going to score.
It was very surprising and kind of a shock to see Jon Merrill get his pocket picked by Bowling Green for the game winner. This has become much more frequent than Michigan fans would like to see, I've seen Merrill cough the puck up and get turned around by forwards more this season than ever before. Hopefully he can get this problem resolved.
Keep being awesome, that is all.
Ill keep this short since I'm trying to get this up quick. Michigan wins in three games, we take game one and Notre Dame takes game two before we close it out Sunday night.
Examining Line Combinations and Defensive Pairings:
Today we look at how each line preformed as a group, to see which groups have been most effective.
Before we get started just a few notes:
- Many +/- numbers, goals and assists have been left off. The Wolverines used about thirty different forward combinations this season and many of them scored one time and never played together again. For that reason those numbers have been excluded.
- To avoid huge numbers a line only gets +1 or -1 when a goal is scored. +/- are not added together
- A line can earn more than one assist per goal scored.
- This only includes CCHA play
- This is not reflective of individual points or +/- Looking at overall stats and trying to compare them to what I have will confuse you. Any attempt to add them together to prove me wrong will result in hours of wasted time.
|K. Lynch-Deblois-T. Lynch||3||3||6||+3||-3|
As we can see here the top line does the heavy lifting and it's not even close. Our chances of winning can be directly attributed to how they are playing, because as you can see after that line scoring drops.
Players like Sparks and Hyman are left off the list, because they never scored more then one point on the same combination.
From watching the games you could tell our PP is not very good. This group also used many different combinations that only scored one time, before finding a unit that kind of worked but really not that well.
This looks pretty bad. Mac Bennett and Greg Pateryn have been pairing the entire year, they seem to get a boost in the + for being on the ice with the scoring line.
Moffie and Chiasson paired at the start of the season with bad results, and Moffie and Merrill haven't been that much better.
Another weak unit, stats don't say much here because of low numbers all across the board. Merrill-Moffie is much better than Pateryn-Bennett
Not much new to see here, but it's nice to see him rated so highly, particularly since he didn't play the first 22 games of the season, as well as considering his company on the list.
If you don't want to click through, here's the best quote:
Merrill's offensive contributions continue to be significant, but it's his increased focus on the defensive end of the ice that is equally notable here. While he can often be found joining the play, Merrill's decisions in when to do so improves with each game. His solid defensive zone play, particularly in one-on-one situations, is also showing some improvement as well.
EDIT: Lee Moffie and Greg Pateryn are also listed as "Other Notables"