no wonder we hired Hunter Lochmann
YES DO MORE THINGS THAT MAKE PEOPLE STAND UP IN FRONT OF YOUUUUU
So you’ve turned your calendar to March and watched some snow melt (finally), and your mind has naturally turned to brackets and the anxiety that goes hand-in-hand with single elimination contests. If you’ve thought about single elimination games that involve ice and rubber spheres instead of hardwood and rubber spheres then we’re on the same page.
At 3pm on Thursday Michigan plays Penn State, the lowest seeded team in the Big Ten Tournament and the team that has given Michigan more problems than first-ranked (in the nation) Minnesota. If Michigan wins, there’s a 96% chance they make the NCAA Tournament. If they lose, that drops to 40-50%. Pretty straightforward and terrifying.
If this is the first hockey game you’ve watched or just the first one you’ve watched this season then this guide’s for you. Think of this as a time investment. If you read it and Michigan wins on Thursday then you’re all set for the NCAA Tournament! If you read it and they don’t win then you must be some sort of human jinx, please don’t watch the basketball team.
Who to watch on offense:
#17 JT Compher, C, FR/#18 Andrew Copp, C, SO
I couldn’t split these two up and put one in the category below because they jointly set the tempo for Michigan. Both are going to forecheck hard enough to create offense, though they can create off the cycle as well. Both of these guys have the mindset of a third-line center with the hands and hockey IQ of a first-liner.
And if those guys aren’t on the ice?
#27 Alex Guptill, LW, JR
Put the puck on his stick and he’s a potential NHLer. Take the puck away from him and, uh, results may vary. He was a healthy scratch once this year essentially because he was putting in zero effort on the defensive end, but he’s since rebounded. He’s not going to win any awards for “best defensive forward,” but he has an incredible ability to move with the puck in tight spaces and keep it away from defenders.
Who to watch on defense:
#37 Mac Bennett, D, SR
This isn’t supposed to be a slight to the other defensemen but actually yeah, it’s kind of a slight to the other defensemen; Bennett is the only one that doesn’t make me nervous when he’s on the ice. He’s a senior, but more important is that he’s made strides in terms of playing a simpler, more balanced game. He’s a calming influence on a very, very young d-corps who knows when to rush the puck and how not to turn it over in the defensive zone as much as the other defensemen.
And if he isn’t on the ice?
#22 Andrew Sinelli, D, JR
He used to be a forward but the transition may be the best thing that’s ever happened to him during his time at Michigan. Sinelli will need to continue to work on little things like gap control, but he’s got the skating ability to hang with most anyone. He’s been really impressive since switching positions mid-season.
What about that guy who lets people use composite materials to throw pieces of rubber at him?
#35 Zach Nagelvoort, G, FR
Since Compher came in with considerable hype I’d say Nagelvoort is the real surprise contributor this season. He wasn’t supposed to be playing this season, but an injury to starter Steve Racine pushed him into the lineup and he hasn’t relinquished that spot since. Nagelvoort likes to handle the puck near his net and has a very good glove hand. His positioning is very good and he stays square to shooters. Hard to ask for more than that from a freshman.
What about the team, the team, the team?
Coin flip. Averaging 3.12 goals/game is good enough for 20th in the nation, but which offense shows up is anyone’s guess. They can hang six on anyone in the nation or they can score one, and they’ve done both against great and terrible competition respectively.
Coin flip. They’re giving up 2.56 goals/game, which again places them 20th in the nation. Some nights they look unstoppable (see last Saturday’s game against Minnesota) and some nights they look beyond confused (see the entire Great Lakes Invitational).
Michigan has scored on 26 of their 129 opportunities (20.16%). This places them 17th in the nation, with the caveat being that every team ahead of them has had more power play chances. They’ve looked better in recent weeks as Luke Moffat has emerged as a legitimate special teams scoring threat. Eight of his 13 goals have come on the power play, so watch for #9 when Michigan has the man advantage.
While it’s not the worst in the nation, it’s the team’s weak spot when considering that they’re ranked somewhere around 20th in the nation in all other team scoring categories. Michigan has killed 105 of 129 penalties (81.4%), which ties them for 35th nationally with American International, which is a school that I did not know existed until I just wrote it down.
Tl;dr. What do I really need to know?
Michigan has to beat Penn State if they want to make the NCAA Tournament and start The Streak™ over. We don’t know which version of Michigan will show up; it will either be the team that can beat anyone in the nation or it will be the team that gifted Penn State two of its three B1G wins.
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)
Goal by goal analysis (GBGA) is something I've been doing on my Red Wings blog for a little over a year. The lockout seems like the perfect opportunity to transition to writing about UM, and the series against Notre Dame sounded like a good place to start.
A couple of notes about the images below:
- Dashed lines indicate something that did not happen but could have. The first screencap from the first goal is a good example of this with a pass that could have been made but wasn't.
- Solid lines indicate the action of the play. Shots, passes, or a player's movement can all be indicated with solid arrows.
- Circles indicate a player integral to the developing play. Also, circles are awesome and fun to use because I don't have to hand draw them.
Notre Dame 0 Michigan 1; 04:38- Selman unassisted
Notre Dame controls the puck in their own zone. Michigan has an aggressive forecheck on with two forwards in the defensive zone. Despite the pressure, there is an easy D-to-D pass that the defenseman could make.
He instead chooses to try and thread the puck through the high slot through the two converging Michigan forecheckers. This doesn’t work because duh, and Selman picks off the pass.
Selman is in all alone in the left faceoff circle. He doesn’t deke at all, just carries the puck forward for a second before snapping a shot that beats the ND goaltender over the shoulder blocker side. No dangle-dangling, just a great shot that beats the goaltender cleanly.
Notre Dame 1 Michigan 1; 04:04- SH Voran from Tynan & Taker
ND chips the puck out of the Michigan zone, which allows Michigan’s forwards to go off for a line change. ND has a man high, and the chip pass finds him at the blue line.
The ND forward (Tynan) carries the puck in and has a man trailing (circled in green). Bennett is Michigan’s lone defenseman back, and he starts to position himself in the middle of the slot for the situation that’s unfolding; the goaltender will take the shooter and the defenseman will take away the pass to the trailer.
Patience pays off for the Golden Jofas, as Tynan waits until he sees a gap under Bennett’s stick and passes through it to the right faceoff circle. Voran is ready for the pass and one times a shot past Racine, who was able to push across the crease but had already hit the ice and left the top part of the net exposed. Racine isn’t to blame here, however, as the pass never should have gotten through the crease in the first place.
Notre Dame 2 Michigan 1; 14:22- Rust from Russo
The ND defenseman is trying to get the puck in deep. He takes a slapshot that hits the boards behind the net.
Racine thinks about playing the puck for a split second before he realizes that Rust is going to beat him to the puck. He pulls back but is in poor position to go cross-crease because he turns to look at Rust picking up the puck instead of sliding across and locking down the post.
Rust scores on an easy wrap around. Moffie drops to a knee like he’s going to take away a pass but there is no pass here; he needs to pull his stick around to the other side to try and interrupt Rust’s shot.
Notre Dame 3 Michigan 1; 18:28- Schneider from Johns & DiPauli
Four minutes later, Michigan gets victimized again by a Notre Dame defenseman getting the puck deep (and, in this case, on net).
Racine stops the shot, but he lets a juicy rebound go right to…Mike Chiasson? The puck hits his skate and is redirected into the net. SKATE DERP.
In other hockey news, AJ Treais, Mac Bennett, and Lee Moffie were just named captains for next season. I suppose this close the door on any lingering questions on Bennett or Moffie leaving for the pro's.
EDIT: As pointed out below, Treais will wear the C. Mac & Lee are the alternates
As Brian said earlier this week, March means massive Daily profiles, and the second one came out yesterday. This one's on Mac Bennett's music-making.
(Berenson) turned to Bennett.
“What are you studying, Mac?”
“I think I’m going to major in musicology,” Bennett offered.
Then he caught Berenson’s stare.
Bennett’s major, outrageously different from his coach’s business degree, took about 10 seconds for Berenson to process. And when he finally did, he didn’t mince words.
“What the hell is that?”
And here's the profile that went up earlier in the week on Luke Glendening: LINK
Nice litte article from Montreal's website about the two Canadiens prospects. I particularly enjoyed the end of the article...
"Once they win their championship together in Michigan maize and blue next year, that’s when Bennett and Pateryn will finally start dreaming of patrolling the Montreal blue line together in Habs blue-blanc-rouge."
Go Blue and Go Habs