Caveat: I, unfortunately, will not be able to cover every single game due to football season and other Blog-related responsibilities. Also, as far as the statistical approach goes, I will be at the mercy of both the video availability of games and the creative ways to get shot charts from each game. (Like for the Ferris State game, they apparently only gave out 1st and 2nd period shot charts). Hopefully, I can make this work for the most part.
(Paul Sherman) Quite a debut
Like I stated previously, I was unable to see this game and only have two of the three shot charts. However, through two periods, M only generated 16 attempts at the net in 5v5 play. That is even worse than the first game against Union (the second game was a little better). The offensive questions still abound. Multiple people who did see the game told me that Ferris generally dominated play and M had trouble finding scoring opportunities. The shooting charts seem to back that theory. While they did manage to win this game, Ferris State is an 0-4 WCHA team. If you are unable to control the puck against them, it does not bode well for upcoming weekends.
I had the CORSI score at 22-16 in favor of Ferris State through two periods. I can definitely live with giving up 22 attempts in two periods. They did allow the Bulldogs to get seven chances in the lower slot, however. I would hope to see more of those attempts come from the perimeter. Again, the Wolverines got some steller goaltending, which again seemed to cover up a somewhat leaky defense.
One of the bright sides for M has been their power play. They tallied both of their goals in this game on the man advantage. Jake Slaker got his first career goal as M took the lead midway through the second period. Slaker would also tally an assist on the Wolverines second power play goal. Sam Piazza's game-winner also came up a man in the third period. It was Piazza's third goal of the season, giving him the team lead. Michigan did draw five power plays on the night and definitely took advantage of their opportunities.
Unfortunately, Michigan's parade to the penalty box continued against Ferris State. They took seven penalties in total. That is still too many, especially from a defense that is struggling to keep puck away from the front of the night. Fortunately, on Saturday, Michigan was able to kill six of the seven Bulldog power plays.
This has definitely been the brightest spot for the Wolverines...and they apparently are ridiculously deep. M has started a different goalie in each game this season and all three goalies have performed very well. Jack LaFontaine got his first career start and stopped 28 of the 29 shots that he saw. He came into Michigan as a highly regarded recruit and, by all accounts, lived up to the billing in his first opportunity. A knowledgeable friend said it was a "stand on his head" performance. Even with a bit of a leaky defense and a lacking offense, Michigan's goaltending has put them in position to win every game this season.
ODD MAN RUSHES
n/a for tonight
FINAL CORSI SCORE (though 2 periods)
Ferris State 22, Michigan 16
I tired, guys (Barron)
Ugh. Despite the score being only 4-3 (and 3-2, M for most of the game), Michigan's offense was mostly non-existent. My final CORSI count was 69-36. That's a 34% possession rate. Woof. When Michigan was actually able to get a hold of the puck, they were usually trying to fling it down the ice for a clear or attempt to use their speed to create an OMR going the other direction. Obviously, its still early in the season and they're playing with quite a few freshman forwards (5 of the 11 dressed), but its tough to see who is going to generate the offense. Will Lockwood has some potential. He had a 2v1 and eschewed the pass and picked a top corner to give M the lead early in the 2nd. After that, though...there was very little. There was a little flurry in the 2nd where M was able to get into inside the circles, but for most of the game, the few chances they did have came from the perimeter. Alex Kile has some handles and a shot but he's played the best when someone is able to get him the puck. I'm not sure who that will be, at this point. Two of M's goals came on special teams and neither looks super repeatable.
To the eye test, I honestly didn't think the defense was too terrible. There did not seem to be a lot of huge gaffes or awful DZTOs (there might have been a couple). Looking at the shot charts, though...numbers tell a different story. Union was able to get inside the circles and into the slot with relative ease. By my count 45 of their 69 attempts came from inside of the circles/slot. That's...a lot. Michigan did have a number of blocks, but...still. Union also did not return a lot of scoring from last season. We'll see how Union looks in the future, but allowing that many chances from that close is not the start Michigan was looking for to begin their season.
Special teams don't factor into the advanced stats that we're trying to focus on, but Michigan still took eight penalties....including four (five, but one was matching) in the opening period. And they all came in rapid succession. Union was able to scratch a goal back after falling behind 2-0. They also tallied late in the 3rd to tie that game, going 2 for 6, overall. If the Wolverines can't stay out of the box...this will get rough.
On the positive side (there is one?), Michigan managed to score twice on special teams. The first came on a loose puck off of the faceoff that Piazza sniped home from the high slot. The second was Max Shuart chipping a puck clear on a Union 2 man advantage to a streaking Tony Calderone who scored on a the PK as he broke free after exiting the box. Neither of those goals were the result of great puck movement, but more capitalizing on friendly bounces, unfortunately. When they did get the PP set up, they started in the 1-3-1, but never got it fully buzzing the way we were so used to it going last season. In their last two PPs, they generated a couple chances, but nothing too golden.
This might have been the brightest spot for Michigan...and it looks as if they might need it. I thought Nagelvoort played really, really well. There was absolutely nothing he could have done on either of the first two goals or the fourth. The third he may wish to have back, but it would not be filed as 'awful.' Regardless, he made 36 saved and faced many, many attempts from close range. He looked strong around the net, and I thought he controlled his rebounds rather well. His movement in the crease and puck tracking both looked very solid. There really is not a lot more he could have done tonight. When you face that many chances, pucks will go in at some point.
ODD MAN RUSHES
This is something Adam and I started tracking last season when our hottaeks told us that Michigan gave up way too many goals from getting caught out of their defensive zone. Tonight, I only tracked three OMRs. Only one was dangerous -as it came on a M PP. Piazza was back in a 2v1 and somehow got beat by the puck carrier but no goal resulted. Other than that, the other two (a 3v2 and a 2v1) were mitigated by nice defensive work. It seemed these were a huge bugaboo for M last season and resulted in free goals for opponents. Tonight, the goals were more of a result of not being able to clear the zone, tired legs from chasing all night, and the inability to stay out of the box.
FINAL CORSI SCORE
Union 69, Michigan 36
Congratulations to Carl Hagelin on winning the Stanley Cup.
He was an important piece of the team... playing on a highly successful line with Phil Kessel and Nick Bonino (known as the "HBK" line).
I started photographing Michigan sports in Spring of 2012. I had just finished my Sophomore year of Undergrad in engineering and wanted to do something with my photography skills, so I joined the Michigan Daily. The 2011-2012 season was Michigan's 22nd consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. Photographing this 2012-2013 team was obviously a very special opportunity for me and one that I was excited about.
But apparently I was a curse that led to a three year NCAA tournament drought. Or at least many have told me this. Sorry, guys.
But this weekend the curse was broken as Michigan played in the NCAA Tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Since most Michigan could not make the trip, I wanted to make a Diary that gives a feel for what the atmosphere was like. Away games/environements have always intrigued me. Unfortunately I chose the last game of the year to start one but better late than never, right?
The Notre Dame game was a fun preview of the years to come. Fans of both teams travelled well. When teams took the ice, it was a battle of the bands with the fight songs. "Let's Go Irish" chants were drowned out by "Let's Go Blue" chants, and vice versa.
Not every Michigan player dressed, but they did all travel. As a fan, it's tough watching your team go into overtime because there's really not much you can do. As a player though, it must be much worse. They looked far more nervous than any fan (as seen above).
Unlike the Big Ten Tournament, plenty of Michigan fans showed up to cheer on the team. This was to be expected, as Ann Arbor to Cincy is about 4 hours, versus 12 hours to St. Paul. The stadium still wasn't full and the upper deck was tarped off, but there were certainly enough there to create a decent atmosphere.
The hockey bands really gave the college sports atmosphere. The arena still played RAWK MUSIK (actually it was a lot of hip-hop mash-ups that they probably pulled from a YouTube playlist), but hearing Notre Dame and Michigan's fight songs back-to-back was a refreshing sound. Even the Northeastern band traveled quite well (as did their fans, though to a lesser extent than all the other teams).
Speaking of Northeastern, they were thoroughly handled by North Dakota. Despite scoring the first goal, they found themselves down 5-1 in the 2nd period to UND. The above photo pretty much sums up the game.
Steve Racine played lights out all weekend. This save above was a wrap-around by Notre Dame in overtime that was saved by the blade of Racine's skate.
Moments later, Michigan scored, players celebrated, and Notre Dame fans went home looking sad.
The next day, North Dakota fans arrived with strong energy. Though they are now officially the "Fighting Hawks", "Let's Go Sioux" chants echoed all game long.
Also in attendance: Michigan AD Warde Manuel. I don't think he changed facial expressions once all game.
Sioux Fighting Hawks had some supporters from Ohio, too, celebrating in front of some Miami (Oh) and OSU fans. Something tells me they were cheering more for not-Michigan rather than North Dakota.
"Fighting Hawks" doesn't appear to be catching on any time soon.
If you're looking for a moral victory, after the North Dakota player scored he got taken out by the ref. So there's that.
It took until the 3rd period for North Dakota to take a 4-2 lead in this game. They dominated most of the pace and you couldn't help but feel that it was only a matter of time until they went ahead. In the first period, shots were 22-5 in favor of North Dakota. The players received a lot of support as they left the ice, Racine especially.
Red Berenson gave no mention of retirement at his press conference. He did applauded the efforts of his seniors, and praised the efforts of North Dakota. Could this have been his last post-game press conference?
If you were unable to attend the tournament in Cincinnati, I hope this has helped give you a feel for what it was like! A thrilling overtime win over Notre Dame and 2.5 periods against one of the best teams in the country made for an exciting weekend of hockey. (This is also my first Diary post so go easy on me!) I'd like to make more of these when I travel to away games in the future.
See you in the Fall!
If this is Goodbye, then thank you for our program [Patrick Barron]