I remember when this guy was not just a photoshop creation but a
representation of the state of the athletic programs.
At this time it may be appropriate to purchase flowers. As it tends to do, getting obliterated by Michigan State has caused no end of soul-searching about the basketball program. Example: Genuinely Sarcastic is moved to write something featuring a Dire Straits song.
I don't know. I started fast-forwarding after about ten minutes and turned the thing off entirely once Michigan ended up down 34-14, invoking a personal rule from back in the Amaker days where any game that Michigan was 20 points down was no longer something I had to pay attention to. I wasn't exactly surprised. I know why people are leaping off e-buildings in the aftermath, but that seems like a willful lack of attention paid to results to date.
Now: since this is the 2009-10 season and we are talking about a team in maize and blue, evaluating the "when can we fire this guy?" question is inevitable. Proof: some idiot on the Rivals hockey board even asked it about Red. With Beilein, I don't think he can or should be axed any time in the next two years and that a sixth year is likely almost irrespective of Michigan's performance on the court.
However, I also don't have a lot of hope that things will change for the better. This year, exactly zero players showed any improvement as Michigan backslid. The offense looked positively Amakerian for much of the year. Aimless passing around the perimeter was a major feature. Outside of a game roleplayer in Zack Novak and a possibly useful point guard (albeit one who can't shoot) in Darius Morris, Beilein's first two recruiting classes look like anchors:
- The post recruits are basically Justin Turner minus the recruiting hype: how terrible do you have to be to 1) be a post and 2) get zero minutes on a team with two guys taller than 6'5"?
- Matt Vogrich was 5/5 from three against D-II Northern Michigan and then looked like a slightly larger version of Reed Baker the rest of the year.
- Laval Lucas Perry was on the bench behind…
- …Stu Douglass, who had an eFG of 42.7 and an offensive rating of 93.9 with a 15% usage rate. If Stu Douglass was a team, he would be Southern, a 5-25 SWAC team with the same overall eFG%. And those guys have to average 20% usage. In non-tempo-free numbers: made a third of his twos and 30 percent of his threes.
It's really hard to see how this team gets better next year with or without Manny unless Evan Smotrycz is Dirk Nowitzki. I am writing this right now and I think that's irrational because Michigan will return everyone other than Sims and will finally have enough size to play a proper 1-3-1 and etc etc, but if zero players on the team improved from year one to year two, why will they improve next year? Players are supposed to have their biggest leaps between their freshman and sophomore years, and Michigan's sophomores went backwards.
Votin'. I don't know if a Facebook page attempting to get Brandon Graham on the cover of NCAA Football 11 is going to overcome the fact that Graham didn't play in a bowl, but they make weird choices sometimes and it can't hurt. I bet a dollar it's Tebow.
Talkin'. I presented a talk called 'Building the World's Most Popular College Football Blog"—which, excluding large corporate conglomerations like Fanhouse, is troof—at Ignite 3 on Thursday. The title's sort of misleading, as they often are when you come up with them before coming up with what you're going to say. It's more about what I think is a generally applicable approach to becoming the head of your own nation of racist dwarves no matter what the topic area is.
Please excuse the various ums and ahs, as I didn't get to practice as much as I wanted, and the shirt I didn't realize could have been in the "Evenflow" video until a local wag brought it up. I didn't wear totally awesome cargo shorts, at least.
I'm the first guy in the second half, but you'll have to skip to 1:20 for the part that is not the emcee.
Everyone moves. The NHL trade deadline was devoid of blockbusters but ridiculously heavy on Michigan movement:
Anaheim: traded G Justin Pogge and Boston's fourth-round pick in the 2010 or 2011 draft (previously acquired) to Carolina Hurricanes for D Aaron Ward.
Colorado: traded LW Wojtek Wolski to Phoenix Coyotes for RW Peter Mueller and C Kevin Porter. …
Columbus: traded D Mathieu Roy to Florida Panthers for C Matt Rust. Traded LW Alexandre Picard to Phoenix Coyotes for C Chad Kolarik.
Montreal: traded RW Matt D'Agostini to St. Louis Blues for RW Aaron Palushaj.
Add in Steve Kampfer getting sent to the Bruins for a fourth-round pick—totally weird trade since Kampfer was a fourth-rounder—and that's six Michigan products moving teams in two days. Los Angeles, unsurprisingly, didn't pick any of them up.
Well, okay. I spent a large chunk of the last offseason blasting anyone who dropped Rich Rodriguez on a "hot seat" list as he entered year two. Even a crappy, bowl-free season would not result in Rodriguez's termination, and that has proved to be the case. Now, though, Rodriguez is. No protests when Tom Dienhart and that coaches hot seat whatever throw him on the list.
(One item of protest: throwing Ralph Friedgen in the "inferno" section is pointless when Maryland is already planning a transition to its offensive coordinator.)
Default Big Ten expansion talk. Gary Pinkel interviewed by a few locals, topic inevitably comes up, Pinkel responds with the usual:
one of the really big problems with this league is the TV contract. Two areas of the TV contract, really. First of all, the TV contract itself. In the next five years, per year Illinois will get about $12 million more (from the Big Ten’s TV contract) for their athletic budget. Multiply that by four years for the four years we have left in our contract. So, the University of Illinois is getting $48 million more. That’s hard to understand. I think it’s about $14 million more in the Southeastern Conference. It’s hard to explain that to anybody.
Another issue we have in this league is you look at the SEC and the Big Ten, and they have revenue-sharing. They understand you’re as strong as your weakest link and that the strength of your league is important. So, you share TV revenue. Even though we’ve been on the upper side of that ourselves, it’s not the right thing, in my opinion, for the Big 12. So, there’s some issues here. Those things are out there, and that’s kind of disappointing. Other than that, they’re not going to let me make decisions anyway.
It can be a great league, but there are things financially that are absurd. I can’t even explain it.
That's not much different from the president of the university or the governor's take; Missouri is going to make noise until such point as they cannot make noise because the Big Ten picked someone else or don't have to because it picked them.
Training day. AnnArbor.com talks with Brandon Graham about his prep for the NFL combine. Includes interview segments with Graham and a look inside what Barwis's program is like. Graham also makes a huge array of pained faces:
Graham's running 4.58 40s and doing linebacker drills. I feel a RBUAS piece referencing this video in the future.
In other NFL draft news, Zoltan Mesko is interviewed by the Boston Herald and references a name from the past you might be surprised is hanging around the program again:
“I thought he [Pats special teams coach Scott O'Brien] was very knowledgeable in the special teams game,” Mesko continued. “I know we have our own Michigan guy that takes special teams really seriously, Pierre Woods, and basically, I never knew… When Pierre came back this past month, he’s training up at Michigan again to stay in shape, the amount of knowledge he’s picked up from the special teams coach there is unbelievable. You can really make or break yourself as a linebacker… you’re going to play special teams at that level.”
Woods got in some trouble after a breakout sophomore year and barely hung on with the program after that; many people believe that's where Michigan's rift with the Glenville program that pumps out players year after year started.
Hunwick! After last night's hockey game I bet my friend a dollar that Shawn Hunwick would get the first star despite not facing much in the way of scoring chances, or even shots, from Notre Dame. Lo, it was so. That capped what was probably the best game at Yost all year, a 4-0 win over Notre Dame that saw loveable tiny walk-on get (split) a shutout and two of the four seniors score. Carl Hagelin even added the sort of pretty goals that have been sorely lacking all year when he danced around an ND defenseman and set up Matt Rust for a slam-dunk on a two on one.
Hogan, who has made 41 straight starts in net, is listed as doubtful for Saturday's regular-season finale at Notre Dame.
I know I've been pretty down on Hogan of late—so has Red—but Hunwick's a 5'7" walk-on. That's a major blow.
Michigan is now sixth in the league. Four and five are done with conference play and Michigan can pass them with a win Saturday. If Northern gets five points or more out of their weekend (ie: win both nights and win one in regulation) against Lake State, they'll pass Michigan. Anything less and M will sneak into the fourth spot and grab the first-round bye that comes with it.
Will it matter? Eh… probably not. Unless MSU or Ferris State is upset, Michigan would reach the Joe as the lowest remaining seed and have to take out #1 Miami, a team that's lost all of two conference games this year. Doing that full strength is difficult enough, and now with Hogan questionable it's even more doubtful.
Side note: excellent work by whoever slid this game to Thursday night. I assume it was to make sure the students were present for senior day, something that's been exceedingly rare for a long time. Usually the students are on break and senior night is a flat affair.
Recruiting cavalcade. This didn't get mentioned in Thursday Recruitin'—which we promise will return to Wednesday when things are less insane—but this weekend Michigan is hosting a massive "Showcase" for high school recruits at Oosterbaan and Newsterbaan. They're not officially involved because they can't be, but having what seems like half of the Midwest's big recruits take an unofficial visit to Michigan's shiny new practice facility can't hurt.
Scout has a couple lists of all the folk coming in. Prepare for the begats. Notable names include MI RB Justice Hayes, MI WR DeAnthony Arnett, commit Shawn Conway, OH WR AJ Jordan, MI LB Lawrence Thomas, OH LB Antonio Poole, 2012 MI LB James Ross, commit Greg Brown, commit Delonte Hollowell, MI WR Valdez Showers, MI OL Anthony Zettel, OH OL Chris Carter, OH OL Aundrey Walker, IL OL Chris Bryant, and many others. It's like a super-massive junior day on Michigan's campus, the equivalent of getting a NIKE camp. The difference: NIKE camps are rare appearances and this is going to happen every year.
I'll be most interested to see how the current Michigan commits do. Zettel's already torn up a lineman camp and seems like he'll be an easy four-star, but Hollowell, Brown, and Conway haven't been to a senior camp yet IIRC and this will be a first read on where they'll end up in the rankings.
Expansion dampening? Yes, another Big Ten expansion article. This one has a couple of interesting quotes about the issue of buying into the Big Ten Network. New members are probably going to have to operate at a lower revenue level to start:
"You just don't jump into the league and get a full share of what everyone else in this league has established over time," Alvarez said. "I think someone has to buy their way into the league." …
"We've created such an asset in the Big Ten channel," Outgoing Michigan athletic director Bill Martin said, echoing Alvarez. "I cannot see our 11 institutions simply saying we're going to divide our pie up into more pieces from Day 1."
That will dampen enthusiasm from potential additions, but it might not matter. This is the first time I've seen these numbers for the BTN's second year and holy crap:
But according to tax forms the nonprofit conference is required to make public, it generated $217.7 million and paid each school about $18.8 million in 2007, the most recent year for which tax forms are available.
The next year, according to the Sports Business Journal, the new TV network added another $66 million to the pot. That pushed the per-team payout to about $22 million each, a figure officials from several Big Ten schools confirm remains accurate.
The next most prosperous conference, the SEC, paid its member schools about $11 million each in 2007, according to tax documents.
I'm pretty sure that latter distribution is way up since the SEC's blockbuster ESPN contract kicked in, FWIW, but I also think the SEC is going to have a static amount of money for the next 15 years; the Big Ten is half-owner of its network and will see increasing revenue shares over the course of that time.
(HT: Get The Picture.)
Yes that again. The WLA has a piece similar to the one I just posted, but when I said "I cannot emphasize enough" I was not kidding. Money grafs:
They certainly didn’t know their statements were true either. Is strongly asserting something you know could theoretically be true but might also be false a lie? If you don’t offer up any qualifications to your assertions (I didn’t see any), then I say yes, especially in the case of Rosenberg.
I suppose the best we could say about Snyder is he was totally ignorant of the subject on which he was writing and he didn’t know he was uttering falsehoods. So yay for being a dumbass, Mr. Snyder. But with Rosenberg, we know from his opinion column that he disapproves of the job Rodriguez is doing. For him to write falsehoods that also denigrate someone he disapproves of is just a bit too much of a coincidence for me to believe. Rosenberg knew what he was doing, IMO.
They lied. In the days and months to come regarding the story about “Michigan Players Practice A Lot,” let us not forget the fact that Rosenberg and Snyder lied to their readers.
To aid you in your stalking. People tend to like the occasional mentions of my personal life, so they'll love this: my fiancée's food blog. In it you will find out what I have been eating, what food-related conventional wisdom has recently been enraging in my presence, and various other bizarre things that don't have anything to do with me.
Etc.: Delany has our back, I guess.
|WHAT||Michigan @ UNO|
January 22/23rd, 2010
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||CBS College Sports both nights(!)|
Record. 14-12-6, 10-11-3-2 CCHA. Not a team under consideration right this second. They're #26 in RPI. Currently fifth place with 35 points. Michigan is fourth with two points and two games in hand on the Mavs.
UNO has their usual team of pluggers mixed in with one or two really talented guys and they're in their usual spot in the middle of the CCHA and the cusp of the top 25 in RPI. They've been on a roll of late, going 4-1-1 in their last six. (They swept Northern, split with ND, and got an old-fashioned three-point weekend from Ohio State.)
UNO's always fancied Michigan as its main rival in the CCHA and this is the last time UNO will host Michigan as a conference foe. The Mavs are off to the WCHA next year. As a result, you get articles like so…
Big Blue. Evil Empire. Michigan. Michigoon. Say it any way you want, but say it for the last time this weekend.
…that can't deny the truth behind the "rivalry"…
UNO is 4-24-3 all-time against Michigan and 2-9-3 at home.
…is that there really isn't one. I've seen most of those games and even I'm shocked at how ugly UNO's record is.
Their schedule down the stretch here is brutal: Michigan, Miami, and national shocker Bemidji State, currently in the CHA but 18-6-2 and pushing for a #1 seed.
Dangermen. This is the polar opposite of top-heavy Ferris State: UNO's top scorer, defenseman Eddie Del Grosso, has a meh 22 points but the Mav's #9 scorer has seventeen, with two more guys cracking double digits. UNO has seven players with at least seven goals. They get scoring from all over.
If there's a guy to watch out for it's Jeric Agosta, who has 14-7-21 and just one power play goal. Linemate John Kemp has 4-17-21 and will be his setup guy. Kemp missed five games earlier this season, so his boxcar numbers are more impressive than they appear.
During UNO's recent hot streak they've found their offense, pouring in over 4.5 goals per game. This has gotten them to 2.84 per game for the year, 34th nationally. Before the hot streak, then, it was dire. Michigan is currently 24th in scoring.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. This number will look familiar: UNO is allowing 2.84 goals per game (32nd nationally). They are dead even on goal differential this year. (Michigan is currently fifth nationally at 2.23 per.)
Here Michigan finally meets a decent opponent with goalie issues equal to or worse than their own. Hogan's up to 48th in save percentage while the Mav platoon sits 52nd and 72nd (of 74!). Sophomore John Faulkner—#52—has gotten most of the work and will probably see both starts against Michigan.
Special teams. Your power plays per game stat:
|PP For / G||4.9||5.8|
|PP Ag / G||5.0||5.5|
UNO takes and draws considerably fewer power plays than Michigan and is a bit short on PP opportunities this year; Michigan can expect maybe one extra power play over the weekend.
UNO sits in the middle of the pack here, too: 18.5% on the power play is 28th nationally and a bit worse than that when you account for the five shorties. Michigan is slightly better at 19.4. On the penalty kill, UNO is 21st at 83.2; Michigan is still in the top five despite the disaster in the dying minutes against Wisconsin.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Maybe Caporusso? Caporusso scored a softie against Bowling Green and then added a close-in roof job when left totally unmolested in the slot. When left wide open he has soft hands, and when he's going up against weak defensemen his less than dirty dangles work fairly well. Against a mediocre defensive team with an iffy goalie, he could continue his return to the scoresheet.
Get it out. Michigan really struggled with a simple Bowling Green forecheck on Tuesday and they'll get hammered by a deep forward corps if they don't do better.
See what happens. Goalie is bad, throw rubber at him and watch it sail by or for fat rebounds to pop out. Reduced fancy stuff for most.
The Big Picture
The blown opportunities against Ferris State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State—though that last was not their fault—mean Michigan is on its eighth life. Michigan's 0.5253 RPI is 19th nationally and has to climb into the high .53s if they're going to get a shot. If they win five of six left they'll be at .5360 and probably on the right side of the bubble. If they win four, they might have a shot if they make the CCHA final and lose. Any worse than that and it's conference tourney or bust.
There is some good news. A quick glance at Michigan's PWR comparisons shows that Yale, Union, North Dakota, New Hampshire, UMD, Ferris State, Cornell, Bemidji State, Colorado College, Denver, and even Michigan State(!) can all be caught if Michigan passes them in RPI. There is zero chance that happens with some of them but if Michigan finishes on a tear the COP and TUC categories aren't going to submarine them.
Still: a sweep is imperative. The margin for error is gone, and splitting with UNO could put them and Michigan's hypothetically meh record against them into consideration.
"My only hope is that the big Lebowski kills me before the Germans can cut my dick off."
2/6/2010 – Michigan 2, Wisconsin 3 – 16-13-1
When I first started following Michigan hockey, Michigan had this unbelievable streak of not giving up third period leads. It stretched back and back and back and was some ridiculous number that may have been in the triple digits and the last team to actually overcome a Michigan lead in the third period was Illinois-Chicago, a team that didn't even exist anymore.
That record fell by the wayside some time ago and now seems as distant of a memory as UIC hockey itself.
It's not like it's a surprise at this point but I'd really prefer a straight-up stomping to taking the lead in the third, thinking about a manageable stretch run if the team takes care of Bowling Green on Tuesday, dreaming about extending Michigan's record run of tourney appearances to 20, and then giving up two power play goals to the same guy in the same spot within a few minutes of each other.
If they'd just get run out of the building you can get over it and move on. The basketball team has had the decency to do so of late, releasing me from the obligations to care about Wisconsin's unconscious three-point shooting aside from instant reactions like "Jesus," "oh come on," "you cannot possibly be serious," and "did someone slip me LSD?" (Have you ever seen a guy launch a half-court shot and thought to yourself "oh God, that's going in too"? At one point in the second half I complained that Wisconsin was shooting 70 percent from three and thought I was wildly exaggerating to make a point; they were actually 11/15 at that point: 73 percent.)
I digress. The hockey team has made a specialty of this sort of thing. A late penalty doomed them against Ferris State. They managed to blow a one-goal lead against a dire Bowling Green team by conceding bang-bang third period goals. Bryan Hogan wandered out of his net to blow a tie with BU with 2:30 left. Hogan got pulled and his backup conceded what I hear was an unbelievably soft goal at the GLI. You've got an Alaska tie and the 5-4 win over State on the other hand, but the State win almost doesn't count since they blew a 3-0 lead to get themselves in the predicament they overcome. Michigan has lost ground late in games.
It's not really a surprise given the way the team has played. They're wildly variable, sloppy, penalty-prone, etc. But when the names get called on Hockey's selection show and Michigan is, in all likelihood, absent, it will be the last ten minutes of the third that did them in.
Michigan's dropped to 19th in RPI and 20th in the Pairwise. They have to win six of seven down the stretch to give themselves a chance, I think. They might be able to win five and then lose in the CCHA final, but that will be touch and go. Probably. The PWR has so much jitter that any prognostication more than a week or two from the end of the season is vague. It comes down to the TUCs.
- Apparently the Michigan coaching staff was very unhappy with the late penalties on Summers. MVictors tweeted Mel Pearson's response: "You won't see that call 9 out of 10 times." I don't know about that. Like Greg, I assumed Pearson was talking about the second call, when Summers was penalized for a routine defensive play when he was in good position. I thought the tripping call was legit.
- My main ref bitch is that Wisconsin should have had at least one guy gone for dangerous plays along the boards: the hit on Hagelin that was called a cross check should definitely been five and a game and the elbowing call Scooter took was borderline at best.
- No Lee Moffie? If you're going to put in Llewellyn, I guess that's fine, but Moffie's been playing really well and I'd think an error-prone Greg Pateryn would be the guy to get the gate. Maybe he got injured against BG.
- At this point how Louie Caporusso ever scored 24 goals is the mystery, not his season-long slump. His dangles don't work and he tries them all the time. He did have some nice forechecking moments against Wisconsin, but that's kind of the point, isn't it? Even if TJ Hensick had some crazy forechecks in a game no one would remember them because he would have done a bunch of other crazy stuff.
- Good for Scooter to get that goal; he's deserved it the way he's played this year. Might be playing himself into an A for his senior year.
- Torrent is here if you're a masochist or Wisconsin fan.
STANLEY CUP BABY PEERS INTO YOUR SOUL
STANELY CUP BABY: Hey.
TOM HAMMOND: Hey.
1/29/2010 – Michigan 2-ish, Michigan State 3-ish – 14-12-1, 9-9-1-0 CCHA
1/30/2010 – Michigan 5, Michigan State 4 – 15-12-1, 10-9-1-0 CCHA
I feel kind of bad that when you google former CCHA referee Kevin Langseth's name the first three hits are:
- A post on this blog titled "People Better At Their Jobs Than Kevin Langseth" featuring Stephen A. Smith, Carrot Top, the FEMA director during Hurricane Katrina, William Henry Harrison and, most lethally, Nickelback.
- A duplicate of that post with some useless html doohickeys on the end.
- A duplicate of that post from the Notre Dame message board that reposts my RSS feed in full.
Thanks to me, Langseth is in need of some serious online brand management. Then I go back and click the link to the Yost Built post which I let stand as explanation and the red mist descends and all I remembered is mustachioed walrus incompetence and I shake my head. That post came in the aftermath of a game against Ohio State in which 1) an OSU player kicked a goal in* and 2) a goal that banked in off Louie Caporusso's chest was inexplicably disallowed by Langseth despite the fact that there was a senior official in an excellent spot to make a call. Michigan lost by a goal. It was the second important game that year—a game against Notre Dame was the first— in which Michigan had lost by a goal in a game where two blatantly incorrect decisions to allow or disallow goals had gone against them.
Langseth hasn't been seen around Yost this fall; I assume he decided having rabid bloggers seriously damage his online brand wasn't worth it and is now in the nascent stages of a lucrative career selling mustache grooming accessories. The senior official in an excellent spot was Matt Shegos.
So now Michigan has a man-advantage with just over two minutes to go and a chance to pull off a huge comeback on the road. Just after the penalty expired, Chris Brown was standing in the slot. The puck hit him and bounced down, through the legs of Drew Palmisano, and into the net. Like, straight through the legs of Palmisano. We're not talking pinballing. We're not talking the puck died between his legs but was still loose and someone jammed it in. It hit Chris Brown, bounced down, went right through Palmisano into the net.
Shegos somehow missed this and blew the play dead within milliseconds of the puck going underneath Palmisano. The whistle may not have gone until the puck was in the net (I'm not sure), but thanks to the most retarded rule in sports--the play is dead when it's dead in the referee's mind, not when he blows the whistle--you can't review it.
Son of a.
What's the story of the weekend when Michigan claws back from 3-0 down to tie and manages to blow its own 3-0 lead only to charge back with a season-rescuing win at Joe Louis? "Hey, maybe we can do this thing." What's the story now? Yost Built, let your graphic stylings roam free!
That's inescapable. Michigan split the weekend and ended up dropping a slot in the pairwise. If we're looking at RPI, as we usually do this far out, the #14 team has a 0.5385. Here's what they have to do to approach that:
Win seven and a half of nine.
I don't even know what to say. Shegos is clearly the best ref in the league. He still made a huge, game changing error that was so far beyond plausible that I'd rather have the rotating cast of drafted linesmen and guys I've never seen before—the pool Langseth was taken from—in charge.
*(Since this rule changes every two months and is different in every league across the continent, let me clarify how egregious this was: at this moment in history the NCAA rule on kicking the puck in was "anything that touches an offensive player's skate and goes into the net as a result is disallowed." Intent, kicking motions, all that stuff: irrelevant. Skate –> net –> disallowed.)
Holy God was Michigan bad on Friday. Even getting in a position to tie that game was a minor miracle after two and a half periods had yielded maybe three or four scoring chances and probably double or triple that number for Michigan State. It was the reverse of the Ferris weekend, where Michigan played an excellent game Friday and a totally gross one Saturday. The Saturday Ferris and Friday State games were identical down to the final-ish score and the late, ultimately unsuccessful (-ish) Michigan comeback.
Hogan's save percentage speaks for itself. I've been arguing with people about how much culpability Bryan Hogan has for Michigan's crappy record all year, and I think the soft shortie against Ferris and the fat rebounds he kicked out all weekend against State are evidence enough that the reason Hogan has a .902 save percentage—54th nationally of 77 qualifying goalies—is mostly that he's not playing well.
The other idea was that Michigan gives up a small quantity of high quality shots. That may have some truth to it, but every study that serious hockey bloggers have undertaken suggests that relative save percentage is a seriously meaningful way to compare goalies, and Hogan is not doing well in that.
Persons of note. I don't think Chris Brown's at the point where he could pull a Pacioretty and leave just as he turned into a ninja, but I am a little concerned the NHL will look at his corner-friendly frame and willingness to take a beating in front of the net and scoop him up before his time. Except—hey—he's a Coyotes draft pick. The 'Yotes are either cheap or patient or wise or all three and have left their last three Michigan draft picks in school for all four years. That might not be a huge surprise with Kevin Porter or Chad Kolarik, both mid-round picks, but Chris Summers was a first-rounder. First round picks who play four years at Michigan are rare indeed.
Anyway, the reason to fret is that Brown's been the most effective freshman forward on the team in a way unfamiliar to Michigan fans: by being huge and ornery. The last Wolverine to score so many dirty crease goals was Brandon Kaleniecki. Kaleniecki was a highly effective player over the course of his career at Michigan despite not having the talent Brown does—Kal was never drafted and never made it out of the ECHL post-college—and a huge version of him seems like a nice player to have around for four years. He's already displayed more scoring touch than Eric Nystrom ever did, if only because he'll put his nose in wherever it needs to go and is handy with a deflection.
Summers, meanwhile, finally put his speed to good use on a rush that got AJ Treais an easy tip-in goal. I don't think he's lived up to expectations as a senior captain—he's been good, but seems far short of the All-American level you'd expect a senior first-round pick would reach.
Weekly Oh My God, Are We Going To Miss The Tourney update was actually covered above in the midst of near-weekly If I Was As Bad As My Job As CCHA Referees Are I Would Be Drew Sharp rant: Michigan's split with Michigan State did zero for them. They are basically where they were before the Ferris State series with four fewer opportunities to drag themselves out of the muck.
This week: must sweep BGSU in the weird split series and a win over Wisconsin would be a huge help.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Michigan State|
|WHERE||Friday @ Munn Ice Arena
Saturday @ Joe Louis Arena
|WHEN||Friday @ 7:05PM EST
Saturday @ 7:35PM EST
January 29/30, 2010
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||Friday on Big Ten Network
Saturday on FSD (HD!)
Record. 16-8-4, 11-5-4-1 CCHA. #13 PWR. #11 KRACH. Currently second place with 38 points. Michigan is ten points back in seventh, but has two games in hand. 18th in PWR, 16th KRACH.
The Spartans have done most of their damage against weaker opponents. Outside of the previous series with Michigan, the Spartans are 1-6-3 against teams under consideration—the top 25 in RPI. The first two teams out right now are CCHA teams MSU is 2-1-1 against, though. In any case, Michigan State has been decidedly mediocre against quality competition and lethal against 1) bad teams and 2) Michigan. KRACH has their schedule strength 23rd; Michigan is 17th.
State's been streaky. Their recent streak is the bad sort, as they've gone 1-2-2 in their last five and now find themselves squarely on the NCAA bubble. If the season ended today everyone would be very surprised and State would either be one of the last teams in or first teams out depending on how the conference tournaments went.
Before that, State ripped off five straight wins, albeit against BGSU, Michigan Tech, RPI, and Lake State. Only one of those teams—Lake State—is not bad, but Michigan's managed to lose to two of the bad ones this year so hurray.
Dangermen… literally. Well, you're not going to like this except as an example of Michigan State's willingness to tolerate anything, but Corey "Practicing My Golf Swing On Your Head" Tropp is Michigan State's leading scorer. By all rights he should be in the CHL with his goon buddy or playing a year in the USHL in preparation for a transfer somewhere far away, but Second Chance U doesn't care what you did the first time around.
Anyway. Tropp has a 17-19-36 line and, though he hasn't scored in a while has continued to pile up assists. Freshman Derek Grant has 10-17-27 and junior Andrew Rowe has 11-10-21. From there it's a pile of guys with five or so goals. Nick Sucharski has seven but appears to be a minimal threat outside of the power play, where he's got five.
Michigan will attempt to match Hagelin against the Tropp line as often as possible, I'm assuming. They are the home team at the Joe this year so they'll get one night where that's a possibility.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. It's been a weird year for Michigan State, which has plenty of 0, 1, and 2 goal games to its credit but also gave up five to Maine, seven(!) to Wisconsin, and has yielded 18 goals in this recent rough patch. For the first time in the history of the universe, Michigan is scoring less and giving up fewer goals than State.
Spartan goalie Drew Palimsano isn't quite at the level of Ferris State goal Pat Nagle, but he's not that far off. He's in a three-way tie for 7th in save pecentage with a .927; Brian Hogan improved last weekend to .906 despite giving up a really terrible shorthanded goal.
On defense, Jeff Petry has rebounded from a dire sophomore season to post 3-18-21 and has actually gotten his plus minus above zero (+5) after his epic –31 last year, but it's a couple of younger players—sophomore Matt Carndell and freshman Zach Josepher—leading the defensemen in +/- at +10 and +11, respectively. (Yes, yes, +/- is a pretty dumb stat, but it's all we've got for college hockey.)
Special teams. Power plays for and against:
|PP For / G||5.4||5.8|
|PP Ag / G||5.2||5.4|
Michigan has a slight advantage, but only slight. When it comes to the specialty units' efficiency, though, Michigan has a clear advantage. Their penalty kill has slipped to 5th nationally but Michigan State's is basically average at #24. Neither powerplay is gang busters but Michigan does have a slight advantage, converting 19.7% of its opportunities to Michigan State's 18.5. State has also given up two more. Michigan is +1 in shorthanded goals; Michigan State is even.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Be careful in the neutral zone. State tends to back off on the forecheck pressure in favor of sitting in passing lanes when you try to break out and Michigan's been pretty turnover-prone this year. They're also short on guys who can stickhandle past the first opponent and open up space—that's basically Chad Langlais and zero other players—so dumping the puck might be a frustratingly common occurrence. Or, worse, not dumping the puck and turning it over in a dangerous spot.
I'm extra concerned about this after the last weekend, where the Friday night game was acres of open ice and cross-ice passes galore. Those things will get picked off against State.
Be seriously aggressive on the forecheck. State's defense corps consists of Petry (a junior) and six freshmen or sophomores. With Michigan's speed up front they can probably force their share of crippling turnovers or draw some penalties.
Keep your composure. Always difficult against MSU, worse when Tropp is going to be out there, worse still when you've dropped the last two against them and are playing for your season, essentially.
The Big Picture
This is the biggest series left in the season for many reasons. One: it's Michigan State. Two: a sweep puts the MSU-UM pairwise comparison back in play; anything short of that and Michigan basically can't win it unless the two teams meet in the CCHA playoffs. (And even then Michigan will probably have to get three points this weekend.) Three: Michigan can drop two, maybe three games in the eleven they have left and still have a reasonable chance of a bid without a CCHA tourney championship. Aside from the Wisconsin game, these two are the toughest left on the docket.
So… basically like last week: a split does nothing good or bad for Michigan, which is bad when you're on the wrong side of the bubble. A win and a tie helps but not nearly as much as a sweep.
The goal differential says "split"…
Team GP GF GF/G GA GA/G MARGIN
8 Michigan State 28 92 3.29 67 2.39 0.89 9 Michigan 26 81 3.12 58 2.23 0.88
…but performance since the holiday break gives Michigan some hope that they'll come away with something more than that. Also, Michigan's put up that margin against a slightly tougher schedule. Then again, performance in the previous series argues they won't do better.