"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
Michigan lacks that one pure dirty scorer. There's no Cammalleri or Comrie or Hensick on this team, nor is there a senior duo like Kolarik and Porter. The best player on the team is probably Carl Hagelin, a guy who dumps in his share of goals but gets them via dint of hard work and speed more than stickhandling through a phone booth and roofing it in close. Caporusso (right) is probably going to end up being the top scorer, and while he's talented he seems a step down from the Hobey types mentioned above. His main skills are getting himself open in dangerous positions and a deadly accurate close-range wrister that allows him to take advantage of the opportunities he gets from there.
The best guys in terms of stickhandling might actually be a pair of defensemen. According to the Daily, Berenson would like to get his freewheeling defense corps more involved in the offense this year. Yost saw signs of that last weekend,with both Langlais and Burlon putting on the pirate hats and sallying forth into the offensive zone. Langlais's ability to zip through traffic and set up the power play was reminiscent of the last guy to wear #7—Hensick—at certain points, and he was clearly looking to yo-ho-ho into the offensive zone when the opportunity presented itself. I've probably made this comparison before, but Langlais is a near clone of Eric Werner, another undersized swashbuckling defenseman who thrilled Yost with his offensive abilities.
Burlon, meanwhile, isn't quite as flashy but is ultra-composed on the puck and has an excellent shot. With those two in the lineup, Michigan will probably deploy two defenders on the top power play unit for the first time in a very long while. BONUS: the offensive dropoff from those two to Kampfer and Summers isn't particularly steep, either. What Michigan lacks in pure death scoring from the forwards they can probably make up for with defensive contributions.
Freshmen. Bullets on the new kids:
- Everyone's been calling AJ Treais a less dynamic version of TJ Hensick and that was borne out. In Hensick's debut as a Michigan player he zipped all over the ice and lit a pair of exhibition opponents up for something like five points; Treais didn't quite get that and he wasn't as dynamic but displayed hints of that kind of ability. He'll probably be stuck on the third line this year, but second power-play unit time awaits and he could hit 20 points.
- Chris Brown is a big, physical dude who needs polish. He tried the old trick where you get position on the defender and then ride in front of him across the net for a scoring chance, but instead of going across the net he went directly into the back of it. He was a second-round pick, but that's way less exciting for the college team in question when you're 6'2"; NHL guys go for size over immediate impact with regularity. Brown was good about putting the body on folks and had some flashes of offensive competence; tough to tell this early but a Ryznar or a Nystrom might be a good comparable.
- Kevin Lynch didn't do much I observed. Judgement withheld.
- I didn't notice Lee Moffie much, either, except for a few instances where he showed good poise with the puck. Another Kampfer? He's a bit bigger. He'll probably see a fair amount of healthy scratches this year, as he's the seventh defenseman.
- The two walk-ons, Jeff Rohkemper and Lindsay Sparks, didn't do a whole lot. I liked Sparks better, he seems quick and eminently capable of being an annoyance on the forecheck. He had some pop in junior, too.
Lines? The official hockey twitter threw out the following lines for Sunday's game against Windsor:
- Wohlberg, Caporusso, Czarnik
- Lebler, Treais, Winnett
- Hagelin, Lynch, Brown
- Rohrkemper, Ciraulo, Vaughan
During the season, Rust will draw into the lineup somewhere, bumping someone on the top three lines onto the fourth. Before the weekend I would have assumed this was a lock to be Lebler, but Lebler looked surprisingly good for a guy who's mostly been an end-of-roster grinder thus far.
The fourth line will be whoever the top-nine refugee is plus a blender of Glendening, Ciraulo, Vaughn, Sparks, and Rohrkemper. I'm betting on Glendening to play most of the games and everyone else to rotate, drawing in when injuries and whatnot happen.
That is a lot of depth. The nominal second line here is really the third line; a top line like that above backed up with something like Hagelin/Rust/Brown and a third line of Winnett/Lynch/Treais is a lot of scoring depth, and that's not even considering the defense, which was scratching an NHL draft pick last year and is currently Summers-Kampfer-Langlais-Burlon-Llewellyn-Pateryn. I am confident in all of those guys, though I'm not a big fan of Llewellyn's tendency towards unnecessary roughing penalties, and then you've got a scholarship kid on the bench. In all places except goal, this is the deepest Michigan team in a while.
The Blues Brothers. Okay. Okay: seriously. Okay. Remember that one guy who was really, really into Kid A in college and whenever you'd go over to his room, Kid A would be on and at first it was cool and then eventually you just dreaded it because God who wants to listen to Kid A again? I, sadly, am at that point with "Can't Turn You Loose." Ever since Jack Johnson left and Superfan sold out and there was no alpha dancing dog, the second period dancing thing has been a chaotic mess**. Then at the end of the season two years ago the entire student section started dancing, which would have made for a really cool end-of-year tradition. Instead, it happens every second period and then the students demand more and the band is playing "Can't Turn You Loose" for like ten minutes straight.
Sure, everybody loves Kid A*. But sometimes it's a little too much, proto-emo kid. You make me want to go hang out with that guy who's always watching The Breakfast Club and mouthing the lines.
*(Except me. Never got the whole Radiohead thing.)
**(In the long long ago, there was just one guy who danced. Usually it was Superfan. When Superfan was not there it fell to either 1) guy in a ridiculous costume or 2) most humorously fat guy in the section. Then Jack Johnson came along and his dad did it to the delight of all other than Jack Johnson; after Johnson left about eight different people tried to take the mantle, one of whom was just a complete failure and would not listen to reason, thus causing the long descent into Unapproved Behavior. The unwritten law, now discarded, of Can't Turn You Loose is this order:
- Jack Johnson Sr
- Frankenberry costume or penguin costume guy.
- Other humorously attired student.
- Guys dressed up like Blues Brothers
- Biggest, most ungainly guy in the section is drafted.
At no point should anyone who has ever worked for WOLV dance. YES I TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUSLY.)
Other band note. Major plus points for playing Temptation—all of Temptation—and Hawaiian War Chant in the first intermission. The You Can't Have One Without The Other duo is criminally underused across all Michigan sports and should be implemented whenever and wherever possible. Hopefully they continue that all season.
Minor ding: probably shouldn't play the Victors right before the team comes out, because then you're just going to have to play the Victors again.
2011 Recruitin'. High-end forward commit Lucas Lessio's playing at St. Mike's—the program that provided Cogliano, Caporusso, and Burlon to Michigan—in the OPJHL, but saw his OHL rights traded to another team that might have a better shot at him. The Wolverine's Bob Miller points out an interview with Lessio conducted after that trade. He's not headed for the OHL:
"I just love it there; I fell in love with it when I went to watch a game three years ago," said Lessio. "My heart's been set there probably ever since." …
"I try not to see these two seasons as an opportunity to relax knowing where I will be in two years," Lessio informed. "I always try to work hard at everything I do because if you work hard, even in practice, that's how you'll get better. Working hard should be your number one priority and then the rest of the things will fall into place so that's my number one priority when I go out there every game."
Rest of the article is worth a read; apparently Lessio just pulled out a version of this baby:
Miller also suggests that Austin Czarnik, the Michigan State decommit and last year's NTDP U-17 points leader, could be headed to an arena near you in the not particularly near future:
Heard this evening that a certain forward may who recently de-committed from wearing green and white may just wind up wearing maize and blue in the end. Cough...Austin Czarnik...cough. Info was second hand, but from a knowledgeable source.
Czarnik is one of those 5'8" puck wizards Michigan has a rich history of deploying to entertaining effect, and would be a great pickup to go with Lessio in the burgeoning 2011 class.
No bags. Bags. None of them Saturday. Don't bring bags of any variety to the stadium. You can't bring them in.
Site note! A couple tweaks: annoyed with the folk who would just post diaries because they didn't have the requisite 20 points, I removed the minimum points required to post a board thread. Q: should I have gone the other way? I can do that.
The other tweak: lightbox links that won't take you off the page now have dotted underlines so they're differentiated from regular old links.
The starting lineups. Multiple people have asked what's with the lack of starting lineup announcements, so I asked Bruce Madej. The response:
Really, it came down to timing. The idea to develop more on an exciting atmosphere prior to the game works around keeping things upbeat, quick and exciting. We only have a little over three minutes to accomplish what we are trying to do. The starting lineups were long and drawn out. Hope this helps.
I'm not exactly sure how that helps. With the starting lineups there was cheering and shouting "who cares" and now there's nothing. I've got a follow-up in.
The starting lineups part II. David Moosman was expected to start in David Molk's place if he was healthy and he is:
David Moosman is back practicing after missing last week's win over Eastern Michigan with a shoulder injury, and Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez said he'll start at center in Saturday's Big Ten opener.
“He had a good practice" Tuesday, Rodriguez said. "He’ll be ready to go."
Moosman will be replaced by John Ferrara, who played against Eastern, or by moving Huyge inside and starting Perry Dorrestein at RT. Carlos Brown is still the starter at RB as Minor tries to get over his high ankle sprain before serious opponents pop up on the schedule, and Mike Williams' ankle went from "tweaked" to "sprained"; he was in a red jersey yesterday. He might miss the Indiana game if they're being cautious.
Hurray now we have to deal with this all year. Cheap Shotty the Boiler Lineman got his one game suspension. As you might imagine, Danny Hope is displeased:
“Well, really he [Rodriguez] should worry about his own team,” Hope said Sunday. “I didn’t think Zach Reckman’s play at the end of the game was all that vicious. ... I’m sure it’s going to be brought up and we’ll address it. I don’t think he should have gone in there and jumped on that guy at the end of the play, but maybe he was hoping the ball would come loose. He was just trying to give us a chance to win.”
That last part is just as laughable as Rodriguez's assertion that Mouton was attempting to free himself. And, of course, Rodriguez is worried about his own team.
Should this guy be suspended? No. But now the Big Ten is in the position of trying to make the Mouton suspension not seem like a one-off idiotic decision based on the complaining of the Great White Fail. I'd actually prefer the hypocrisy to the new "policy."
Scoop and score? Robbie Czarnik's cousin Austin was a Michigan State hockey commit until just recently:
I had heard a rumor this past June that NTDP forward Austin Czarnik had de-committed from Michigan State, and checking the NTDP's roster today, he's now listed as uncommitted, so that would seem to confirm that.
Czarnik's stock's shot up in the past year—he was the U17's leading scorer—and decided that casting his lot with the CCHA's 11th-place team and Rick Comley (who just got a contract extension!) was unwise. Now that he's back on the market, you figure that Michigan and his brother look like an attractive option. A catch: Czarnik will skate with the U18s this year, but he's only in the 11th grade. He'll have to head to the USHL for a year before heading to college, which makes him a 2011 prospect. This means he would only overlap with his cousin for one year, and that's assuming Robbie stays all four years. (Pretty good assumption at this point, but still.) OTOH, it also means that Michigan would have plenty of room for him.
Czarnik has been drafted by an OHL team but at 5'8" and 150 pounds he's not likely to be the sort of super-hot NHL commodity for which the CHL actually makes sense. Also he probably wouldn't decommit from Michigan State, he'd just sign with the OHL team.
Elsewhere in hockey land, Lake State's coach had some interesting comments in the aftermath of the Big Ten's decision to reject Alabama-Huntsville:
Roque pointed to both the situation with Bowling Green [which almost folded] and “pressure by the Big Ten Conference” to have Big Ten member teams from the CCHA and WCHA face off more during the season. “If anything, I think our league schedule is going to change here in the next year or two as far as a few less league games to allow those schools to play each other more,” Roque said.
Wha? Michigan and Michigan State already play a game each against Wisconsin and Minnesota every year; adding more—which would be 100% for the Big Ten Network, I imagine—would bring the number of games up enough to start contemplating a quasi-official Big Ten Championship.
And there are a bunch of photos of incoming recruits Chris Brown, Kevin Lynch, and AJ Treais at HockeyPhotography.com. Aaaand and WCH's CCHA season preview pegs Michigan second. Notre Dame is picked to repeat; State picked ninth.
Etc.: Men's soccer now 7-1 heading into the Big Ten schedule. Game went from 1-1 at halftime to 5-1 at 62 minutes.