"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."
Bwahahaha. Total victory complete. Corey Tropp's last act as a college hockey player was to step on a puck and watch from the box as Michigan's hockey team ended Michigan State's season and permanently established ownership of Munn. He's signed with Buffalo, completing the storyline written by Steve Kampfer's neck, Steve Kampfer's dad, and Steve Kampfer's emphatic "THAT IS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT."
Other than another three wins at the end of the season, that could have gone no better. As a bonus, State has now lost Jeff Petry, Andrew Rowe, and Tropp early. That's three of their top four scorers. With only one player of note graduating (Nick Sucharski), a Michigan State fronted by senior versions of the above three guys could have been dangerous. Without them, the conversion into Northern Michigan is essentially complete. It'll be interesting to see how that goes; Comely did win a title there.
Karma gets full marks here. I am going to drop an actual bill in the bucket of next Mott panhandler to accost me OH GOD THERE'S ONE INSIDE THE HOU—
Meandering sentence in which your dad tells you what character is. I had one more thing I wanted to get around to when the university announced its self-imposed sanctions for the stretching stuff, the impermissible offseason workouts, and the QC staffers overstepping the NCAA's limits on their activities. It was something about how the newspaper meme about the day of Great Shame to the university was ridiculous given the picture painted by the documents. Don't take my word for it:
Football sanctions bring Michigan down to the level of other programs
It was painful and sad and historic, and depending on your point of view, maybe a bit appropriate, too.
A bowl ban and scholarship reduction are unnecessary now because the University of Michigan took something from its own football program today that it spent the last few decades espousing: It stripped away its own boast that it never committed major rules violations.
At the very least, Michigan's limited admission of NCAA violations is historic. This university has long held itself above all others for running a clean program, at least in football.
Even Wojo can't resist dipping into the Lady Macbeth pool:
There's no denying the everlasting mark on Michigan's program.
Out, damn blue dot. And that's without even touching the Free Press reaction.
Today Georgia's getting some degree of that heat after athletic director Damon Evans was stopped for DUI, pulled the Steve-Buscemi-in-Fargo ("I'd like to take care of this right here… in Brainerd"), and was discovered to have both a comely 28-year-old lass in the passenger seat and what were presumably her panties in his lap. If Gary Moeller's restaurant blow-up was Little Boy, Evans' was the 50s-era H-bomb they blew up on whichever Pacific Island had gotten uppity at the latest UN meeting.
In the aftermath, the usual. From a Dennis Dodd column that loathsomely invokes the DUI-related death of the Georgia governor's intern:
It is not the state university of Georgia’s best day, but don’t cry for the Bulldogs. Your pity and prayers are better directed to the Griner and Scott families. The only damage done, in this case, was to the school’s reputation.
Get the Picture's response to that:
The school’s reputation? Damn, why not blame the school for the George Zinkhan murders? After all, he was an employee at the time the crime was committed. That crime didn’t involve hypothetical deaths, either.
I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m not the biggest fan of Michael Adams. But it’s hard to fault him or the University for how he handled the situation after Evans’ arrest became public news. Would it reflect badly on the school if Evans remained employed by it? Sure. But that’s not how things played out.
Institutions are comprised of people that take actions, at which point the institution judges whether those actions are compatible with the values of the institution. Surprise: Damon Evans is so beyond fired.
I didn't get around to the column it because I'd said it plenty, especially in comparison to the Free Press's strategy of obfuscation, and it seemed redundant. I did gather up the above links to the running around and screaming, though, and found the apropos Big Lebowksi quote:
LEBOWSKI What. . . What makes a man, Mr. Lebowski? DUDE Dude. LEBOWSKI Huh? DUDE I don't know, sir. LEBOWSKI Is it. . . is it, being prepared to do the right thing? Whatever the price? Isn't that what makes a man? DUDE Sure. That and a pair of testicles.
This is getting long enough that I might as well have split it off so to summarize as briefly as possible: if the university has shown a character flaw in the interminable period of the Jihad it has been that of McLovin. Incompetence in a minor offense leads to flop sweat, proving that the entity in question doesn't have the stomach for hardened criminal activity.
Michigan's prompt, un-redacted release was a step that no major school had undertaken. Maybe the school's transparency was a defensive move against the inevitable FOIA, but that would have come after everything wrapped up and no one cared anymore because the announced penalties were essentially nonexistent. If other universities are any guide, could have come swathed in black ink worthy of Newspaper Blackout Poems. I'm a little pissed that I can make a reasonable comparison between McLovin and something I would like to be good at doing things, but that's what David Brandon is for.
In related extremely necessary expenditures. Michigan's bill for the investigation is hefty and growing:
According to invoices from the law firm Lightfoot, Franklin and White released this week as part of an open-records request, Michigan has paid $446,951 in legal fees and other expenses since contracting attorney Gene Marsh and others to handle its internal investigation last September.
That's for expenses through April. The university's bill is going to easily crack a half-million dollars and might end up close to a full million by the end of everything. Birkett compares that bill with some other recent investigations and finds that Michigan is on the high end of the range. UConn's paid out almost 700k, Indiana about 500k, FSU 300k, Alabama 200k. Is that a reasonable expense to get Marsh, a former head of the Committee on Infractions, so you can go in front of the committee as seriously as possible? Given the surplus the department runs, probably. Kowtow and get it over with. The committee does not like non-serious people.
Individual ticket extravaganza. With Penn State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State on the road Michigan is facing down its semi-annual lack of sex appeal on the home portion of the schedule, no offense to Iowa or Wisconsin. As a result, ticket sales are actually open to the public for the first time in a long while, though you've got to suck it up and get packages if you're going to get the good games because actual games against real opponents have to subsidize the purchase price of a I-AA.
This does not mean the season ticket waiting list has evaporated, by the way. Michigan will be done with the luxury boxes this year but the renovations to the bowl will take place next offseason. Seats and aisles are getting widened, and since moving anyone anywhere has the potential to result in mass panic the AD is holding vacated seats this season to help ease the transition. "Hot seat" prognosticators can look elsewhere for their evidence. Suggestion: 8-16.
Etc.: MI OL Jake Fisher will be dropping a decision($) soon, possibly today. Watch for the "Hello" post. A 1997 championship ring has found its way to eBay. In a move that gets a .5 Tropp, Tennessee pirates USC DE Malik Jackson away.
3/13/2010 – Michigan 5, Michigan State 1 – 22-17-1, 1-0 series
3/14/2010 – Michigan 5, Michigan State 3 – 23-17-1, 2-0 series
(Ariel Bond in the Daily)
"When I was in a barbershop quartet in Skokie, Illinois…"
The twist, if done properly, obliterates the thing you thought you were watching and replaces it with something completely different. This can redeem previously idiotic plot points, like Patrick Bateman charging down an apartment corridor, chainsaw blazing, without anyone noticing in American Psycho. Twists have enormous power. A really great one can launch an interminable directorial career even if no one ever likes another one of your movies again.
Michigan's 2009-10 season had a plot. After 37 games of erratic play, defensive breakdowns, soft goals, stopped shots, and the occasional monster performance that served only to get your hopes up so they could be suitably dashed later, we thought we were watching a movie titled "Death Wish III: You Thought Hockey Was Immune" or "500 Shots Of Bummer," for which latter I am deeply, deeply sorry.
Ah, but the twist. In the preview I mentioned that karma was busy with State's football team and had not yet attended to the Corey Tropp situation. I owe that fanciful concept an apology.
Tropp watched. He stepped on a puck in warmups and he watched Steve Kampfer and his teammates storm into Yost West, dominate on and off the ice, and forcefully boot Michigan State from the tourney bid it thought was guaranteed at midseason. After two periods, shots were 32-10. The only relevant scoring Michigan State had in the series came thanks to the generosity of Tristin Llewellyn and some iffy goaltending from a 5'6"-ish walkon.
Tropp and his entire team watched Michigan salute their students—who outnumbered Michigan State's—as they waited for no one to sing their alma mater. When the last of them headed off the ice, season over, a third of the arena gave them a "seeya." Karma has paid in full.
Never in the history of the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry has a comeuppance been so sudden, unexpected, and richly deserved. The road to 23-17-1 as been frustrating as hell, but as I raised my fist for the "hail" in the Yellow and Blue the season rearranged itself into a series of necessary evils. Tropp had to explode so his loss could be a crushing blow. Michigan had to lose to Bowling Green so the 2-7 matchup would be these two teams, and it would have to be at Munn for maximum pwnage.
Maybe not everything was necessary. Michigan didn't have to give it away late in nonconference games against BU and Wisconsin. If they hadn't Michigan would have probably punched their own ticket last weekend. As it is, they still have a mountain called Miami to climb before they can even play for a shot at the tourney. The frustration of this season is still real. But that's not what I'll remember it for anymore.
Because screw that guy in the ear, that's why. And screw the coach who thought a harsh conversation was sufficient punishment. Michigan has postgame video up and twenty seconds in someone walks up to the camera loudly declaring "THAT IS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT." He passes the camera, and the back of his jersey reads "Kampfer."
He was the last guy off the ice. That's what I'll remember.
The sweep shot Michigan from 25th to 16Wth in the Pairwise and made the possibility of an at-large bid at least worth checking, but as of yet no one's put together a scenario in which Michigan splits at the Joe and manages to make the tourney.
Alabama-Huntsville winning the last CHA tournament moves the line to make to at least 14, and it will be 13 unless Cornell wins the ECAC, and it's really hard to move up by going .500, even against good competition. So Michigan will have to flip at least three comparisons. I don't see that happening. Sioux Sports has a new view where you can see the comparisons at a glance and it appears that Michigan has flipped all the comparisons they're going do. Actually going through the individual comparisons is blindingly painful: each common opponents category is a litany of missed opportunities. If Michigan wins two of the games they gave away—BU, BGSU, Ferris, UW, etc etc—over the course of the year they're probably a solid three seed.
That didn't happen, though, and it's win or go home.
- Finally the Big Ten Network comes through: Friday's game against Miami is at 8 and is on BTN HD.
- From time to time in Billy Sauer's first two years—when he was clocking with a season save percentage under .900—I felt panicked any time the opponent entered the zone, let alone put a harmless shot on net. That panic was orders of magnitude greater Saturday as Shawn Hunwick gamely tried to avoid blowing the above, awesome storyline in whatever way he could. That wander out of the net nearly killed me, and for large portions of the third he appeared to be throwing his glove out aimlessly.
- I'm all for Hunwick as a concept but when your coach is calling you Rudy, there's not really any question about who the starting goalie is. Hogan (and Summers) "should have a chance to play" on Friday according to one of the assistants on WTKA, and while they're making noises about it being a tough call I will assume that Hunwick in net means Hogan is not ready to go.
I wonder how the guy who inexplicably knocked Langlais in the preview post by way of defending Tristin Llewellyn—who wasn't even mentioned—is going to justify that in the comments. It's the internet, after all. Changing your mind is not allowed. And this guy suggested that Eric Elmblad was a better option than Langlais, so he's not one of those people who is sane.
Llewellyn was in the box for all three Michigan State goals on Saturday, the first two of which came when Llewellyn ignored a loose puck he could clear out of the zone to drive some guy into the boards… on a penalty kill! Bler. The tripping call he took later was just a run-of-the-mill penalty anyone could have taken; the first was totally insane.
[Update! Llewellyn is +9 in the tournament! No one wants to play against him after he takes two penalties that make a laugher a tie game!]
- Over the past couple week's I've been talking myself into the idea that Michigan could be really good next year based on their goal differential (now 10th nationally), the relatively light losses Michigan should experience this offseason, and Michigan's still-killer recruiting class.
On that recruiting class, specifically the defense: Michigan loses Kampfer and Summers to graduation. They bring in John Merrill, Mac Bennett, and Kevin Clare. Merrill will be a first round pick in the upcoming NHL draft. Bennett was already drafted in the third round by the Canadiens. And Clare is a polished stay-at-home defenseman who will probably go sometime in the middle rounds. Michigan is going to be scratching two scholarship defensemen unless someone moves to forward. So… should Langlais move to forward? He's probably the best puckhandler on the team right now and if he can adapt to the forward spot I envision him setting up Caporusso for his lethal wrister plenty. At a generous 5'9" he doesn't have an NHL career that would screw up.
Would you rather scratch Rohrkemper or one of the freshmen defensemen/Llewellyn?
- Lebler is probably replaceable but that "probably" is a testament to how well he's played as a senior. When he came to Michigan he had, I believe, 14 points his final year of junior. He's mixed grinding boardwork, big hits, and the occasional impressive snipe to best that considerably the last two years. He's developed to the point where I'm a little worried about his departure when Michigan has the #2 pick in the OHL draft and Jacob Fallon coming in. He's a totally different player but I'd compare his career track to John Shouneyia, a guy who started slow and was never a star but developed into a very good college player by the end of his tenure.
- How about that Caporusso goal on Friday? I talked to like four people about it and everyone invoked Hensick. That's the kind of stuff that's been almost totally absent from not only Caporusso's game but that of the whole team. I still remember goals Hensick and Cammalleri and Comrie scored, and I'll remember Caporusso's cruise through the slot. Hopefully that, and the ridiculous tear he continues to be on, carries over into next season.
- …assuming that there is one. I don't think he's at a point where a team is going to scoop him up but it's vastly more possible now than it was midseason. He's a Senators draftee and went at the end of the third round in his draft year, FWIW.
- I missed this when it happened, but apparently someone printed up a long screed against Comley when he didn't dress a senior defenseman on Senior Night. Said defenseman, who hadn't played all year, immediately quit the team, and his girlfriend or a relative went all manifesto.
|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.