at least it's not just us?
2/4/2011 – Michigan 2, Miami 4 – 17-8-4, 14-6-1 CCHA
2/5/2011 – Michigan 0, Miami 3 – 17-9-4, 14-7-1 CCHA
Over the weekend Miami paid tribute to tragically deceased team manager Brendan Burke by kicking Michigan's ass; Michigan paid tribute to not-very-tragically departed Tristin Llewellyn by having a team-wide contest to see who could take the stupidest penalty. Your winner was David Wohlberg, who slammed a Miami player into the boards on an icing call. Michigan had just blown a one goal lead and trailed by one with three minutes left, and I wasn't even surprised. The next night Michigan managed maybe three scoring chances in a 3-0 loss that tempted me to use the word "pathetic" despite its association with internet troglodytes.
So this is definitely an overreaction: that kind of felt like the beginning of the end of the Red Berenson era. I know what the instant reaction to that thought is because I had it too, but after I recoiled at the thing it sat there leering and never scoring any goals it appeared to mean. It's still there. It's horned and pitchforked. It's eating all my cheese dip. I hate it. It knows this, does not care, and refuses to leave.
Let's review the facts:
- In the last billion games Michigan has scored four goals, all of which were shots from defensemen that pinballed around the offensive zone like they were in that famous HORSE game between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Each struck at least three goats before entering the net.
- The best player on the team is the four-foot walk-on goalie who's gone from a terrifying liability to the reason Michigan hasn't lost all of the last billion games in which they scored four goals.
- Despite being coached by another four-foot tall person, this one so goofily hairy that he has to shave every six hours lest he drown in his own beard, Miami has the top two scorers in the country and is 10-6-1 against Michigan in the past X years. Michigan has been swept in Oxford the last three times they've visited.
- The four goals scored have mostly zinged past seniors, and while all of them not named Scooter or Carl have been disappointing the incoming recruiting class consists of a hyped goalie and then guys who are mostly last-minute additions. They seem likely to keep Michigan above the epic .500 fray in the CCHA but not keep pace with Miami and Notre Dame.
As I was trying to figure out the "subtler qualities" this Michigan hockey team had in the midst of their streak of nine wins in ten games, Red Berenson was telling anyone who would listen this team kinda sucked and was enjoying a fluky magic carpet ride. Red Berenson may not be have Carter Camper or Andy Miele these days but he can still identify problems better than I can. Three games later Michigan's finished going 2-2 against the 10th place team in the league and was swept out of the building by the Redhawks. They're now third in the CCHA and while they've got a couple of games in hand on Miami they're two back of Notre Dame and fading fast.
Meanwhile, I've been bracing for next year as a possible end to the tourney streak ever since Lucas Lessio decided to take his talents to the OHL. Michigan loses Rust, Hagelin, Caporusso, Vaughn, Langlais, Hogan, and Winnett, and while those guys have been immensely disappointing on the whole that list has Michigan's three top scorers. Two or three defensemen are flight risks and Michigan always seems to lose one guy inexplicably. Right now next year's top line look like it could be Wohlberg-Brown-Glendening, which… man. Either Moffatt blows up or that kid too young for the NHL draft (Di Guiseppe) massively exceeds expectations or we're going to be Alaska-Fairbanks++ next year.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm guessing anyone who's watched this team closely was worried even when its winning, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It has gone thud. Now we're looking back across the last few years, seeing a narrative of erratic but generally declining play coupled with declining recruiting and a general sense of malaise as other teams in the league pass Michigan.
I'm in no way advocating a change. Red's earned the right to coach Michigan until the sun expands and engulfs the earth. I'm almost definitely freaking out because fans are always like "this thing that just happened is never going to stop happening," and unless Jim Tressel is involved that's not usually true. But it does feel right now that we're in the long decay phase every icon from Woody to Bo [era in general] to JoePa to Bowden to Mason [era in general] endures in the long slide from might to age. This Miami series was the equivalent of Football Armageddon: the moment the bad thing you hope isn't true becomes undeniable.
That doesn't mean we can't be good here and there. Since college hockey's system is weighted plinko, we could even win a national title. It won't be as a one-seed, and the days when Michigan getting swept by someone was a nuclear event are over. The near future for Michigan hockey feels like those years when they wandered into a WCHA rink against Minnesota or North Dakota in the tournament and you expected they'd lose. That feeling has lost its novelty.
Feeble, Feeble Non-Bullets
Come on, anti-jinx. Let's do this, yo. Genuine feeling about Michigan sports == Michigan sport doing its best to make me look silly. Let's do it.
Pairwise. Another weekend, another alarming slip. Michigan now hovers at 12th. Eyeballing it, they'll have to go 4-2 down the stretch and make the Joe to feel secure for an at-large. Going .500 would give them the same RPI as Western has right now. Western is 16th and the PWR is an RPI correction scheme, so that would be a coin flip. Going 4-2 would keep their RPI where it is right now and probably keep them along the 3/4 borderline.
The schedule is relatively friendly: home series against OSU and Western followed by a trip to Northern. OSU and NMU are both 9-11-2 in the league, but OSU's performed much better OOC and Northern's lucky they haven't sunk well down the league standings with their –24(!) goal differential. Western is 9-5-8 and has +11 league goal differential, which is good but not in the class of Miami. If they can't go 4-2 in those six games and then beat a team like OSU or Northern at Yost in the second round of the playoffs they won't deserve to be in the tourney anyway.
Yes, pretty much. Daily's Florek with two haunting questions:
If it’s late in the game and the Wolverines are down and call a timeout to draw up a faceoff play, whose stick does the puck end up on? And who takes a penalty shot if Michigan coach Red Berenson could choose anyone on the team?
Florek says you thought about that for too long and settled on Hagelin, which is true, and not good, and it's sad that's not good because Carl Hagelin is awesome but he needs an evil goal scoring gremlin somewhere on his team. It really burns when Michigan is consistently going up against Miami's magic midgets. Those tiny magnificent bastards used to be ours.
OH GOD FLOREK STOP ASKING QUES—
When’s the last time, somebody, literally anybody, on the Michigan team scored on a breakaway?
Dude, I can top that with "what about a cross-ice pass?" If you don't count the first Treais goal from Friday, which had already been deflected into the net by a defenseman's skate before Treais yo-ho-hoed it, it's… um?
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There's nothing productive to do so here's this. Louder Than Bombs included.
"You've Got Everything Now"
"This Charming Man"
"Hand In Glove"
"I Don't Owe You Anything"
You left / Your girlfriend on the platform
With this really ragged notion that you'll return
But she knows / That when he goes /
He really goes
"What She Said"
How come someone hasn't noticed / That I'm dead
And decided to bury me? / God knows I'm ready
"Pretty Girls Make Graves"
"The Queen Is Dead"
"The Boy with the Thorn in His Side"
"Is It Really So Strange?"
I left the South
I travelled North
I got confused - I killed a horse
I can't help the way that I feel
"I Started Something I Couldn't Finish"
"Death at One's Elbow"
Young bones groan
And the rocks below say :
"Throw your skinny body down, son !"
"Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me"
"William, It Was Really Nothing"
"Sweet and Tender Hooligan"
"Sheila Take A Bow"
Throw your homework onto the fire /
Come out and find the one you love
"Barbarism Begins At Home"
"Bigmouth Strikes Again"
"Frankly, Mr. Shankly"
But still I'd rather be famous / than righteous or holy
Any day, any day, any day
"Paint a Vulgar Picture"
"Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"
"How Soon Is Now?"
"The Headmaster Ritual"
"I Want The One I Can't Have"
"These Things Take Time"
"Stretch Out And Wait"
"Reel Around The Fountain"
"Well I Wonder"
"Vicar In A Tutu"
"There Is a Light That Never Goes Out"
"Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others"
So, if there's something you'd like to try /
If there's something you'd like to try /
ASK ME - I WON'T SAY "NO" - HOW COULD I ?
"Back to the Old House"
"You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby"
"A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours"
"I Won't Share You"
"Shoplifters of the World Unite"
"Death of a Disco Dancer"
"Girlfriend in a Coma"
YOU (IN BACK)
"That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore"
I've seen this happen in other people's lives / and now it's happening in mine
"What Difference Does It Make?"
It makes none.
"Suffer Little Children"
The passing of time / leaves empty lives
waiting to be filled
"This Night Has Opened My Eyes"
"I Know It's Over"
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
"Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want"
I just might walk home alone / But my faith in love is still devout
Too busy to read the message board? Watch it. So this happened. It is a NSFW postmodern message board conversation verbalized by xtranormal:
Listen to the British woman.
Lord of the flies. An injury update from Penn State has more bad news for the Nittany Lions:
"Latimore, I'd be doubtful if we get anything out of Eric the rest of the year, although he may be ready for a game or two. Crawford has not done anything yet. ... I doubt if he'd be ready this week. Crawford might be ready next week."
That would be Eric Latimore and Jack Crawford, the nominal starting defensive ends. Latimore will be out for Michigan, with Crawford either on the bench or gamely giving it a go. Sean Stanley's status is still up in the air after it was revealed his violation of team rules was a marijuana arrest. He's practicing with the team and I'd be shocked if a simple possession charge would keep Stanley out four games. He's already missed two. Unless there's something else going on he'll probably start in Latimore's place, with either Crawford or unimpressive journeyman Kevion Latham on the other side of the line.
If Michigan held Iowa's DEs in check, the rag-tag PSU DEs shouldn't be a problem. Michigan will have a test against Still and Ogbu on the interior.
Penn State has a bunch of walking wounded they hope to get back for Minnesota; we'll see how many do.
And now a random dumb thing a Penn State blogger said. Take it away, Some Guy At BSD:
I hope that Denard Robinson gets healthy during Michigan's bye week and starts at QB in Happy Valley Halloween weekend. Choir boy / line-dancer Tate Forcier may provide more visual fodder for the blog, but I think he's a bigger threat at QB than Robinson. Denard Robinson can run all over weak competition, but in the Big Ten, where every defense is designed to stop the run, a competent passer like Tate Forcier is actually more deadly.
This is not factually wrong so it's not Fiutakin' it, but good God. This is the worst bit about turning it over seven times in two weeks while racking up 900 yards of total offense against the #28 and #13 defenses in the country:
"It doesn't work in the Big Ten" cannot die soon enough.
This is a disturbing indictment of nothing in particular. Will Campbell is going to get a look at guard:
“He may be better-suited to play guard,” Rodriguez said.
No decision had been made, but Rodriguez said he’d convene with his coaches tonight to discuss possible position changes. …
“He’s not playing much on defense,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know if it’s possibly to switch and learn a position that quickly, but we’ll probably talk about him tomorrow. He’s got a good attitude. He’s working hard and is willing to do whatever’s best for the team.”
What does it mean? It means that ESPN was right to be skeptical of Campbell, who has a ridiculous physical package but doesn't play football very well. It was apparent to me the first time he got on the field against Iowa and immediately got gashed; freshman or not the passivity and inability to get under anyone's pads was alarming. This would be no big deal if Michigan had gotten either or both of Pearlie Graves and DeQuinta Jones a couple years ago, but since they whiffed on both the depth chart at DT is thin enough that one guy not working out leaves you a big hole after Martin.
It does not mean that Bruce Tall is an idiot who can't coach—Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen say STFU, please. Also Brandon Graham.
Not their fault, except for that one guy. The BCS computers come in for another round of bashing, this one in the New York Times. At least this time there are quotes from the guys who run the things complaining about the What About The Children decision to remove margin of victory from the metrics. That is a major source of computer rankings DERP. And this is a delightfully blunt assessment of Richard Billingsley:
“I’m not a mathematician,” Billingsley said. “I’m not even a highly educated man, to tell you the truth. I don’t even have a degree. I have a high school education. I never had calculus. I don’t even remember much about algebra. I think everyone questions everything I do. Why is he doing that? Does he know what he’s doing, a crazy kook in Oklahoma?”
The short answer is no. Billingsley’s ranking system is vilified by professional mathematicians and a subculture of amateur computer rankers.
I'm not either but I've already got my vilification in. Any attention Billingsley's inane system gets that might get it booted is welcome. I mean: "It is a simple formula, he said, because he is a simple man." This guy isn't fit to decide what to eat for breakfast, let alone who should be playing in the national title game.
Just a love machine. The MZone highlights a program from 1978 featuring the sex machine that is Mike Gittleson:
You have to admire that dedication to facial hair: 32 years without even thinking about a change. Also, yes, that Jack Harbaugh.
Hail Zoltan! Zoltan just launched the punt of the year, nay the punt of the decade:
During the Patriots OT struggle with the Ravens last Sunday, punter Zoltan Mesko may have made the punt of the year. Facing a 4th and 6 from their own 16, Mekso was called in try to bail out the Patriots.
Typically, punts from that region of the field net about 39 yards, putting the Ravens at their own 45, and it looked like the Ravens were going to win the field position battle. From there, it only takes one or two first downs to move into striking distance for a game winning FG attempt. When Mesko trotted onto the field, the Patriots' win probability (WP) was 0.33.
Mesko’s punt went for 65 yards, aided by wind and by poor fielding by the Ravens returner. When the ball came to rest on the Baltimore 19 yard line, the Patriots had gained the upper hand with a 0.54 WP. The punt was worth +0.21 Win Probability Added (WPA), an impact extremely rare for a punt that neither results in a long return nor a fumble.
Hagerup did something similar—though it wasn't in such a high-leverage situation—when he bombed one past the Iowa returner midway through Saturday's game.
Really? Iowa guy who looks at a lot of film says this:
A couple of times Iowa made good audibles and a couple of others they missed their chance to hit Michigan where it hurt. It definitely seemed the crowd noise was a factor late in this one and it made it hard to change calls at the line. I would guess they'll make some tweaks to their audible calls this week, especially on their scripted series calls.
That would be something close to unprecedented. Woo luxury boxes?
Etc.: Entertaining WSJ piece on alumni cheerleaders focuses on Michigan's homecoming festivities. Hey let's fire Turner Gill already! (Note: it took all of two months for Gill to go from a molder of men to a "Victorian-era" fuddy duddy what with his rules against ladies and cell phones. Rich Rodriguez should start a support group.) Twelve pictures to sum up TRY FIGHT
WIN. One of these five men will be Minnesota's next coach. (HT: Eleven Warriors.)
3/28/2010 – Michigan 5, Bemidji State 1 – 26-17-1
3/29/2010 – Michigan 2, Miami 3 (2 OT) – 26-18-1, season over
Indiana's state motto is "The Crossroads of America," which promises nothing more than the ability to leave it. As you do so the towns radiating northward from Fort Wayne on I-69 have ill-omened names like Angola and Waterloo and make you wish you had a heinous ex-girlfriend named Ashley or a bone to pick with Auburn, color or university, doesn't matter. There, the flat American expanse of a pitch-black highway makes prime brooding habitat. Nearby zings of color and denuded trees that make their presence known by obscuring something flashing red in the distance provide momentary focal points that slip past, their steady movement drawing the primitive sections of your intelligence and slightly distracting you from the reason you're staring grimly at a Big Lots that closed hours ago. The recent past recedes at 80 miles an hour, except five miles into Michigan where there is a cop. Fragments of your heart throw ropy pseudopods to each other and pull, slower than that. But steady.
Because 1997-98 was the year my teams had fantastic success and I had idiotic ideas, the first two Michigan hockey games I saw were a 4-0 win over New Hampshire in a national semifinal and a national championship game featuring an overtime winner from Josh Langfeld. I thought it was pretty cool, but that was all. I'd meant to get season tickets but it had slipped my mind. That year I also watched the Rose Bowl at my then-girlfriend's house. At one point her mom mentioned a Washington State touchdown would win her a quarter in squares. The GF and a mutual friend sort of tittered in a corner about things unrelated to the game. I was just a freshman. I'd go to a Rose Bowl later.
The next year I took up a residence in the Yost student section that ended only this year, six seasons after I graduated for the second and final time. Every season since there has been that crushing moment when the puck goes in the wrong goal and it's all over. Though it's hard to distinguish between levels of terror emanating from the reptilian sections of your brain, it seems to me these days the most knee-buckling moments of the sporting year come when the hockey team is playing in the NCAA tournament.
There's something different there. Each football season defines itself, and by the end it usually seems you got approximately what you deserve. A single-elimination hockey tournament after 40 games is the closest sports comes to Russian roulette. In hockey, the way you die is always a thunderbolt. And so I think the most painful part of every sports year for me is that horrible instant when the red light goes on and your whole self just deflates. I keep thinking the word "crushing," unrelated to anything else. Just an adjective, floating on the mile markers.
But the alternative to knee-buckling terror was just to not be here at all, for March to be a unbroken expanse of asphalt in the middle of nowhere. To get here is something after a 10-10 start and that ignominious road sweep at UNO that ended any hope of an at-large bid or even a bye in the CCHA tourney. I had been planning a series on what went so horribly wrong with the three major sports and was just waiting for hockey to make an undignified exit, probably at the hands of Michigan State, before embarking on it. They were just another flailing team caught in Michigan's winter of discontent, no different from a football team that can't punch it in from the one against Illinois or a basketball team that can't even turn a top-15 preseason ranking into an NIT bid.
As Michigan walked into Munn three weeks ago all 2009-10 offered was the same thing Indiana does: eventually, it ends. Now, at least, there is some redemption and schadenfreude and plain old inspiring victory, things Michigan fans needed reminding about. When it comes to the history books, this team will be one that picked itself up off the mat without its captain and starting goalie and was a heartbeat away from a Frozen Four. As it is, they picked up a banner and extended Michigan's tournament streak to twenty years.
By the end, they were Michigan hockey again. After fading badly towards the end of the third period they found their legs and terrorized Miami in overtime, launching twenty (official) shots to their six. They were struck down by bloody fortune and did not deserve their fate. They are like their compatriots before them, and will be remembered for a heroic stand. They died like Vikings.
Fifteen minutes past Angola, Indiana keeps its promise and releases you. Here, too, ends this year. Now we bury it and move on with some little hope thanks to a tiny goaltender and some feverish backchecking that point towards better days.
Obviously, this John Gravallese guy robbed Michigan of the game thanks to his galaxy-spanning incompetence. The irony of waving off a Michigan goal because you called a high-sticking penalty when 1) it's overtime and you aren't calling anything short of attempted murder and 2) amongst the zillion calls you missed in regulation were two blindingly obvious high sticking calls perpetrated by Michigan players—we clearly heard both in row 18—is head-exploding. For the wave-off to occur because you "lost sight of the puck" when zero players on the ice are reacting like the goalie has it—the goalie wasn't even down—after you allowed a Miami goal that Hunwick had pinned under his pad for a second or two is just despair inducing. At that moment my righteous anger broke and I awaited the inevitable end.
The reaction of a potentially apocryphal HE ref who knows this guy has appeared on the message board: "it happens" To which I say: look at Shawn Hunwick above and say that. "It happens" is the reaction of a failure of a person. As WolverineBoston puts it: "refs aren't humans." During the interminable replay that we knew was pointless, and the interminable (and totally impermissible) replay following that to determine whether a faceoff should be in Miami's zone or the neutral zone, we joked that they were making the refs watch the goal over and over again so they'd feel terrible. But I bet Gravallese doesn't even care.
I mentioned this after the Bemidji game, but it would be one thing if this guy was making a mockery of hockey in a the dispassionate manner of a badly malfunctioning robot. It's entirely another for him to make every call as if he is using the Hammer Of Thor to Dispense Justice To Wrongdoers. His children secretly hate him.
If you need the rule, it's been dug up here. Maybe they should change it to something less ambiguous, like getting the puck out of your zone if the opponent brings it in. No one really cares if a play is accidentally blown dead at center ice, but the ambiguity of what counts for possession is can be disastrous in the attacking zone. Forcing the team that took the penalty to clear the zone is 100% clear.
- Did we miss Ariel Bond taking a season-defining photo of the football team? She nailed the basketball season and that item above just about obviates the need for me to put all these words beneath it.
- I liked Fort Wayne's arena a lot but if they're going to have future NCAA tournaments there they need to make a change. Unlike every arena I've ever been to, at Fort Wayne the benches are on the same side of the red line, which means when one team has a short change the other has a long one. (Michigan State has benches on the opposite sides of the ice but they're also on opposite sides of the red line.) The home team gets two short and one long; the road team two long and one short. Okay, I guess, not really anything you can do about it and the higher seed did earn that privilege. But once you get to overtime you need to start alternating. Michigan was facing a long change for four of five periods in that game.
- It's not like Robbie Czarnik was great or anything while at Michigan, but seeing Jeff Rohrkemper limited to three or four shifts after the first period made me pine for a guy Michigan could throw out there as a functional fourth-line forward. After a couple early shifts from the fourth line that went poorly, Michigan abandoned them entirely in favor of occasional shifts from Scooter to give someone on the top three lines a breather; Winnett saw a shift here and there at even strength and played his usual inexplicable amount on special teams. They would have been better off dressing Moffie if that's as much as they were going to play Rohrkemper. (By the way, Czarnik is currently averaging over a PPG at Plymouth, further evidence that there's a considerable gap between NCAA and CHL hockey. Every Michigan player to leave for the CHL has seen his scoring explode as the competition level deflates. My favorite example is Jason Bailey, who had a 0-0-0 and was -11 in 19 games at M his sophomore year and scored half a PPG in 70 OHL games.)
- Shawn Hunwick finished the year 8-3 with a 1.82 GAA and a .918 save percentage against a tougher than average schedule, and late in his audition that was not an effect of his team shielding him from any and all scoring chances. The goalie competition is on for next year, and I'm guessing they'll add a freshman they can redshirt if they can find a guy they like.
- I actually screamed out "CARL" at one point in the overtime. I never use first names. I think I have a problem.
- The open thread on the game logged 1271 posts and 24k views; I am 100% positive the first is a record for MGoBlog 3.0.
- More on individuals a bit later; I'll take a look at next year soon.
If you're looking for some punishment, the Daily has comprehensive coverage with a game story, column suggesting that the team's late-season run is something to hold on to, a piece on the missed(-ish) opportunities in the first overtime that spelled doom, and a piece on the "questionable, disappointing" no-goal call. Too bad they misspelled "outrageous" and "soul-crushing." Also there is a flickr set.
*(not a typo, and no, I'm not apologizing)