Really crunched for time this week so I don’t have a column-like thing to lead off with. Instead, please enjoy these non-sequiturs from Alex Guptill and Delonte’ Hollowell.
I love the all-caps philosopher. So true.
Ohio State at #13 Michigan
Friday, February 28, 2014
OSU 1 UM 0 04:26 EV
Schilkey from Niddery
Ohio State carries the puck through the neutral zone and gain the offensive zone, where it looks like the puck carrier is going to cut to the middle. That shouldn’t be a problem; Serville can take the guy skating towards the outside while Sinelli checks the guy in front of him.
Instead this turns into a lesson in why one shouldn’t chase the puck carrier. Sinelli gets caught up in his own feet trying to go front-to-back, but Copp’s close enough to check the puck carrier. Serville should stay in the circle that I’ve drawn around him and check the OSU player in said circle.
He skates all the way over, leaving the side of the front of the net exposed. Sinelli eventually fills the void, but he doesn’t notice the forward (Schilkey) who’s coming in with speed until it’s way too late.
I call this screenshot “Lost in Spacing.” Which is a stupid, punny way of saying hey maybe the defensemen shouldn’t defend an area with the same five-foot radius.
OSU 1 UM 1 19:31 EV
Guptill from Compher
OSU 2 UM 1 10:00 PPG
Szczechura from Jardine & Jedig
Lynch does a good job of getting back across the ice and into shot blocking position. He gets his stick in the shooting lane, and Jardine’s shot deflects off of it.
It takes a strange bounce, and Szczechura comes in behind the play to tap it into the net.
OSU 2 UM 2 14:44 EV
Guptill from Allen
Allen wins a battle in the corner and rifles an incredible pass to the slot for Guptill.
Guptill’s initial shot is stopped, but Tomkins gives up a rebound off of his left pad. Guptill is right there to put the puck up and over the already-butterflyed Tomkins.
#13 Michigan at Ohio State
Sunday, March 2, 2014
UM 1 OSU 0 02:26 PPG
Kile from Copp & Downing
Copp has the puck at the top of the circle, and you can see that Michigan has two players in front of the net. They’re there, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re screening the goaltender.
That does not, however, mean that the netfront players are in a bad position. Copp shoots, and the puck goes in off of a redirection from the blade of Kile’s stick.
UM 2 OSU 0 7:03 PPG
Moffatt from Copp & Downing
OSU is in a traditional box on the penalty kill. Looking at the red arrows below, you can see that none of the sticks that OSU players have in the passing lanes dissuade Copp from passing to a wide-open Moffatt.
Moffatt puts a great shot on net, but credit Kile for setting a great screen in front of Tomkins.
UM 2 OSU 1 3:03 EV
Gust from Niddery & Healey
Downing gives up the puck after getting run over in the defensive zone. OSU picks it up and moves the puck through the neutral zone. They end up on a break with a 2-on-none advantage.
De Jong almost gets back on the backcheck but, like, doesn’t. Racine’s in a bad position; his stick is out like he thought about poke-checking Niddery before he passed. He vainly tries to apply that poke-check to Gust, but Gust just puts the puck over Racine’s blocker.
UM 3 OSU 1 6:12 PPG
DeBlois from Guptill & Nieves
Nieves misses a shot high and wide that then ends up in the corner. Guptill gets it and passes to DeBlois in the slot. OSU’s defenders are a step too deep, and they can’t do anything to stop the one-timer.
UM 3 OSU 2 17:45 PPG
Angeli from Jardine & Gedig
OSU enters the zone with speed. Like, lots of speed.
Angeli runs over Racine and the puck somehow goes in. Sigh.
Circled below: a centaur, but worse.
UM 4 OSU 2 10:30 PPG
Di Giuseppe from Clare & Nieves
The defender circled above in red is shaded off of Di Giuseppe, instead choosing to check Guptill. This leaves Di Giuseppe open on the outside. Clare, playing his signature point position on the power play, moves the puck down to PDG.
PDG one-times the puck into the open corner of the net before Tomkins can flinch. Di Giuseppe cathartically jumps for joy after he scores.
UM 4 OSU 3 11:49 EV
Jardine from Niddery & Johnson
Racine stops the first shot and the rebound bounces all the way out to the faceoff circle. That’s actually not that dangerous, but this still ends in a goal. Jardine gets the puck near the blue line, holds it, and then unleashes a big shot that beats Racine (who stays upright for too long).
Before you read this I want you to stare at the picture below for at least five seconds. I’m not kidding. Five seconds. You’re going to need it to peruse a sweep that felt so close but yet was so, so far from being anything but two Minnesota wins.
Image via cardmine.co.uk
#10 Michigan at #2 Minnesota
Friday, February 14th, 2014
UM 0 Minnesota 1 05:29 EV
Kloos from Condon & Parenteau
DiGiuseppe tries to make a play along the boards, but Minnesota retains possession of the puck. Condon sees Kloos coming through the neutral zone with speed and passes it up to him.
As Condon reaches the blueline he has two options; drive the middle of the zone and try to split the defenders or skate to the outside. Credit where credit’s due, Michigan’s defenders have this 2-on-2 under control positionally. They force Condon to the outside.
It looks to me like Downing gets faked into thinking that Condon is about to take a shot and drops to a knee to block it. Condon sees this and walks around Downing, who can only stretch his stick out in a vain attempt at poke checking the puck away.
Racine is relatively square to the shooter yet still gets beat farside. This scoring chance starts because of a blown defensive play, but it’s completed on an average shot that Racine misses.
UM 0 Minnesota 2 01:19 EV
Fasching from Warning & Rau
So much of this game comes down to timing. Pinching down for a big hit away from the puck usually doesn’t end well, but doing so against Minnesota’s track team of forwards just isn’t the time to do so. This hit leaves Clare behind the play and gives Minnesota an easy opportunity to enter the neutral zone with speed.
Fasching has a breakaway; after he swims through the D there’s no way either defender will catch him
Racine doesn’t want to get beat over his glove or blocker, so he doesn’t butterfly until Fasching’s practically in front of the crease. This leaves his five hole open, and that’s precisely where Fasching tucks the puck (though that’s not what he meant to do; if you look at the replay he clearly intended to make another move before the puck just rolls off his stick). Clare’s timing was off, Racine’s timing was off, everybody in blue’s timing was off and look where the puck ends up.
UM 1 Minnesota 2 09:45 PPG
Copp from Compher & Bennett
Compher has the puck at the point and looks like he’s going to pass to the right faceoff circle until he doesn’t. Instead he backhands an insanely beautiful pass to Copp.
Copp one-times the puck farside. Thanks to a nice little netfront screen Wilcox isn’t ready for the puck, and Michigan gets on the board.
UM 1 Minnesota 3 09:51 EV
Michigan wins the faceoff, and the puck rolls back to Downing. Pretty innocuous start to a play.
Downing tries to make a D-to-D pass but fans on it. This is a problem because, like, look.
Cammarata has too much speed to be caught by either defenseman. He skates it in and scores five hole on Racine which ughhhhhh recurrent theme I don’t like.
UM 1 Minnesota 4 17:29 PPG
Ambroz from Warning & Marshall
There’s potential for this to have played out differently if Copp doesn’t move his stick. At the onset of the play he has his stick inside his body in an attempt to cut off a pass to the slot. He quickly swings it outside to dissuade the puck handler from passing to the point, but this opens up the shot into the slot. Warning takes what he’s given and this is tipped in front by Ambroz.
UM 2 Minnesota 4 18:35 PPG
Compher from Copp & Bennett
A really nice outlet pass from Bennett gets the puck to Copp in the neutral zone. The defender squares up to Copp near the blueline. Copp sees Compher a step ahead but holds up his pass as he gains entry to the offensive zone. The defender steps towards Copp, and once he’s sure that the defender has committed he passes across to Compher.
Just look at how much room Compher has to make a move. The only defender in front of him is plying centerfield and has to come across the slot to attempt to check Compher, but there’s no way that’s going to happen before Compher shoots. He releases the puck and beats the goaltender high; like, pop the water bottle up high.
UM 3 Minnesota 4 02:47 EV
Hyman gathers the puck from a scrum in the corner and turns it toward the goal. He has one defender standing between him and the goaltender.
He pulls the puck around the defender and then has to deal with a poke check from the goalie.
Hyman somehow avoids the poke check and snaps a shot past the outstretched Wilcox.
This goal was what Mike Hart would look like if he was a goal.
Photo via mgoblog. Fuller? Upchurch?
UM 3 Minnesota 5 15:21 EV
Guertler from Reilly & Lettieri
What at first looks like an incredible defensive play turns into a big mistake and the final nail in Michigan’s coffin. Tyler Motte is without his stick and tries to Kirk-Maltby-circa-2002 this one out of the zone. I have captured here the exact moment that Brian screamed “JUST HAND PASS IT!!!!!”
Minnesota regains possession and passes the puck down low, where Minnesota is already in behind the defense.
Credit Reilly with an incredible move behind the net. He spins and dishes the puck to the slot, where Guertler is waiting to one-time it. Racine is guarding the post because he thought that Reilly was going to shoot, so he’s out of position to stop the shot from Guertler.
Saturday, February 15th, 2014
UM 1 Minnesota 0 01:31 EV
Sinelli from Hyman & Nieves
Nieves moves the puck to Hyman, who enters the offensive zone and is outmanned. He waits for Sinelli, dropping a pass back to him.
Sinelli takes a shot from high in the offensive zone and scores. That’s about the extent of the analysis I can provide for this goal. Hockey, man.
UM 1 Minnesota 1 17:46 EV
Warning from Rau & Fasching
Minnesota chips the puck in and gains possession again in Michigan’s defensive zone. Minnesota has a 2-on-1, with the skater getting behind the defense.
The netfront defender for Michigan does a good job of using his stick to take away the passing lane. This forces the shot, but having a skater behind the D comes in to play in the next frame.
Warning is able to (barely) get a stick on the shot, redirecting it past Racine. There’s no way Racine can stop a deflection this close to the net.
UM 1 Minnesota 2 02:53 EV
Reilly from Guertler & Lettieri
Minnesota chips it out of their own zone and then…this.
Well, at least the pass was well defended. The slap shot, however, was not. It hits the top corner above Racine’s glove.
UM 1 Minnesota 3 15:20 EV
Condon from Lettieri
Bennett tries reverse the puck to Downing, but the puck hits the boards and just dies. There’s no one in front of him, so he should have just tried to rim it out.
Minnesota swoops in and retrieves the puck. This draws the attention of the two defensemen, as well as the nearest forward. Minnesota starts their cycle.
There are three Michigan players bunched in the corner, and a Minnesota player who’s about to take a pass and skate freely into the crease. 3MichDbehindplay+1MinnOpen≠Good.
Condon’s shot deflects off of Selman’s stick and goes in high on Racine.
UM 1 Minnesota 4 08:37 PPG
Fasching from Rau & Boyd
It’s a power play goal against. It happens somewhere in the circled area after the first two shots were stopped. It is largely irrelevant.
I wish I had some witty intro for you all this week but I really don't. It's been a really busy week, and between a tough week of class and a family member who was unexpectedly hospitalized (everything's alright now) I'm just happy to have this done. I still managed to find spots to make fun of both teams, so hopefully you'll still find it enjoyable.
#12 Michigan vs. #9 Wisconsin
Friday, January 31st, 2014
UM 1 Wisc 0 13:10 EV
Motte from Nieves
Copp passes to Moffatt in the slot, whose shot is stopped and brushed aside into the corner.
Wisconsin tries to clear but Nieves holds it in along the boards. He moves the puck back to Motte in the corner, but the puck is picked off by a Wisconsin player. He passes into the faceoff circle, where another Badger gains control and flips a backhanded pass...directly to Nieves, who is still along the boards.
Nieves carries in and the goaltender thinks he’s going to shoot. He gets low in his crouch and is about to butterfly, which he does as soon as Nieves passes to Motte.
Motte gathers the puck and backhands a shot into the wide open net. Wisconsin’s goaltender had no chance at getting back across the crease in time to stop the shot.
UM 2 Wisc 0 14:30 EV
Guptill from Compher
Nagelvoort has to stop a point-blank shot for this scoring chance to be created. There’s a Wisconsin player unchecked in the slot (surprise, surprise!) who shoots one into Nagelvoort’s chest, and the rebound falls in front of the crease. Guptill gathers the puck and takes off.
Guptill sees the defender’s outstretched stick and knows he has to dish to Compher.
Compher carries into the neutral zone, where Guptill swims around his defender and gets inside positioning on him. Compher’s defender stayed in front of him, which leaves him behind Guptill. Since Guptill has his man beat he just has to gather the pass from Compher and he has a breakaway.
Well, whadda ya know? Guptill is out on the breakaway and has extra space thanks to his defender momentarily combusting, falling to the ice, and then continuing to pursue. Guptill uses a toe drag (the good kind, not the scraped-along-the-bottom-of-the-pool kind) to freeze the goaltender and then, like, scores.
UM 3 Wisc 0 12:05 EV
Hyman from Bennett & Moffatt
Wisconsin has the puck deep in their defensive zone and tries to clear up the boards. Motte does a nice job of hitting the player the pass is headed for, which frees up the puck. Bennett retrieves it and starts to move laterally.
Bennett shoots the puck from near the middle of the blue line into a screened goaltender. The shot is stopped, but there’s a rebound in front. Hyman is able to score because Rumpel crumples himself up on the initial shot, and it’s all he can do to get a leg pad stuck out on Hyman’s shot.
UM 3 Wisc 1 13:16 EV
Soleway from LaBate & Simonelli
Michigan has one forechecker putting pressure on the D (circled) and two other skaters in the neutral zone. Wisconsin is able to unload a long stretch pass that goes through the neutral zone to the far side boards.
Wisconsin has a 2-on-1 entering the offensive zone. If Downing is farther over he might be able to dissuade LaBate from passing to the slot, but he isn’t and as it stands Clare is the only D who can possibly prevent a pass.
The pass gets through to Soleway in the slot, who one-time backhands it past Nagelvoort. Downing is turned and wouldn’t be able to do much besides either attempt a poke check or put a stick in Soleway’s stomach if he had held on to the puck any longer. The play was quickly developing and did feature a 2-on-1, but I’ve seen Nagelvoort make way more difficult stops than this one.
Saturday, February 1st, 2014
UM 0 Wisc 1 01:02 EV
Mersch from Faust & Navin
Wisconsin wins a battle along the board and Faust passes down low to Mersch.
Mersch then takes the puck and backhands it…
To himself. Yes, himself. I don’t even know, man. You can see from where Nagelvoort’s hand is that he was thinking about going for a poke check here. I get the sentiment but it doesn’t work in this instance.
UM 1 Wisc 1 10:10 EV
Motte from Downing & Hyman
Michigan wins the faceoff and the puck goes directly back to Downing. He puts a slapshot on net that looks like it might hit something in front, but it’s initially saved nevertheless.
I drew an arrow pointing to the rebound. Motte has great position in front of the net and, despite being tangled up by a defender, is able to backhand the puck over Rumpel.
The guy with the dress shirt under his hockey jersey likes it.
UM 1 Wisc 2 16:14 Penalty Shot
Zengerle takes a wide angle and skate it in. Nagelvoort is playing at the top of his crease, appropriately aggressive.
Zengerle puck handles and then shoots over Nagelvoort’s glove for a goal.
I don’t…like, why do you think they’re going to cheer for you?
UM 2 Wisc 2 07:02 EV
Moffatt from Hyman
Moffatt has his shot blocked, and the puck goes to the corner. Moffatt wins the race for it and regains possession.
Moffatt drags the puck out of the corner and into the slot. It looks like he’s going to put a backhander on net before he puts on the brakes and starts to turn.
He shoots through an incredible screen of players. Rumpel can’t see the puck and gives up the tying goal.
MICH - Alex Guptill - MISSED
UW - Morgan Zulinick - MISSED
MICH - Luke Moffatt - MADE
UW - Michael Mersch - MISSED
MICH - Andrew Copp - MISSED
UW - Mark Zengerle – MISSED
If you want to watch the shootout here’s the link. The shootout portion starts at 1:42
There’s a recurring gag in American Hustle in which Louis C.K.’s Stoddard Thorsen is trying to tell Bradley Cooper’s Richie DiMaso about a time that Thorsen went ice fishing (in Michigan, no less) and something happened to his brother, but DiMaso cuts the story off. DiMaso thinks he has the ending figured out, that there’s no reason for Thorsen to waste time attempting to explain something that’s so painfully obvious. In actuality DiMaso never gets the end of the story right.
This is the way the season has gone for Michigan hockey. Just when we think we might know what this team is or is not they surprise us. Prior to the season there was a great deal of skepticism surrounding everything because last season didn’t exactly inspire confidence in any area. Then Michigan goes on a run, beats a number of legitimately good teams and ends up ranked #3. Fast forward to the end of December and Michigan is losing in the most unenthusiastic fashion imaginable to the same State team they swept aside this weekend.
The truth about this Michigan team is that we don’t know where they will end up when the season’s over. I think they’ll make the NCAA Tournament, but what happens after that is impossible to discern. I could have barked out disparate conclusions after games in October and December and either of them could still come true. Luckily for us the “good” Michigan, the team that I actually believe could make a run in the Tournament, showed up this weekend.
Michigan State vs. #14 Michigan
Thursday, January 23, 2014
UM 1 MSU 0 11:36 EV
Compher from DeBlois & Guptill
Guptill has the puck behind the net and initially loses it, but he checks hard and twice keeps a State player from clearing the puck out of the zone. On one of the clearing attempts it hits him and stays stationary before being picked up by DeBlois.
DeBlois passes to Compher, who’s open at the side of the net. State’s lone defenseman is watching the play unfold up the boards and doesn’t even think about moving towards Compher until he already has the puck.
Compher sees that Hildebrand has one pad on the ice and is sealing the post well, so he tries to pass across the crease. The puck goes off of the State defenseman’s stick blade and ends up back with Compher.
Hildebrand has moved off the post and tries to shift back across the crease but can’t do so before Compher’s put the puck in the net.
UM 1 MSU 1 6:04 EV
Ferrantino from Cox & Holland
Michigan State wins the faceoff and gets the puck to the point. Holland shoots immediately and Nagelvoort makes the save but gives up a rebound.
Downing sees the rebound and tries to clear it put can’t do so before Cox stabs at the puck.
Ferrantino has good body position on the defender, and the puck is tipped past Nagelvoort off of his stick. Ferrantino is behind Compher the whole (admittedly very short) play, and this leads to a goal against.
UM 2 MSU 1 17:42 EV
Di Giuseppe from Copp & De Jong
This goal doesn’t happen without Andrew Copp. State has a chance to clear picked off their stick when Copp comes in from behind and steals the puck away, passing it to De Jong at the point. De Jong shoots and Hildebrand stops the shot but gives up a rebound.
Copp is in behind his defender and gets a shot on net that Hildebrand once again stops. Another rebound ends up in front of the net that PDG backhands into the half open net, up and over the sprawled Hildebrand
#14 Michigan at Michigan State
Friday, January 24, 2014
MSU 1 UM 0 17:29 PPG
Sorenson from Walsh & Ferranti
Staee (that's not a typo) works the puck up the boards and moves it laterally across the blue line. Michigan’s penalty kill is in a box formation, and at this point I’m thinking that they’re collapsing on net purposefully. This is almost a carbon copy of a goal they gave up against Wisconsin. D-to-D passes are going to be completed without disruption when your strategy is to collapse.
This puck finds the only low part of the net that would allow it to go in. It worked so, uh, good job Staee, I guess?
MSU 1 UM 1 19:54 EV
Compher from Nieves & DeBlois
The Michigan State defenseman circled is late jumping back in to the play, which is why State’s other defender is in the middle of the ice. This leaves room for Compher to carry the puck in down the wing with speed.
Compher switches to the backhand and sees that the defenseman has decided to take away the pass. He has an opportunity to shoot and takes it, beating Hildebrand under his blocker.
MSU 1 UM 2 5:09 EV
DeBlois from Compher
Michigan dumps the puck in and DeBlois chases it down along the boards. You’ve heard of puck luck? Let’s watch it in stills.
The puck flutters, seems to hit the ice, and takes a jump.
Like a Miguel Cabrera shot to left, it just keeps rising and rising. Sorry, I was following along with Tigerfest on Twitter this weekend.
MSU 2 UM 2 7:19 PPG
Ferrantino from Haag & Sorenson
Michigan is once again set up in a box on the penalty kill. State moves the puck from the blue line down the boards. Michigan’s two netfront defenders take note and see that the skater is going to take the puck to the net.
Nagelvoort stops the shot but gives up a rebound in the slot. Serville picks up Ferrantino after he’s already charged the net, putting his stick in Ferrantino’s midsection. Ferrantino doesn’t hesitate to hack at the puck until it crosses the line.
Here’s the reverse angle.
MSU 2 UM 3 5:23 EV
DeBlois from Serville & Compher
This goal is a result of DeBlois being in exactly the right place at the right time. Michigan enters the zone and moves the puck back to Serville at the blue line. He snaps a shot on net, and it happens to deflect off of DeBlois’ stick and into the net.
“DID YOU GUYS SEE WHAT I-“
MSU 2 UM 4 6:14 EV
Bennett from Selman & Clare
Michigan wins a battle along the boards and chips the puck to the blue line. Bennett and Selman take off, and Bennett works a give-and-go. After passing back to Selman he skates past his defender, bumping him in the process. The defender falls down and ties up another MSU player in the process.
Selman passes under an outstretched stick to Bennett, who is now freed up alone in the slot.
Bennett shows some stickhandling skill here, going forehand-backhand-forehand to beat Hildebrand. I liken this goal to being the shy kid in discussion section who knows they can contribute but is waiting for precisely the right time to do so. One day the GSI throws out a question that you immediately know the answer to, but no one’s answering. Is this it? Seconds pass, no one answers, and this becomes the moment that you seize the opportunity and run with it.
MSU 2 UM 5 13:54 SHG
Compher from Copp & Bennett
Michigan wins another battle behind the net, moves the puck up the middle of the defensive zone, and passes to Copp along the wing. He carries it into the neutral zone and has Compher in the middle of the ice with only one defenseman back to cover.
This is a Mickey Redmond bingo-bango special.
photo via lostlettermen.com
Also: sorry, but this Nuss-at-Washington post is going to have to be delayed since the video conversion failed the first time I tried it.]
If you’re a frequent visitor of this site then you’re familiar with the 2014 meme. Unfortunately it seems that the gilded griffin who’s been sprinkling magic dust on all of the arenas and administrative buildings across the athletic campus couldn’t make the road trip to Wisconsin. I heard it was icy, maybe that was an issue for the griffin. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is how frustrating this weekend was to watch. Even Michigan’s human embodiment of the 2014 meme, Andrew Copp, couldn’t turn this series around.
#8 Michigan v. #14 Wisconsin
Friday, January 10, 2014
Wisconsin 1 UM 0 4:16 EV
Mersch from Schulze & Dahl
Wisconsin dances around Michigan in the neutral zone to gain the offensive zone with little pushback from the Wolverines. Instead of driving the net Schulze leaves a drop pass for Mersch, who has no one defending him. You’ve heard of gap control? Here’s an example of what not to do.
Mersch takes what appears to be a harmless shot. Nagelvoort has a good read on the puck and isn’t screened, but the puck hits the outside of his glove and deflects in. Nagelvoort was phenomenal most of the night, and this is just a tough break for the freshman netminder.
YOU MAY REMEMBER ME FROM SUCH FILMS AS:
Wisconsin 2 UM 0 11:47 EV
Besse from Schulze & LaBate
Wisconsin shoots the puck from near the blueline into a crowd, where it hits someone and deflects to the side of the net. There just so happens to be a Wisconsin player in the vicinity, who grabs the puck and heads behind the net.
Besse skates out from behind the net and centers the puck to the slot. It hits the back of De Jong’s skate (who actually has his man well defended in front of the net) and deflects in between Nagelvoort’s legs. Two flukes, two times the puck finds the back of the net for Wisconsin. At this point it appears that Michigan’s just not going to have fortune smile upon them. Rarely does one bizarre goal happen in a game, but to have two happen in the same period puts a team so far behind the eight ball that they aren’t even playing pool anymore.
Wisconsin 3 UM 0 11:47 EV
Dahl from Mersch & McCabe
How does a shot get through from the blueline to the front of the net? One way is for there to be a big defensive miscue, such as sticking with the wrong man when the other team is moving laterally. That’s exactly what happens here. This is especially unfortunate because Motte played an otherwise good game defensively
To his credit, Motte closes the gap fairly well even though the shot gets through. Nagelvoort stops the initial shot but gives up a juicy, grade-A rebound.
Dahl is right in front but can’t get his stick on the puck. The puck actually bounces in off of his skate, going through Nagelvoort’s legs in the process. Credit to Dahl for not kicking the puck.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Michigan's response, and sad happenings the next night.]
In Michigan athletics, it has been a year that volumes could be written about. They have, actually, but most are unfortunately housed in medical records across UMHS. There was missing the tournament in hockey, missing expectations in football, and missing a national title in basketball. There was Kevin Lohan's knee, Devin Gardner's foot, and Mitch McGary's back. There was sadness, frustration, and disappointment.
Then, in a place few expected, there was hope. A strange and slightly uncomfortable hope borne of early season victories over legitimately good teams. Hockey rose to being ranked #3, a ranking that seemed almost too high for a team with a young, turnover-prone defense and offensive weapons yet to break out. Yet the wins kept piling up, and Michigan found themselves having only the Great Lakes Invitational between them and the meat of the all-important B1G season.
The Great Lakes Invitational began with a game against Western Michigan, a familiar opponent from the former CCHA in an unfamiliar environment. Playing outside has a certain novelty to it, but it also exposes one to all of nature's elements. Exposure turned out to be the prevailing theme of the weekend, as all of Michigan's weaknesses were on full display in the Tigers' den.
Michigan vs. Western Michigan December 27, 2013
GLI Game 1
UM 1 WMU 0 6:35 SHG
Compher from Clare
Michigan is on the penalty kill when Clare wins a battle along the board, spots Compher up ice, and chips the puck out of the defensive zone. Compher catches the puck, drops it (look guys, I made it like FoxTrax! /ducks), and has an auto-breakaway in front of him.
Compher goes backhand-forehand-backhand-forehand. By the second time he goes to the backhand the goalie is absolutely frozen and looks like he expects the shot to be in his chest protector. The puck, however, is still on Compher’s stick. Compher tucks it inside the goal post for a shorthanded tally.
Where Michigan would be without Compher.
UM 1 WMU 1 10:11
Berschbach from Oesterle & Pitt
Michigan can’t clear the puck from their defensive zone. Three players get bunched up in the middle of the zone, but no one can get a stick on the puck or chip it out. Western retains possession and moves the puck down the wall. Serville moves to cut off the pass to the area behind the net.
The problem here is that de Jong leaves the front of the net to cover the man behind the net, but no one is checking the guy who’s open in the slot. By Serville cutting off the pass behind the net and de Jong floating back to cover the player behind the net Michigan has double covered one guy and left the front of the net wide open.
Nagelvoort butterflys immediately to stop a quick backhand, but this leaves him vulnerable when Berschbach switches to the forehand. Nagelvoort can’t move across laterally fast enough to stop the shot.
UM 1 WMU 2 15:48
Kessel from Killip
Centerice wrote on his blog about how much trouble Michigan’s defensemen were having with beating a heavy forecheck, and this is a good example of exactly that. Bennett doesn’t move the puck to his partner and instead gets tangled with Western’s one forechecker against the wall. This allows Western time and in turn allows additional Broncos to get into the Michigan zone.
Bennett has a second chance at the puck but can’t get it back from Kessel, who has just entered the zone. Kessel’s toe drag freezes Nagelvoort long enough for the shot to squeeze past him. It wasn’t the most difficult shot to stop (there was no one screening in front, Nagelvoort had a clear view of the shooter), but the offensive chance should never have developed for Western in the first place.
UM 2 WMU 2 5:24
WMU passes and passes and passes their way around the neutral zone. Eventually someone loses their edge and falls down, which creates a loose puck with no Western players nearby and Lynch in prime position to pick it up.
Lynch shoots just before two defenders collapse on him. The shot is about as perfect as they come, just under the crossbar and over the goalie’s blocker. If ever there was a shot that could be dubbed a “laser” this is the one.
UM 2 WMU 3 4:41
Pitt from Oesterle & Hafner
DeBlois tries to bark out assignments, likely telling Serville to take the man along the boards in case the puck carrier passes. In the meantime, DeBlois gets walked around. Still, Michigan has a diamond of coverage and should be able to lock down the wings and at least put one guy on the puckcarrier.
Downing is the last man back, and he goes for the poke check. If you’re wondering how that went please refer to the cartoon above and yes, I’m available for commission work if you’re interested.
Downing then makes things worse by attempting to hit the puck carrier. He’s young and he’s talented and hopefully he learns from this, but what he needs to do is turn and try to send the puckcarrier to the corner instead of attempting to knock him down. There are ways to neutralize guys that don’t involve hitting, and hopefully these subtleties are picked up quickly by Michigan’s young defensemen. Alternative, Downing could go for the hit if he has support behind him but in this case there is none; as I mentioned before, he was the last line of defense in front of Nagelvoort.
Michigan vs. Michigan State December 28, 2013
GLI consolation game
UM 0 MSU 1 1:23
Ebbing from Cox & Draeger
MSU charges Michigan’s zone with a 3-on-2 advantage. It’s pretty textbook, and Michigan has this defended as well as they can.
Ebbing shoots and Racine sort of stabs at the puck with his glove. Stabbing at a puck doesn’t usually turn out well, and whether it’s a mechanical issue or just rust the puck gets behind Racine. I’m guessing it’s rust, though, because after giving up this softie Racine settled in and made some really remarkable saves throughout the rest of the game.
UM 0 MSU 2 7:32 PPG
Berry from Chelios (not that Chelios)
Michigan’s on the penalty kill here, and they’re seven seconds away from killing in the penalty. In what would become the theme of the weekend, it seemed like they’d make it through this trouble spot, things were fine, ok, OH COME ON ARE YOU SERIOUS. Michigan takes away the pass to the MSU player in the slot, but…
…that leaves Berry wide open on the other side of the ice. He shoots it over the glove of Racine and Michigan State’s lead is increased.
Berry then pretends to hit a home run because haha get it they’re playing in a baseball stadium you see and when can this year end seriously.
UM 0 MSU 3 13:52
Darnell from MacEacher & Boyd
No analysis for this one because the people that make the highlight film have a heart and did not want the rest of us to suffer any longer.