[Ed-S: Bumped on a light day]
For a few different reasons I decided not to use a grade scale because each player is given different responsibilities by line. Brian Lebler deserved an A because he exceeded expectations, but how do you differentiate his A and Carl Hagelin's? It also helps avoid any kind of backlash I might receive from a player who decides to take a look at what I wrote.
Pre-Season Expectations: Moderate/Low
Coming into the year Guptill was one of six freshman, his role was supposed to be checking for the next four years and here he is as your teams leading scorer.
Big Gup really came up big for the Wolverines as the season went along, becoming a balanced scorer and a huge presence in front of the net. He did not fall into the freshman slump like the others mostly because opponents refused to acknowledge that he was standing in front of the goal by himself, he was given as much space as he needed to tip and redirect pucks all season long.
Coming in labeled as a big man, Guptill showed that he also had college level stick skills from the start. A big man who can lead the rush is more than valuable to a team who loves to run the transition game.
Best Moment: The overtime goal that snapped a 7 game winless streak for Michigan against Alaska, the team would finish the season on a 12-3-3 run.
Pre-Season Expectations: High
The first diary I wrote about hockey was a pre-season preview, I thought that the hardest thing to replace from last years class was going to be the leadership of Matt Rust. We lost a gritty, hard working, team player but Chris Brown has stepped in and done a great job to fill the void.
Brownie provided the best defensive option of our forwards and was a well balanced player. He has great offensive skills, defensive ability, checking and leadership. He provided the anchor for a line that carried the Wolverines through the second half of the season and into the NCAA tournament.
Best Moment: Brown pulling the string on Miami defensemen Will Weber.
Pre-Season Expectations: Moderate
Looking deeper into the stats Wohlberg had a pretty good season statistically, he cut down penalty minutes drastically, improved his +/- by double digits and needs three points to match his career high. Posted a 194-192 record in the faceoff dot (.503%).
The contributions David brings to the team are invaluable, but they get a little overlooked being behind Brown and Guptill. His passing definitely was a major asset for the top line, as his 16 assists tied for team lead among forwards.
Best Moment: Named to the All-GLI team for his tourney preformance.
Pre-Season Expectations: High
It was an interesting season for Treais, who ended the season red hot but spent the first half shying away from the plays and not making much of an impact.
The Daily did a great article on A.J. and he talked about how much being over his playing weight effected his game. When he got himself back into shape he became a completely different player and the talk started to flow in about Treais finally becoming what Red always thought he could be.
After shifting the lines for the first half of the season, Treais fell into place with Di Giuseppe and Glendening to provide a reliable scoring option. He has passed his previous career highs in goals with 15 and points with 26, also improved his +/- by +15.
Best Moment: One timer snipe in overtime to send the Seniors out with a victory.
[After jump: The rest of the team]
|#20 Northern Michigan (14-10-6) at #5 Michigan (18-10-4)|
|2-17-12 7:35pm Big Ten Network|
|2-18-12 5:05pm Fox Sports Detroit|
The last time we faced off against the Wildcats we got a pretty big wake up call. Coming into the series we were ranked #1 and they really used that emotion of playing the top ranked team against us. Add that to the chemistry issues facing the team after losing Kevin Lynch, Hunwick getting ejected and it was a long weekend.
This time it's a little different, NMU is coming into this series with terrible offense. The honest truth is that with decent defense and outstanding goalie numbers, if the offense wasn't so anemic they could be ten spots higher in the AP Poll.
The top line of Gron, Thurber, and Seckel can cause major damage. They score most of the points and play the best defense, after them the Wildcats have almost nothing. Justin Florek is NMU's Lindsay Sparks, he is an offensive nightmare but can't play a lick of defense.
The other issue for the Wildcats is the penalty minutes, towards the end of the roster NMU has a few 8 point scorers who are around the 50 PIMS mark. Althought the PK has been good (7th) they still have to kill more than most of the country (142).
Key Matchup is their top line vs our top pair. Without the depth NMU is going to need the top line to produce, look for Merrill to have a bounce back series after last weekends disaster.
Just like Michigan State, Northern comes into the season with major depth issues on the blueline. Kyle Follmer puts up great offensive numbers but the -1 is awful, that means he has been on the ice for 23 goals this year. They also have a problem staying out of the box, Michigan has one blueliner over 25 PIMS and NMU has none under 25.
The key matchup here is getting started early. Although this unit has been bad at times, they have shown that they can ride a hot goalie for the win. Coreau has the numbers to carry them so they need to get on him fast.
The perfect example of how great numbers don't always translate into wins, Coreau is near the top of the league and his SV% is outstanding. Still he's 10-5-2 because he isnt getting the support in front of him. The matchup is the same as for the defense, we have to get on him before he can get confident.
Stats are not current, MGOBLUE has not updated statistics from the MSU series.
|Phil Di Giuseppe||8-9-17||76||+11||12||17|
I really liked how they played against MSU, the big question was how would the team adjust to the line shuffling without Brown. They had a pretty good series getting 5 goals in the two games. I have given up the Sparks watch, I think it's safe to say he won't score for the rest of the regular season.
Despite the way the series looked our defense played outstanding against Michigan state. The loss doesn't fall on the defense, but on the PK. The first game I was disappointed with how Merrill played and it might have been the worst game of his career. Maybe we are just spoiled to be getting such great proformances game in and game out, but I expect a bounce back tonight.
Taking a look at the PK:
I love what MSU does on this PP, it is designed to attack our 1-2-1 diamond and they execute perfectly. They have the center occupying a penalty killer leaving the wings free, when the puck is cycled down to the corner the left wing crashes.
At this point they have a variety of options, the center is not one of them. They can try back door, the pinching defensemen or get risky and go for the other blueliner who isnt pictured. Our penalty killers have to haul back to the net, but they can't get back in time so he takes it himself.
Hunwick is playing the deflection, expecting a pass through the middle or the back door. Right over his head
Still playing at a high level, nothing he could really do about the PP goals last weekend.
I underestimated NMU the last time we played them, I thought we would roll over them pretty easy. I still think we will this weekend, mostly because NMU is really bad on the road. Also we need these points, we need to finish the season strong for the tourney.
This week we look at the scoring from our weekend series verses MSU. This will look a little different because none of our goals came on a powerplay and we really had nothing from a set offense. This is also going to be much longer than the previous breakdowns.
We start out with Di Giuseppe on the right boards and Treais coming over the blueline on a transition opportunity.
PDG and Treais fan out keeping the trailer out of the play.
Because Di Giuseppe is left handed the Spartans have to respect his shot. The defensemen has his stick in his left hand to block the shooting lane, but not the passing lane. Yanakeff is so far over that any kind of one timer is going in.
Deblois goes down fighting for a puck near the corner boards, it's collected by the blueliner and sent back down.
Kevin Lynch gathers in the corner and sends a pass towards a pinching Lee Moffie
Although the pass is broken up Travis Lynch fights through three Spartans and gets to the net.
Yanakeff is in position to make a save but Lynch gives the extra handle and makes him stand up.
Here we have Crandle fighting with Glendening in the corner, Buttery is coming across the crease and Berry is pinching down.
With all three defenders near the corner the cutting lane is perfect for Treais, Berry is too close to the puck and Reimer is too far away.
It's a nice shot but Yanakeff makes a great save, because the Spartans are falling over trying to catch A.J. n oone is there for rebound control.
Here is where we use our wise oldtimer hockey player phrases. This is for all you young hockey players out there who are watching. Good things happen when you go to the net. Deblois sends it in from the side boards and takes a check from Chelios.
Kevin Lynch is still skating into Spartan ice, while Chelios and the other Spartan have stopped.
Crandle tries to block the puck with his body but he takes a bad angle on the puck and it goes right between his legs. Kevin Lynch, who had not given up on the play gets an early Christmas present.