landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
[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.
|Michigan Hockey: Michigan State Preview|
|2/10/12 Michigan (17-9-4) at Michigan State (15-11-4) 7:35pm (BTN)|
|2/11/12 Michigan State at Michigan 7:35pm (Fox Sports Detroit)|
The first game will be played at Munn, the second will be played at Joe Louis Arena.
Pretty much the same things can be said about the forwards since the last time we saw them. Looking at the +/- you can tell who is playing with who, outside of Reimer and Wolfe there isn't much defense from this group.
The one major change is the added production from freshman Kevin Walrod and Matt Berry, this gives MSU options behind struggling upperclassmen Dean Chelios and Daultan Leville that they did not have before. The key matchup will be how Red uses the forecheck, with some younger guys on the ice and some less talented players on the lower lines it could make for a long game for the Spartans.
Unlike the forwards, nothing has changed here. The top line of Krug and Shelgren reigns supreme and everyone else just tries not to blow it until they can get back out.
The cupboard Comley left them could not have been emptier. Chelios is listed at both forward and defense, Crandell can score but his defense is awful, Grassi and Sturges and reserves and Buttery is completely useless.
Key matchup will be our 2nd and 3rd lines against the Spartans lower pairs. The bottom line is this group is not very good, so it's going to take many Wolverine mistakes to be shut down by the Spartans. I expect a good game from Phil Di Giuseppe and I think tonight is the night Lindsay Sparks breaks his almost 3 month scoring drought.
The one area MSU has significantly improved in. Coming into the last series I thought Yanakeff would start to push for the starting spot, and with Palmisano struggling he has done just that.
The key matchup here is very similar to what we usually say, just put it on net. With a terrible defense in front of him we just need to get it to the goal, the opportunities will be there we just need to take advantage of it.
|Phil Di Giuseppe||8-9-17||76||+11||12||17|
While the scoring has always been there for us this season something is different here, the swag is back. It made a few appearances this year and last year, but for the most part it was make 4 passes and turn it over, or try to pull the string on three guys in a row and lose the puck. The Wolverine finesse has made it's return.
*Suspended for unlicensed castration of Will Weber.
I wish I had the time to pull stats from every game this season because I would love to see how much of a difference has actually been made. This is the same group who spent the first half of the year getting owned by teams like Northeastern and Alaska, but what changed? The easy answer is Jon Merrill but that's not all of it, to be honest I have no idea what happened. The teams on ice awareness was non-existent the first half, adding Jon Merrill didn't make Greg Pateryn realize someone was skating in behind him.
The one thing I don't like is the annual “will he go pro or not” period. I think we are getting to the point where Lee Moffie is going to take a hard look at joining the San Jose sharks because his game is getting to that point.
I can't talk enough about how great Hunwick has been for us, but everyone else can because the media is pouring out Hunwick articles. His numbers are ridiculous and he should be receiving a national award at seasons end, and hopefully an NHL team will take a chance on him in the late rounds.
The loss of Brown hurts but Michigan is still a much better team then state. The variable that I expect to decide the game is who keeps their heads on straighter, the Spartans are young and they're going to be pumped up for this game. The second game is almost a home game for us, so I don't see any issues there. I haven't missed one since the GLI so I am confident that we can sweep them.
Story featured on the ESPN College Basketball front page about Austin Hatch.