so much for that
It's amazing how easily we take things for granted. We become acclimated and everything turns into background noise, only to gain our attention when things shift unexpectedly. It's how I felt when I graduated and moved out of Ann Arbor, and it's how I've felt about this year's hockey team.
I was introduced to Michigan hockey in 2006. Having grown up in a house with a die-hard Michigan State alum for a mother and a father who cared more about what went on in the philosophy and astronomy world than the sports world I had some catching up to do. I remeber reading the Daily's hockey season preview and thinking that becoming a fan of Michigan hockey was just a natural extention of my love of the Red Wings. I folded up that newspaper insert and stuck it in my backpack so that I could re-read it whenever I wanted. My conversion to a Michigan hockey fan had begun.
I never made it to a game that season. Instead, I had to rely on keeping up with the team through Daily articles and watching the few games that I could find on TV. Jack Johnson became something of a folk hero to me, a player that I still regret not seeing play while he was wearing the winged helmet. I vowed to myself that I would not make the same mistake twice.
Fall 2007 rolls around and mini-season ticket packages go on sale. A few friends, my girlfriend (who's now my wife) and I decide to get a mini season ticket package. I'll never forget going to my first game at Yost. If there's one arena in the world that can't possibly be done justice by TV this is it. I remember walking in through the cramped corridors and past the ornate woodwork. Then you walk into the stands and it's a fluorescent blast of white exacerbated by a sheet of ice. The corridors scream history while the inside of the rink just screams. If Michigan hockey is powered by a fuse box it only has one switch and that switch, which is permanently flipped, has "ON" printed above it on label tape.
I went to a CCHA playoff game that season and was struck by how the regular season atmosphere is essentially the same as the playoff atmosphere. There's no way for it to get louder and rowdier than it already is, especially when you're in the student section. At the time that seemed hard to believe. Again, I wasn't used to Michigan hockey just yet. Having been a Red Wings fan for so long you get acclimated to regular season games with half empty lower bowls that switch to rabid sell outs when the second or third round of the playoffs roll around.
The energy of Yost spoiled me, and I didn't realize that until this season. When things are about to be taken away from you, that's when you realize just how good you had it. I didn't think there would be a CCHA playoff game at Yost this year. Not after watching a team that had block M's on the front of their jersey but looked oh so unfamiliar otherwise. Now I realize just how amazing the atmosphere at Yost is. Now I realize just how important the CCHA playoffs are. These aren't throwaway games anymore, this is our ticket to the tournament. And, finally, I'm watching a Michigan team that I recognize. This is a team that somehow, someway dug deep and emerged from the shell of...well, whatever that was that took the ice from October through February. Maybe they realized what I realized; it's easy to take things for granted until you're about to lose them.
There aren't many goals to breakdown here, but that's a good thing. A team that was allowing almost four goals per game gave up two this weekend. Two! And I can't even make a joke about only giving up two and it not even being non-exhibition play because they gave up more than that to like Windsor, man. Let's analyze:
Goal by goal analysis (GBGA) is something I've been doing on my Red Wings blog for a little over a year. The lockout seems like the perfect opportunity to transition to writing about UM, and the series against Notre Dame sounded like a good place to start.
A couple of notes about the images below:
- Dashed lines indicate something that did not happen but could have. The first screencap from the first goal is a good example of this with a pass that could have been made but wasn't.
- Solid lines indicate the action of the play. Shots, passes, or a player's movement can all be indicated with solid arrows.
- Circles indicate a player integral to the developing play. Also, circles are awesome and fun to use because I don't have to hand draw them.
Notre Dame 0 Michigan 1; 04:38- Selman unassisted
Notre Dame controls the puck in their own zone. Michigan has an aggressive forecheck on with two forwards in the defensive zone. Despite the pressure, there is an easy D-to-D pass that the defenseman could make.
He instead chooses to try and thread the puck through the high slot through the two converging Michigan forecheckers. This doesn’t work because duh, and Selman picks off the pass.
Selman is in all alone in the left faceoff circle. He doesn’t deke at all, just carries the puck forward for a second before snapping a shot that beats the ND goaltender over the shoulder blocker side. No dangle-dangling, just a great shot that beats the goaltender cleanly.
Notre Dame 1 Michigan 1; 04:04- SH Voran from Tynan & Taker
ND chips the puck out of the Michigan zone, which allows Michigan’s forwards to go off for a line change. ND has a man high, and the chip pass finds him at the blue line.
The ND forward (Tynan) carries the puck in and has a man trailing (circled in green). Bennett is Michigan’s lone defenseman back, and he starts to position himself in the middle of the slot for the situation that’s unfolding; the goaltender will take the shooter and the defenseman will take away the pass to the trailer.
Patience pays off for the Golden Jofas, as Tynan waits until he sees a gap under Bennett’s stick and passes through it to the right faceoff circle. Voran is ready for the pass and one times a shot past Racine, who was able to push across the crease but had already hit the ice and left the top part of the net exposed. Racine isn’t to blame here, however, as the pass never should have gotten through the crease in the first place.
Notre Dame 2 Michigan 1; 14:22- Rust from Russo
The ND defenseman is trying to get the puck in deep. He takes a slapshot that hits the boards behind the net.
Racine thinks about playing the puck for a split second before he realizes that Rust is going to beat him to the puck. He pulls back but is in poor position to go cross-crease because he turns to look at Rust picking up the puck instead of sliding across and locking down the post.
Rust scores on an easy wrap around. Moffie drops to a knee like he’s going to take away a pass but there is no pass here; he needs to pull his stick around to the other side to try and interrupt Rust’s shot.
Notre Dame 3 Michigan 1; 18:28- Schneider from Johns & DiPauli
Four minutes later, Michigan gets victimized again by a Notre Dame defenseman getting the puck deep (and, in this case, on net).
Racine stops the shot, but he lets a juicy rebound go right to…Mike Chiasson? The puck hits his skate and is redirected into the net. SKATE DERP.