"The amount of professionalism that he has ... there's probably not another guy in the country that would have handled it the same way," Durkin said. "He's not only one of the best coaches in the country, he's one of the best people. He absolutely has the respect of everyone -- coaches and players, alike."
"I don’t care if Jim Harbaugh is medically insane (he is), if you run the coach out of town who took your team from absolute embarrassing garbage-pail irrelevance to conference-dominating powerhouse in ZERO YEARS, you are not only stupid, you don’t care about winning."
Hockey doesn't have grand narrative arc of a 12-game football season so usually I'm at a loss when trying to come up with a column-type substance. Instead, this is mostly items.
With about five minutes left in Saturday's third period I was stewing. After two periods of near-total domination interspersed with a terrible turnover from Chad Langlais, a terrible penalty from Tristin Llewellyn, and the goals that resulted from them, Michigan trailed 3-2 but looked like they'd come storming back in the third. Instead, Alaska kept them penned in their own end with help from a series of dumb or questionable penalties. Michigan had one scoring chance.
It was the exact same script they'd followed all year: own territorially, fail to generate goals off that dominance, make enough undisciplined plays to get behind. It was the same script they'd kicked the year off with in a 2-0 loss against the Nanooks in which they outshot the opponent by more than two to one. It threatened to undo the good from the Friday night shellacking. It was very annoying.
Then Langlais dashed into the slot to pick up a loose puck and fired it through the goaltender and outshot Alaska 6-1 in OT—though the Nanooks didn't get credit for a shot that zinged off the inside of the post—and everything seemed okay. Michigan is 3-0-1 after the break and moving towards the NCAA bubble. They're showing some fight, at least, and it seems plausible that they do something this weekend against tourney-bound Ferris.
The shootout doesn't really matter. It matters a little for CCHA standings but in the eyes of the NCAA it's a tie. For the PWR, Michigan picked up a three-point weekend against a pretty good opponent.
As far as the CCHA goes, Michigan is now within striking distance of that fourth place spot that gets the last first-round bye. They're tied for sixth with Notre Dame, four back of fifth place Alaska, and five back of fourth place Lake State, but they've got two games in hand on all those teams. If you believe in goal differential, Michigan should be able to distance themselves from those two teams over the final stretch: Michigan is +11 in conference while Alaska is –4 and Lake State is +1.
Bork! You know a player has developed into a star when your reaction to his line hitting the ice is "oh thank God," and Carl Hagelin has officially reached this level with me. I've been touting him for a while now but never had that visceral relief until this weekend. He's like a version of Jed Ortmeyer with little rockets in his skates.
Depending on what happens the rest of this season and next, he'll challenge Ortmeyer for champion of my personal Michigan hockey Valhalla. I fully approve of some intrepid students deploying a Swedish flag big enough to use on a battleship this weekend:
No, I'm not the guy who looks like Chewbacca in this picture. I'm the guy who looks like Chewbacca who sits in the endzone. Also: Windows Live Writer has Chewbacca in its dictionary.
Speaking of students. Giant Swedish flag plus responsible vuvuzela guys* plus far more newspapers than usual plus general liveliness equals one of—if not the—best student sections I've seen at Yost. They've even added a few things to the rich panoply of things people say at Yost. "Moose, sieve" is a fantastic addition to the selection of "noun, sieve" chants and this is the year the bizarre muppet-esque hooting that goes on when an opponent is trying to break out of its zone on the power play went from fringe weirdness to actual thing. I'm impressed given the crappy year and the crappy football year that preceded it.
HOWEVA, it is extremely bad form to give the opponent a "warm up the bus/sled/sorority" chant on Friday. One, it doesn't make any sense since they're not going anywhere. Two, it is jinxtastic. Also, a request: someone needs to have their cell phone ring be an incredibly loud plain ringtone as if from a, you know, landline, and they need to have their buddies call four or five times a game so the "Hey, [goalie], it's your mom" cheer can continue.
That is all. Carry on with all other things.
*(Another friend suggested everyone get them because they were "awesome" and I was all "with great power to annoy comes great responsibility." The current amount of crazy plastic horn noise is excellent; more would probably be a disaster.)
So to belabor a point. I don't want to be a creepy mean guy about a kid playing hockey but I do think this sequence was sort of amazing: someone with a 4 as the second number on their jersey runs in for a check on an Alaska player and gets an extremely dubious elbowing call. I turn to my friend and say "I give Llewellyn a lot of crap but that was a terrible call," and then it turns out the guy heading to the box is Brian Lebler. Seven seconds—seven seconds!—later, Llewellyn blatantly grabs a guy to prevent him from getting to a Michigan forward attempting to clear the puck and Michigan goes down two guys for almost the full two. Alaska scores twice. Argh.
Elsewhere in guys who I think had bad weekends: Langlais did score the game-tying goal Saturday but before that he was having a really rough weekend. Alaska's first goal on Saturday was the direct result of a Langlais turnover and he made a series of other mistakes, none of which remain so clear in my mind, before the great redemption.
Lebler, meanwhile, had a really weird weekend. On Saturday he scored on two absolute lasers Brett Hull would have been proud of and zinged a potential hat trick off the post. I've never seen Lebler do anything of the sort before. Then on Saturday he picked up four minors, one of them the aforementioned weak elbowing call but the others were dumb stuff that you have to call.
Good things. Lee Moffie has established himself as an up-and-comer. He's not very physical but is steady, doesn't make a lot of mistakes—though he did fall down and create a two-on-one—and has an excellent shot. It's not heavy but it's seriously accurate; when he dove in from the point to pick up a great Hagelin centering pass it went top shelf, no mistake.
Lindsay Sparks, meanwhile, has gone from healthy scratch to third (second?) liner and kept up his hot recent play with a sweet powerplay goal on which he walked out of the corner and slid it five-hole. Sparks is sixth on the team in PPG and has as many points as Kevin Lynch and one more than AJ Treais despite the latter two having played twice as many games.
Michigan is moving on up. The last two weekends have had a huge positive effect on Michigan's numbers. They're currently 19th in RPI. Two weeks ago they were 29th, not even a Team Under Consideration (TUC). Caveat: it's a lot easier to move from mediocre to pretty decent than to move from pretty decent to tourney bubble. When you're 29th in RPI, the teams around you will go about .500. When you're 19th, they'll be doing better than that.
Even so, that's a big leap in just two weekends; if Michigan continues playing well they have time to break into the top 14 in PWR. Right now Michigan is 19th, exactly what their RPI rank is. Despite Michigan's ugly overall record, their peripherals aren't that terrible. They're 6-6-1 against other TUCs, though that's shaky since they've played three of the last six teams in and are 3-1-1 against them.
Root for Alaska and Minnesota the rest of the way out (not that it's a revelation that you'd like Michigan's nonconference opponents to play well). The other team on the TUC bubble is Notre Dame. Michigan split with them earlier in the year and plays them again the final weekend of the regular season; the desirability of the Irish as a TUC is yet to be determined.
Demon bear. Mandatory. We're using this one from now on because the Demon Bear superfluously blows up Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan State before annihilating the planet.
That was a cruise ship? I'd fire my travel agent if I found myself embarking for high seas romance on that thing. I figured it was some kind of icebreaker or cargo ship. But I grew up in a landlocked state so what do I know from watercraft?
Candace: No... That why they make smart word box for tell monkey hard brain-hurty things.
Phineas: Removing prepositions makes it more condescending.
We have 49 GF and 38 GA and are sitting in 6th, while 2nd place FYS has 47 GF and 38 GA. As Brian mentioned, Alaska and Ferris St. have worse goal differentials than us too. Does this mean we have simply been getting unlucky? We have played a somewhat difficult schedule thus far, and 8 of our remaining 12 CCHA games are against teams in the bottom half of the league. Does this leave some room for (cautious) optimism?
A team that generates lots of marginal chances could see that happen - against bad teams with bad goalies (or Alaska on the first day of a home weekend) the result is a massive curbstomping, but against decent teams the result is often a horribly frustrating game in which you outshoot the opponent 3:1 but give the opposing goalie the easiest 50-save shutout in history.
It don't matter, losing 2-0 or 3-2, losing is losing- so who cares about the karma of goal differential.
Good teams create their own luck. You can't lose games you should technically win (BG, OSU, ND) and play less than perfect against teams like Miami, FYS, Ferris and Alaska.
It doesn't matter who the games left are against, although Ferris and MSU are games that will go farther in determining PWR. Don't underestimate the games against BG, Northern, UNO or Notre Dame, either. (FWIW, I think ND is a pretty good team and we may be playing them for that 4th spot at the end of the season, unless LSSU continues to mesmerize everyone.)So far it doesn't seem like our guys have distinguished themselves from those teams and could end up on the road (gasp) for the first or second round of the CCHA playoffs if they don't put together some consistency, quick.
Oh, and this is about the most nondescript effort by a Senior class I have seen in years. Lebler and Lewy have been... underwhelming at best. Makes me wish for Tim Cook some nights.
I am starting to wonder if langlais has some kind of nagging injury b/c i thought he was our best Dman last year by far (well, Mitera was injured since the 1st period of the 1st game). He was especially impressive for a young, undersized Dman @ BG last year. he's smart (knows when to pinch & more importantly when NOT to), is a good passer, never turned the puck over, and never got undressed. also, it seemed like he was on the ice 60% of the available mins last year. and he was on the PP, IIRC(?). so what's going on there?
"Then Langlais dashed into the slot to pick up a loose puck and fired it through the goaltender and outshot Alaska 6-1 in OT—though the Nanooks didn't get credit for a shot that zinged off the inside of the post—and everything seemed okay."
Shots that go off the post do not count as shots on goal, since the puck couldn't physically have gone in the net. The shot must either go in, or hit the goalie and leave the shot total keeper to decide whether or not it was going to go in had the goalie not been there. If it hits the goalie, the shot usually counts unless it clearly wasn't going anywhere near the net.
"Are you coming to bed?"
"Someone is WRONG on the internet."