Trouba intimidates even when putting on hats
Full game stories have to wait for football season to end, but a highly timely selection of things on last weekend's games:
Overall, extremely encouraging. Michigan lost Friday thanks to 3 terrible goals and two savable ones given up by a freshman goalie, and don't just take my word for it:
"I'll have to look at them again but they all looked pretty soft to me," Berenson said. "The kid made some good saves too, but it was a tough night to be a goalie in our net, and we have to do be better than that."
Aside from that and some sloppy early-season play from defenders, Michigan was on. They had twelve goals on the weekend, one of them waved off for a high stick that didn't affect the outcome of the play. They bombed RIT, nearly outshooting them 2-1 both nights. RIT is a respectable outfit that was 20-13-6 last year with nonconference wins over Ferris State and Lake State, so to thoroughly outplay them without Jon Merrill is a good sign.
Most importantly, the power play looked like it had some purpose. Michigan converted three of thirteen opportunities and did not spend entire power plays either failing to acquire the zone or shooting it into a defenders' skates from the point. Trouba is a great help there—he's got a laser shot and the ability to pass and stickhandle from the point. Paired with Treais he's a major upgrade on last year's efforts—now Michigan can rotate down either point man and put the opposing box under stress as they try to hand off players between each other without opening up passing lanes.
Point Racine. Obviously. 21 saves each; five goals let in for Rutledge, two for Racine. Racine is a strange goalie who kind of reminds me of a huge Hunwick—he will come way out of his crease in an attempt to aggressively cut down shooting angles. He's far less agile than Hunwick, though, and this will burn him at some point. After the highly scientific sample size of one game each, he seems better right now.
Rutledge didn't just give up a bunch of atrocious goals, he also looked shaky on a bunch of saves and gave up an ugly goal in the exhibition. Hopefully that's just nerves and youth and Blackburn can get him straightened out—Hunwick was night and day from his initial forays onto the ice once Blackburn had him for a significant period of time.
Trouba ridiculous. Wrap-around goal, killing that guy, a series of tape-to-tape breakout passes, excellent PP QB performance… yow. He'll get a little too aggressive at times, but he's a lot like a calmer Jack Johnson. #JMFT.
Some steps forward from the younger D. Serville didn't do anything to make me go "uhhhh noooo" except maybe once or twice, which is progress. Clare seemed to have taken a step forward towards reliable Jay Vancik defensive defenseman before his injury, as well. The other guys seems to be the other guys.
Nieves bouncing around. He started on the fourth line but had worked his way up to Guptill's outfit by the late stages on Thursday and jumped off the fourth line for the entirety of Friday's game. Big guy, can get the edge on defensemen, wish he would try to ride them to the front of the net a lot more often. I get why the scouts kept talking about him as a perimeter player.
Sparks: deployed. Lindsay Sparks was given a large share of power play time and was placed on a second or third line, depending on your POV. Like last year, he's off to a good start with two points on the weekend. Hopefully he can stay out of the doghouse enough to grab one of those top nine slots.
Michigan Hockey Net on the top line:
The chemistry on the first line is undeniable, particularly with A.J. and Di Giuseppe. All night they were a two-tandem terror giving the Tigers fits. A.J. was all over the ice, he was on top of the RIT defense seemingly at will, punishing their backstop with a barrage of pucks. His goal was a thing of beauty: PDG corralled the puck, and found AJ wide-open in the slot, who hammered it home, going down on one knee Brett-Hull style for added effect. PDG’s goal was similar earllier in the game: the Captain found his linemate hovering between the circles, the Maple native zinged a wicked wrister top shelf. Not to be outdone, Moffatt had an assist, and really seemed to be the stabilizing force on that line, letting the other two do their thing. What we’re seeing from Luke are flashes of what he displayed before arriving on campus, and he’s finally adjusted it to the college level: the ability to find his way through traffic and get to the net. He split two defenders in his lone SOG. For the record: AJ finished with 9 SOG, and PDG had 5. I’m salivating over here about what this line can accomplish, but let’s temper expectations–it’s early, and we haven’t hit conference play yet.
Yost Built on Friday:
The Wolverines put 51 shots on net, including 20 in the third period. Every player who dressed recorded at least one shot on goal this weekend. For the series the power play was 3-for-13 (23%) and generated 27 shots on goal (!!!). The PK was 9-for-9 and added a short-handed goal. Good weekend for the special teams.
Yost Section 25 has some pictures and a take as well. Mike Spath says Clare is "most likely" to miss the Bentley game this weekend with his shoulder injury, which will bring Mike Szuma into the lineup. Sounds like Clare's injury isn't too long term—the important games ramp up quickly, with Miami, Northern, State, and ND the next four weekends after Bentley.