Lets hope the Terrier Curse is in full effect.
A Massive Overreaction, Unless It's Not
2/4/2011 – Michigan 2, Miami 4 – 17-8-4, 14-6-1 CCHA
2/5/2011 – Michigan 0, Miami 3 – 17-9-4, 14-7-1 CCHA
Over the weekend Miami paid tribute to tragically deceased team manager Brendan Burke by kicking Michigan's ass; Michigan paid tribute to not-very-tragically departed Tristin Llewellyn by having a team-wide contest to see who could take the stupidest penalty. Your winner was David Wohlberg, who slammed a Miami player into the boards on an icing call. Michigan had just blown a one goal lead and trailed by one with three minutes left, and I wasn't even surprised. The next night Michigan managed maybe three scoring chances in a 3-0 loss that tempted me to use the word "pathetic" despite its association with internet troglodytes.
So this is definitely an overreaction: that kind of felt like the beginning of the end of the Red Berenson era. I know what the instant reaction to that thought is because I had it too, but after I recoiled at the thing it sat there leering and never scoring any goals it appeared to mean. It's still there. It's horned and pitchforked. It's eating all my cheese dip. I hate it. It knows this, does not care, and refuses to leave.
Let's review the facts:
- In the last billion games Michigan has scored four goals, all of which were shots from defensemen that pinballed around the offensive zone like they were in that famous HORSE game between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Each struck at least three goats before entering the net.
- The best player on the team is the four-foot walk-on goalie who's gone from a terrifying liability to the reason Michigan hasn't lost all of the last billion games in which they scored four goals.
- Despite being coached by another four-foot tall person, this one so goofily hairy that he has to shave every six hours lest he drown in his own beard, Miami has the top two scorers in the country and is 10-6-1 against Michigan in the past X years. Michigan has been swept in Oxford the last three times they've visited.
- The four goals scored have mostly zinged past seniors, and while all of them not named Scooter or Carl have been disappointing the incoming recruiting class consists of a hyped goalie and then guys who are mostly last-minute additions. They seem likely to keep Michigan above the epic .500 fray in the CCHA but not keep pace with Miami and Notre Dame.
As I was trying to figure out the "subtler qualities" this Michigan hockey team had in the midst of their streak of nine wins in ten games, Red Berenson was telling anyone who would listen this team kinda sucked and was enjoying a fluky magic carpet ride. Red Berenson may not be have Carter Camper or Andy Miele these days but he can still identify problems better than I can. Three games later Michigan's finished going 2-2 against the 10th place team in the league and was swept out of the building by the Redhawks. They're now third in the CCHA and while they've got a couple of games in hand on Miami they're two back of Notre Dame and fading fast.
Meanwhile, I've been bracing for next year as a possible end to the tourney streak ever since Lucas Lessio decided to take his talents to the OHL. Michigan loses Rust, Hagelin, Caporusso, Vaughn, Langlais, Hogan, and Winnett, and while those guys have been immensely disappointing on the whole that list has Michigan's three top scorers. Two or three defensemen are flight risks and Michigan always seems to lose one guy inexplicably. Right now next year's top line look like it could be Wohlberg-Brown-Glendening, which… man. Either Moffatt blows up or that kid too young for the NHL draft (Di Guiseppe) massively exceeds expectations or we're going to be Alaska-Fairbanks++ next year.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm guessing anyone who's watched this team closely was worried even when its winning, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It has gone thud. Now we're looking back across the last few years, seeing a narrative of erratic but generally declining play coupled with declining recruiting and a general sense of malaise as other teams in the league pass Michigan.
I'm in no way advocating a change. Red's earned the right to coach Michigan until the sun expands and engulfs the earth. I'm almost definitely freaking out because fans are always like "this thing that just happened is never going to stop happening," and unless Jim Tressel is involved that's not usually true. But it does feel right now that we're in the long decay phase every icon from Woody to Bo [era in general] to JoePa to Bowden to Mason [era in general] endures in the long slide from might to age. This Miami series was the equivalent of Football Armageddon: the moment the bad thing you hope isn't true becomes undeniable.
That doesn't mean we can't be good here and there. Since college hockey's system is weighted plinko, we could even win a national title. It won't be as a one-seed, and the days when Michigan getting swept by someone was a nuclear event are over. The near future for Michigan hockey feels like those years when they wandered into a WCHA rink against Minnesota or North Dakota in the tournament and you expected they'd lose. That feeling has lost its novelty.
Feeble, Feeble Non-Bullets
Come on, anti-jinx. Let's do this, yo. Genuine feeling about Michigan sports == Michigan sport doing its best to make me look silly. Let's do it.
Pairwise. Another weekend, another alarming slip. Michigan now hovers at 12th. Eyeballing it, they'll have to go 4-2 down the stretch and make the Joe to feel secure for an at-large. Going .500 would give them the same RPI as Western has right now. Western is 16th and the PWR is an RPI correction scheme, so that would be a coin flip. Going 4-2 would keep their RPI where it is right now and probably keep them along the 3/4 borderline.
The schedule is relatively friendly: home series against OSU and Western followed by a trip to Northern. OSU and NMU are both 9-11-2 in the league, but OSU's performed much better OOC and Northern's lucky they haven't sunk well down the league standings with their –24(!) goal differential. Western is 9-5-8 and has +11 league goal differential, which is good but not in the class of Miami. If they can't go 4-2 in those six games and then beat a team like OSU or Northern at Yost in the second round of the playoffs they won't deserve to be in the tourney anyway.
Yes, pretty much. Daily's Florek with two haunting questions:
If it’s late in the game and the Wolverines are down and call a timeout to draw up a faceoff play, whose stick does the puck end up on? And who takes a penalty shot if Michigan coach Red Berenson could choose anyone on the team?
Florek says you thought about that for too long and settled on Hagelin, which is true, and not good, and it's sad that's not good because Carl Hagelin is awesome but he needs an evil goal scoring gremlin somewhere on his team. It really burns when Michigan is consistently going up against Miami's magic midgets. Those tiny magnificent bastards used to be ours.
OH GOD FLOREK STOP ASKING QUES—
When’s the last time, somebody, literally anybody, on the Michigan team scored on a breakaway?
Dude, I can top that with "what about a cross-ice pass?" If you don't count the first Treais goal from Friday, which had already been deflected into the net by a defenseman's skate before Treais yo-ho-hoed it, it's… um?
When Red finally disintegrates, would you want Blasi? Would he come?
No and no.
dat's what I figured
Love the userpic
If it makes you feel any better, I'm about ready to ride Don Lucia out of town on a rail, and his championship-level success is rather more recent than Berenson's.
Is Mel Pearson still Red's Jimbo Fisher? He's not exactly young
Unless, of course, Brandon finds some other Jack Adams winning coach that wants to come to Michigan (I'm looking at you, Babs!), I think you have to assume it's Mel's job to lose. I believe he was offered the head job by both Michigan Tech and Miami and turned down both of them, he's been here for all of Red's successful years and has certainly earned the right to be Michigan's next coach if he wants to be and him still being here suggests he wants to be. He graduated college in 1981, which puts him in his early fifties, which isn't young, but isn't all that old, he'd have a good 10-15 years before age would make him think too much about retirement. Also, unless DB does actually find some NHL coach, or a proven track record college head coach, Mel's probably not only the closest thing to a sure thing we're going to find, but also is already familiar with Michigan and has all his recruiting pipelines.
Looking at college head coaches, the only ones that I think MIGHT come here and would be succesful are Seth Appert (RPI) and Dean Blais (UND/UNO). But Blais is about a decade older than Pearson and as a Minnesota grad, he's probably waiting to see what happens to Lucia and other than that will stay at UNO. Appert's youngish, seems to have somewhat similar philosophies to Red and seems to be recruiting Canada pretty sucessfully, which you'd think he could continue here.
Recruiting wise, it seems like our traditional NTDP and Canada pipelines where we've gotten a lot of our best players from have dried up, from the combination of the WHL and programs like Miami/ND and a few others being a lot more involved in one or both of those areas and the coaches don't really have the connections to the USHL to grab the top talent from there, becasue they've never really had to reach into there. Additionally, a lot of talented Michigan born players now go to the non-NTDP-USHL to play, instead of staying in Michigan and then they don't get recurited by Michigan so much and we're losing some of that talent base as well. Complete speculation on a good bit of that, but if you look at NDs freshman phenoms, they both came from the USHL, and from Miami, Smith, came from Canada (St. Michael's, actually, where we've had a pretty good pipeline from) and Miele and Camper both came from the USHL.
And lastly a question. We all know that Red signed his contract extension for three years, but I doubt that it's that set in stone, any chance that he takes a look back at this year and last at the end of the season and retires now? What if we don't make the tournament, does that help or hurt? Personally, I don't think Red would retire before his contract is up, I think he's still too competitive, but I do think it's within the realm of possibility. I'm also sure he knows the relative weakness of the next recruiting class and maybe looks forward to trying to coach them up for a few years. I know that there probably isn't another coach in the country I'd want at the helm going into next year like it appears we're going into next year.
Personally, I don't think Red would retire before his contract is up
nor do I. certainly not in a scenario where the accelerated retirement is a direct response to poor play on the ice.
is that he always says, when talking about his contract and extensions and all that, that he only wants to be here as long as he doesn't feel like he's hurting the program. If he feels like the poor play on the ice is because he isn't doing a good enough job, I think he would be out of here. Honestly, last year, he seemed out of it a lot of the year, blaming several losses on refs when even I didn't think they were particularly bad, whereas this year, he seems more into things. Even when we were winning he was saying we weren't playing well. I'm not sure whether that's good news, or bad news though. I think we're going to find out a lot this weekend. Michigan's still good enough to sweep OSU relatively easily, especially at home. Maybe the scores won't be lopsided, but the play probably should be. If it looks like we're doing that, the boys learned from last weekend and I would bet that Red feels good about his continued ability to light a fire under them a little bit. If not, it's anybody's guess.
To cheer everybody up, I tried to find a link to Red's time-out against Denver in the 1999 regional, but (surprisingly and) unfortunately there isn't a youtube video of that. Instead, here's MGoBlue's description. Thinking of this always fires me up a bit. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you a legend:
"Adding to the legend of Berenson's tenure with the Michigan program is an incident from the 1999 East Regional in Worcester, Mass. In the first tournament game, U-M trailed the University of Denver 3-0 at the 17:44 mark of the second period. Berenson called a timeout which some say changed that game more than any other timeout they had ever witnessed. When play resumed, Michigan held Denver to a single shot on goal for the remaining 22:16 of the game while scoring five goals to take the win and advance to the second round of the tournament."
That Denver team finished the season 26-13-2 and was surging after winning the WCHA tournament title and on a 9 game win streak.
That's our coach, dammit, and if he doesn't have a little bit of that spark left, then I'm a flying pig. He's still got a NC run in him. Go Blue!
They'd be crazy NOT to at least look at Appert. He spent time in Denver as an assistant, recruiting the USHL kids to the WCHA. He's brought RPI (RPI, man... srsly) to tournament contention and a consistent ranking in the top 20 the last 2-3 years. He's done it by recuriting talented kids from Canada and the USHL, and even the USNDTP. He's young and plays an up tempo style. He has to be on a short list with Mel and lord knows who else.
shows that he's a Ferris State grad (goalie) so he knows the CCHA, too. Graduated in 96, so he's only in his late 30's. He was also at Denver during their super succesful runs in the early 2000's, including both of Gwoz's National Titles. The more I look at him the more I like him. Two things that worry me are that Bob Daniels, who was just starting his head coaching tenure at Ferris when Appert was there (after being the assistant for the 3 years immediately previous), was an MSU grad (and a Miami (OH) grad student), which might possibly influence him against us and that MSU and PSU both have job openings. Nobody on the MSU board has really mentioned Appert for their coaching opening, that I've noticed, but that doesn't mean he isn't being looked at by Hollis. And I don't think anybody knows what PSU is thinking, but he would stay east-ish, which he might like and he would have a ton of resources there. I'm not sure he would leave a successful gig at RPI (which he built up) for at least a slight rebuild job at MSU and I don't think he would leave for a complete building job at PSU, but those are certainly options.
Personally, I think PSU is going to have the most success going after an assistant-type, maybe one of Blais', or Gwoz or Hakstol, that's had a pretty decent run at a pretty significant program and might be willing to leave that for a chance to be a head coach, but MSU could probably snag Appert if they really wanted to. The wildcard being how much he likes being at RPI, where he's likely the BMOC vs. going somewhere else and maybe haing more resources but also having a more divided attention.
If Appert is available when Red retires, he should probably get a look, though it might be difficult to choose him over Mel, especially if Red is strongly backing Mel in his candidacy. But I do think he's likely looking to move up the ranks and I think he'll be successful anywhere.
The other hot head coaching name is Nate Leaman from Union, who graduated college in 1997 but he's been out east his whole career and if I had to guess,I'd say he might be waiting for more of a BU/BC job. Union has also impressed me less than RPI.
Wasn't the game of HORSE between Larry Bird and Michael Jordan?
I have no useful hockey commentary. I can has sad.
Yup. And later in the campaign they wouldn't let Charles Barkley play, with good reason.
Just about every good coach in Division I is at his alma mater. We need to get Jeff Jillson a GA gig post haste
I was expecting a rebuttal to Maize and Brew's piece
As a more casual Michigan Hockey fan, it's even become noticable to me that Michigan is lacking skill players who can deek or sharphoot their way to goals. This is unfortunate.
I could be wrong, I plead ignorance if so.
Michigan is lacking an elite scorer (or 3) and it's really hurting them. Hockey teams need a few things to succeed:
4 good defensemen
A serviceable-to-great goalie
1-3 elite scorers
1-3 elite grinders/enforcers
A great way to look at that list is with the Blackhawks from last year to this year. They've got the D, as serviceable a goalie, the scorers, but their grinders/depth isn't where it was last year, hence they're not as elite as they were last year.
Michigan is lacking the elite scoring, and losing a lot of 1-0,3-2, etc games is the result. Brian's comments re: penalty shots is exactly why we're having issues this year
maybe im misremembering but it seems like the offense immediately dropped off after porter & kolarik left and its been slowly declining further since then
this team reminds me of the...08-09 team? the one that lost to air force 2-0 in the first round. it seems like a generally good, ncaa tourney team that is destined to lose a boring, frustrating game in the first round
i dont like to think about the future but yes it looks like fairbanks+. good goaltending, good defense, 1.9 goals a game
was pretty good... 145 goals compared to 170 the year before, though 2007-2008 they played 2 more games. It was on the lower end of goals scored for a Red-coached team, but they did pretty well. They were a number one seed, as you recall. Beat #1 (for a good chunk of the season) ND in South Bend and got robbed of a win the following night in Yost (the one where Red said enough was enough and bought instand replay for the CCHA). Also remember that for pretty much the whole first half of the season they were without Kampfer, Burlon and Mitera (Mitera for almost the whole season), which probably would have helped the "goals scored" category. And Louie didn't score like at all in the second half, which started hurting us. The offense got pretty stagnant the last several games of the season, but for the most part they were pretty adept and they at least created chances and remember they held WMU without a shot in the first period in the CCHA tournament game at Yost. That year it was a surprise to get shut-out, this year it's almost an expectation. If they didn't get some pretty ridiculous luck in a lot of games this season, based on the opportunities they generated, there probably should have been many more shut-outs. I don't even really want to talk about the Air Force game itself, but remember we at least out shot them (remember when we always out shot our opponents?!) like 42-13, Rust had a shot that, I believe, hit 2 bars and rang out, a couple players got robbed a couple times and while neither goal Hogan allowed was particularly soft, he probably should have had both of them.
Also, that senior class (with the excpetion of Mitera who was out pretty much the whole season) was far less heralded than the one this year, but out-performed this year's class in nearly (if not every) way, especially with on (and probably off, though I have no way to judge) the ice leadership. For the sake/memory of Mitera,Turnbull, Miller, Naurato and Fardig alone, I don't think it's fair to compare the two seasons. That team was far more solid/better than this one.
Though the offense has dropped off since Porter and Kolarik left, yes.
EDITED WITH NEW REAL INFO!! (at bottom)
1. On a (very slightly) positive note, Travis Lynch has 4-4-8 points in his last 5 games, along with a +5 rating. He has 12-9-21 in 38 games on the year. He's now tied for 2nd on the team in goals with (way out in points of the team lead, though only one assist behind) Austin Czarnik (though Czarnik has played 8 less games). Likely the surge is a result of Czarnik being out and T. Lynch has gotten to play on a higher line, but either way, a little more offense from him is encouraging, especially with the black hole we're looking at next year. Obviously a goal every 3rd game isn't exactly blowing it up and it's against weaker competition, but if Brown/Rust/Lynch were scoring on that pace (it would be about 10 goals so far on the season, Louie is just about right on it), we might be having a more upbeat conversation right now...
2. What are the chances of Treais moving up a line? He's been playing really well since at least Christmas, he leads the team with a .182 shot percentage on 44 shots. Rust has the same amount of shots and a .091 shot percentage. Louie has .082% on 98 shots. Also, of regularly playing non-goalies on the team, AJ is tied with Merrill and Moffatt for fewest penalty minutes (4 minors), even with less ice time than Cappy and Rust, that's pretty good. As we've all noticed, Cappy and Rust aren't doing much offensively on the top lines, maybe inserting Treais there would give one of those lines a little more offensive kick and give a kick in the pants to the demoted senior. I know Red's approach towards guys that aren't scoring is normally to give them more chances, rather than less, but I think they've both had just about every chance possible and it can't hurt to try something new and AJ has probably earned the promotion with his play. I'd be fine with swapping out either, but I'm leaning towards Louie.
Matt Rust is still a great defensive forward and his assist totals are fine and the chemistry he has with Carl is too good. They haven't done much recently, but I still feel like they can be more dangerous. Louie is an adequate defender, but so is Treais and not only is he expected to be more of a scorer than Rust, but I feel like if he knew he was going to have fewer opportunities per game, he might do better on them , if that makes sense. He's shooting the puck (unlike Rust) he's just not getting anything through, maybe if he though he wasn't going to get as many chances, he'd maybe get a little more on his shots and if he retained his touch, maybe that would carry over if he was restored to his former line and more opportunities would yield more scoring. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but that's the best I can explain it, his problem seems more mental. Whereas Rust really needs to shoot more and needs the confidence being on a top line should give him more and maybe that would get him going. It's hard to demote either of them because they're both working hard generally, but I don't think it would hurt to give Treais a shot. He's going to have to (probably) be the top center next year anyways, it can't hurt to get his feet wet a litle bit in that role this year. Maybe they've tried it in practice and it failed spectacularly, but I really think that might be a change that might jumpstart the offense a little. It also sends a bit of a message to everybody, sending your star seniors to the third line. Everybody knows Brown/Lynch are going to flip on the other wing of Carl and Rust, but maybe this would be a little more impactful.
In a similar vane, though I'm much less set on this, maybe also/alternatively (most likely alternatively) trade Moffatt for Glendening, though I would do this as a super temporary thing. Obviously Glendening's still working super hard, but maybe not quite as much as last year and sending him down might motivate him just that little bit more. And he's had SO many missed chances recently. Moffatt hasn't showed he's too much more of a finisher, but maybe he could be and he's been flying around well enough on the third line, that I think he could do well enough with Cappy/Wohlberg to warant a chance. Anything that might get things going. Obviously, Red knows what he's doing and he might have tried thse already and they didn't work as well as what he has now, but I think he's gotta shake it up somehow, in light of the last few games.
EDIT: Looks like Red has certainly been thinking shake it up, according to the michiganhockey.net twitter, lines at practice today were:
I'm not sure if Hagelin is actually centering Cappy or if I'm misinterpreting that or if it's a typo, but the other three lines have the center in the middle in the tweet and I remember that earlier, Red tried having Wohlberg center Cappy for a game. That failed, but Carl's probably better suited to playing center than Wohlberg, so maybe this will work better. Red said something about how playing wing should make Louie think a little bit more about a different position and so maybe get him going a little bit, so I guess they're trying that again. I'm sure Red was reading the board when he decided to put together the second line, glad I could possibly help the team :-p He picked the other center, but, you know, Jack Adams is telling me to give him the benefit of the doubt. I like Vaughn up and Lynch down too, Lynch hasn't done anything lately, they've tried him on the first, they've tried him on the third, time for him to worry just about defense and maybe in a week or two they can put him back up and some offense will flow from that. In the meantime, Scooter's been one of (maybe our only non-Hunwick...) most consistent players and certainly should be able to handle being on the third line. Winnett's been his normal average-self and I definitely think DeBlois is our best walk-on 4th line type this year. Sparks has more offensive upside, but Derek's defense is probably better right now. I think maybe the logic of putting Rust on the third line instead of Louie, is that with Glendening and Vaughn, two not-huge-scorers that also don't shoot it a ton, maybe Rust will take more responsibility on himself and get going a little bit.
The other thing is, even if these lines show up similarly in games this weekend, I'm interested in:
a) what might be permanent/long term and what might change, especially depending on whether each line does well or not? Might he, even if some of the lines really click, go back to the Hagelin-Rust-Brown etc. combos, thinking that now that the indiviudals are going, those are the best combinations to utilize their full potential? Or does he play it more safe and keep them all together, if they do well?
b) if none of them really click, does he go back to those old lines or does he try something completely new, again?
EDIT 2: The Yost Post confirms those lines (http://michigan.rivals.com/showmsg.asp?fid=41&mid=142213603&sid=883&tid=...) and Hagelin centering Carl. The one mistake was with the 4th line, Lynch will centering DeBlois and Winnett. I believe Lynch was a center back with the NTDP and before, so he knows the position. I think he played it a couple times for us, but never stuck there. Probably because Rust and Cappy are (normally) so good, they didn't want a guy with his offensive abilities on the 4th line and maybe thought between the two Treais would be better as a center and Lynch as a winger, for any of several reasons. But they did both tear it up as centers in the NTDP, 3rdth and 6th on the team in scoring, AJ in a 3-way tie for 3rd with 49 (best was 56), Lynch with 48 (next best was 40). It's probably a case of Red thinks Lynch needs some time as center, so he'll think more (or less, depending on the player and the position switch Red says both and I never remember who is which...) and thus play better and Winnett as the normally relatively solid senior is being moved over to give Lynch the opportunity. Of course, as with any changes, we'll see if these last through today, much less into the weekend.
Massive overreaction. It's OK Brian, we still love you.
I believe Scooter scored a shorthanded breakaway in the Mercyhurst game. I'm pretty sure it was in the middle of the second and it put us up 4-0, so it was kind of an afterthought at the time, so I don't remember it too clearly. Then we managed to cough up that lead like Arsenal this weekend, and that game is right now like a microcosm for our season: good early results only to be followed by disappointment in the second half. Here's hoping we can recover.