"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
"There's a certain level of confidence and composure he brings to the court," said sophomore forward Aubrey Dawkins, who played the bulk of his minutes as a freshman while LeVert sat on the end of the bench in a sweat suit. "When you know you have a player like that on your team of that caliber, it's just like, we're in his hands and he can do a lot of things for this team. It's a comfort. It's nice."
"I just really wanted to see him in a game and I loved what I saw," Beilein said. "He was active. He's got a motor. He's got some things he's got to work on. He doesn't have the strength to (play) the way he'd like to in the Big Ten yet, but that's what we're going to work on in-between (games) without inhibiting his ability to play the next game."
Inevitably, Michigan's come down a bit from its dominating post-Merrill streak. After a month of games rarely competitive enough to require the opposition goalie to be pulled, Michigan's won two of the last four in overtime. A third they lost; the fourth was a one-goal game with five minutes to go before a power play goal gave Michigan room to breathe.
While they remain one of the hottest teams in the country—probably still the hottest team—it's just that… man, they are mortal. Very much so. Saturday confirmed that. Watching Mac Bennett cough up an unbelievable turnover gets that point halfway home; cowering after Jon Freakin' Merrill got ostentatiously walked for a goal drives it the rest of the way. And don't get me started on the third pairing.
It is easy to construct ways in which Michigan gets beaten in the tourney. Maybe it's better to know that going in, to not be regarding the NCAA tournament as anything other than sport's most terrifying random number generator, but dammit I've been watching Michigan play hockey for 13 years and every year my soul has ended up sobbing on the floor of a Steak 'n' Shake bathroom. I don't like reminders of the ways in which these things happen.
I'm getting plenty of those of late. Both overtime winners were plinko specials. A puck slides under a Michigan State defenseman despite that guy dropping to one knee and Michigan's fourth line sweeps one in from point blank range. Northern throws a puck up the boards that just happens to hit Glendening in the tape and he flings it cross-ice to Treais, who does what Treais does and fires a laser-guided missile into the net.
It's great to get wins like that, sure. You are either unfamiliar with college hockey or a great dirty liar if it doesn't make you nervous, though. In April this team is going to be going up against team after team like they have in the second half of the season. They'll never meet last year's North Dakota. There is no last year's North Dakota. This means however they lose, if they lose, will be brutal.
Michigan's looking good for a one seed but we've seen puck after puck that cares nothing for expectation and craves only chaos, and it's getting to be that time of year. Prepare the antacid and whiskey: playoff hockey is around the corner.
It's impossible to think things like the above and look at Michigan's RPI chart within minutes of each other without saying a little prayer of thanks that this…
…was not the season*. But now we're over it and have been talking about what Michigan needs to be a one seed for two months. Michigan has been as close to a dominant team as you can be for a long time now, and instead of being grateful to extend the tourney streak I'm steeling myself for the usual combination of anticipation and dread that accompanies single elimination hockey.
This is probably why I advised everyone to savor the final few games of basketball season. That team can be happy with being there. Hockey can't even if the above stretch threatened the tourney streak. Hockey has become a ghost-ridden thing over the past dozen years. Once recovery is in the rear view the tournament looms ahead, silent, red-haired, and wild-eyed. Loki is coming, and he has been kind recently. Be afraid.
*[How bizarre is that Ferris State sweep in retrospect? Ferris is going to win the league bar a sweep by Western and is in pretty good shape for a one-seed itself. Michigan destroyed them in the midst of their horrendous stretch.]
The latter does a great job of emphasizing how frequently Pateryn was annihilating various Wildcats.
Michigan moved up to second on the weekend but still loses comparisons with two teams, BC and UMD. Thanks to Michigan's GLI win over the Eagles, passing BC is a simple matter of finishing ahead of them in RPI. Any other scenario that sees Michigan take the comparison also has M ahead in RPI, so that's easy enough.
UMD is a tougher, more annoying matter. They're getting significantly beat in RPI but win both COP (thanks to M's split against Western) and TUC. They're about a game in front there despite the RPI gap. Michigan will need them to limp down the stretch.
UMD is the only comparison it looks like Michigan can lose based on RPI right now thanks to BU's loss to BC in the Beanpot. That evened Michigan's COP with BU and there's nothing the Bulldogs can do about that except make it worse until the playoffs.
Playing BG is good and bad. They should be easy to beat but they provide no upside. A sweep barely budges Michigan's RPI; a split will see them drop.
Upshot for the people who don't care about the details: Michigan should finish at most one spot below their RPI ranking, which is currently second but could drop to fifth or sixth if they don't play well. If they take care of BGSU this weekend they will probably get a one seed as long as they reach and go 1-1 at the Joe. You hate Duluth and want them to die.
BONUS: Remember how I said Northern was on the bubble despite being ninth last week? At 16th they'd be out of the tournament if it started today. Do not look at bracketology columns. They are more pointless than college hockey polls.
Revisiting Luke Glendening. After Glendening had a bad weekend in which he seemed at least partially responsible for three separate Notre Dame goals, I pointed out that he'd been dragging in +/- terms and scoring and that he'd have been exiled to the fourth line if he wasn't the captain.
This had the same effect as painting 1,181 across your hairless chest might. Since then he's had points in 5 of 6 games and has a 1-6-7 line as the second line has scored every night. Yeah, he's benefiting from AJ Treais's insane run of top shelf snipes, but he's getting Treais the puck in situations where he can unleash his shot. See: OT winner last night.
I got AJ Treais all wrong. I called him a less dynamic TJ Hensick, but this is not right. Right now he's a less dynamic Mike Cammalleri. Cammalleri is the magic midget with the most lethal shot in MGoMemory, and Treais is a threat to water bottles all over the Gongshow at the moment.
Wait… what? A quick glimpse at Michigan's stats shows Lee Moffie at the top of the scoring charts with 6-23-29. That is a lot of points. He, too, has been on a mighty run the last three weekends, scoring three goals and assisting on six others. I say Michigan shortens its bench considerably in the playoffs and rides their top two pairings extensively.
Speaking of… Michigan tried to mitigate the issues with their third pairing by breaking Merrill and Moffie apart so that there was always at least one guy Red trusts on the ice at all times. This did not go so well. Chiasson had a couple of brutal turnovers, Merrill made some plays in his defensive zone that clearly indicated he had no faith in the freshman, and pairing Moffie with Serville was asking to die along the boards. Michigan eventually went back to their earlier plan and now seem stuck with it.
This seems like a situation where Michigan should go full Krug with their top four guys, no?
This can backfire. I remember a certain game against Maine back in the day—Comrie's last game, so 2000—during which Michigan rode five defenseman until the fifth got injured. They had only four and Bob Gassoff*—and by the end of that game Mike Komisarek could barely move. After Comrie got a half-breakaway and converted five-hole, Maine got Michigan stuck in their own zone and wore them down in the third period. The goals that followed felt inevitable.
So you have to get some shifts for the third pairing guys in, but offensive zone faceoffs only against guh opponents only, please.
*[Bob Gassoff is now a Navy Seal and could probably rip my head off with two fingers. So it is with some trepidation that I reveal that as a student I once cried out "WHY EVEN GIVE HIM A STICK?" when Red iced Gassoff at some point that year. He was a guy with no discernible skill except fighting people, which is discouraged. If you think this year's defense is frighteningly thin you have no idea. Just no idea at all.]
Third line. Still bupkis. They'll get something against BG, right? I mean, they have to one of these days.
I predicted that Jon Merrill would have a bounce back series after last weekends MSU fiasco. The thing that has always separated Merrill from others is his hockey I.Q. You either have it or you don't, things like this can't not be taught.
This play starts out as a regular clear for the Wildcats, nothing special just a puck sent out of the zone.
Head up the whole way Merrill gets the puck from Moffie and finds Deblois cutting through the middle.
The Northerners are all kinds of confused, obviously since the blueliner has closed his legs like he's in shot blocking position.
As you can see they are caught way out of position.
The only play left for NMU is to go for the hook, bring him down and try your luck on the PK. Deblois does a great job of keeping the puck and staying on his feet to finish the play off.
“The way he’s been putting the puck in the net, I kinda was a little premature on my celebration,” Pateryn said. “My gloves weren’t off, but hands went up. ... Thankfully, he put it in.”
Press conference recaps from Friday and Saturday from Michigan Hockey Net. I was surprised that Berenson was so down on the Friday performance; I felt like they were mostly dominant 5x5 and got screwed on penalties. They got caught in their own zone three or four times and gave up scary chances but I don't think that's a matter of toughness; it's just that the third pairing is scary.
I was at both games and I thought Friday they looked shakey at best after the 1st 10mins. Sure, penaties were 5-1 at one point, but that was a tight game and a tight series overall. I'd really like the chance to get down to BG this weekend.
I thought the third pairing wasn't that bad on Friday night. It only got bad on Saturday because Kevin Clare suffered an injury that required Red to play both Serville and Chaisson, which I don't think we have seen since Merrill has come back. I didn't think it'd be that big of a loss, but Kevin Clare is clearly a step up from the other two. As long as Clare is back, there is no way Red will roll the top four significantly more often. Also, Travis Lynch was out on Saturday, and Rohrkemper was in for him. Another injury?
I thought Rohrkemper was in because it was senior night, and I thought he was a senior (I knew he is a year older than me, and he graduated from high school in '07. Then after the game I looked and realized he is still a junior, since he spent two years in the USHL.
So long story short, I don't know why Rohrkemper was in and Travis Lynch out. It might just be Red trying to get Jeff in--he hasn't played much at all this year, and he may be needed for the tournament. He did manage to score a goal in the national championship game last year.
"The trouble with quotes on the internet, is that it is often difficult to discern whether or not they are genuine" --Abraham Lincoln
This Plinko Nonsense Has Been Going On For 2+ Decades
Yes, it has been a rough 12 years. But this trend dates back to the early to mid 90s. Michigan has always been dominant. Lake State did the deed several times in the early 90s. Remember the Maine OT debacle. UM finally broke through in Cincinnati vs. CC. Then the next year UND breaks our hearts in Milwaukee with probably best team UM has had over the last 20 years. Unexpected Frozen Four win over BC notwithstanding, it has been a maddening 20 years of UM tournament hockey ... but as always, better to "enjoy" the agonizing ride then to not be playing at all.
I'm with you on that. But Brian's words ring true: too many Senior Night flags, not enough banners hanging in Yost. I think we all expected AT LEAST two more NC's the past decade-plus. We certainly had the talent to do it.
As it does to a lot of people inside Yost, hockey means more to me than football, mostly because I remember my first game there as a kid in 1998. There was just something about Michigan Hockey that felt unique, passionate, reserved for those hardcore, chosen few sitting inside the old barn.
I guess that's why the disappointments have been so magnified. Every year, before hockey season starts, I hope and pray that THIS YEAR WILL BE THE YEAR we finally win another National Championship. 2012? We have as good a chance as anyone.
Actually, it was Boston University who beat us in Milwaukee, with the BU band playing "On Wisconsin." That spoiled a much-anticipated matchup between Michigan and North Dakota in the final.
But you're right, it's been 20+ years of mostly frustration, at least at the very end. Although there have been a lot of great wins too. I think you need outstanding goaltending, and while we've had some good ones, we haven't had a truly dominating goaltender since Turco, until now. That's why we were so close last year.
I saw it coming as he started to hunker down in the corner with two northern's descending on him and I just yelled "NO MAC!". I mean he should've just passed the puck to the guy who scored the goal so he could at least get a quasi-assist for it. I really don't understand what his gameplan was there.
And agreed on college hockey playoffs, it's brutal. Even wins feel like barely soul crushing averted loses. I feel like I lose a year off my life for every loss and three years off for every win
Rudy watches inspirational movies about Shawn Hunwick
It's obviously way too early to play the TUC cliff game, but I think that the UMD comparison flips if Wisconsin falls off the TUC cliff (and that could happen, they've been terrible in the WCHA and still have to play @Bemidji and @Minnesota. If they fall out, UMD loses a win and a tie in the TUC, which will make the TUC comparison an exact tie (although Michigan will have 2x the TUC games). RPI breaks the 1-1 tie and Michigan get the comparison.
Note1: Both teams will play more TUC games and so it's not really worth breaking this down at this point.
Note2: Common opponents are ND and WMU. UMD is 3-1 against them, but M split both series. Best case scenario, M gets ND in the CCHA quarters and goes 2-0 and WMU in either the semi's or the finals bringing the COp up to 5-2 which won't get it done. M can't catch UMD in COp.
I haven't been to a hockey game in ages, so take this with an elk-sized lick of salt....but I thought the ice looked bad Saturday. Did anyone else think this? Seemed like the puck was bouncing and rolling sometimes when it should have been sliding. I wondered if that was why our guys looked kinda off.
Obviously lousy ice hurts both teams, but I think you'd notice it more with a better team.
Candace: No... That why they make smart word box for tell monkey hard brain-hurty things.
Phineas: Removing prepositions makes it more condescending.