well thats a depressing preview. i'm just going to shamelessly watch our highlights from last weekend all afternoon to prop up my optimism
Puck Preview: CCHA Finals
|WHAT||Friday: Michigan vs Miami
Saturday: Michigan vs Ferris State/Northern Michigan
|WHERE||Joe Louis Arena, Detroit|
|WHEN||Friday: 8:05 PM.
Saturday: Championship @ 7:35 PM. Third place game @ 4:35.
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||Friday: BTN HD
Record. Yeeergh. 26-6-7 overall. 21-2-7 (with two shootout wins) in the CCHA. The ferocity with which Miami pwned the CCHA has to be approaching record territory. They had 70 points, 20 more than second-place Michigan State. Their conference goal differential was +61. Michigan and Northern tied for second in that category at +14. This may be the best CCHA team since Brendan Morrison and company.
However, Miami did look somewhat mortal last weekend. 6-2 over Ohio State on Friday was not a surprise, but they lost 5-4 in overtime the next night and squeezed out a 2-1 series clincher in game three. Look a little deeper, though:
- Friday shots: 42-28, Miami
- Saturday: 46-21, Miami
- Sunday: 24-23, Miami
It's a miracle it even got to Sunday.
It was weird at the time and it's weirder now: the most bizarre series of the season in college hockey is Miami getting swept by the CHA's Robert Morris in a home and home. Miami is Miami. Robert Morris went 6-9-3 in the CHA. Against teams not named Miami, Robert Morris was 8-19-6. WTF?
Previous meetings. The only two meetings of the year started Michigan's November tailspin. Game one was a penalty-laden, frustrating affair that may stand the test of time as the game most emblematic of Michigan's 2009-10 season. Michigan outshot the Redhawks 28-13 and lost 3-1. Along the way they failed to convert on a penalty shot, put a number of shots off the post, and missed wide open nets. They found a way to lose that game.
The next night was totally different. Miami had the advantage in shots and walked away with the game early in the third, causing Michigan to melt down and take 19 penalties. Berenson called them out for it in the aftermath, and they responded by getting swept by Michigan State.
Dangermen. Might be quicker to pick the kids who don't seem particularly threatening. Junior forward Justin Vaive only has eight points. Freshman Steve Mason has played all of five games. Backup goalie Connor Knapp has two assists.
Aaand we're running out of names. Miami has four(!) players currently at or above a PPG: senior Jared Palmer and juniors Tommy Wingels (right, via cnati.com), Andy Miele, and Carter Camper are all in a tight cluster of 39-44 points. All have at least fifteen goals. This means Michigan cannot throw Hagelin and company at the opponent's top line and turn them into spectators. (It also means that you can expect Miami to be this good again next year: they have two seniors who play regularly.)
There's a dropoff after those guys but it's a dropoff to junior Pat Cannone, who has a 12-16-28 line. So… right. Miami has almost two lines of double-digit goalscorers.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Cody Reichard and Conor Knapp are still rotating even this deep into the season. Reichard has played more than Knapp so far this year and got the first two games in the OSU series, but was pulled in favor of Knapp after he gave up five goals on 21 shots in Ohio State's OT win. As of Wednesday, Miami had not named a starter.
This is not like Michigan's choice between Hogan and Hunwick. Reichard and Knapp are #3 and #9 nationally in save percentage with a .930 and .920, respectively. Either one is a far better option than Michigan's goalies.
As far as those go, it will be Hunwick this weekend:
"It's a pretty easy decision," Berenson said before practice Tuesday afternoon. "I have to play Hunwick. He got us there. (Bryan) Hogan's skated at practice. He'll take shots today. He'll be our backup if he's ready to go."
He is Red Berenson and can shoot lasers from his eyes at anyone with temerity to question his judgment, but man I disagree with that. Though Hunwick's save percentage is holding up pretty well so far, there have been a ton of soft goals and even more fat rebounds that opponents have not been able to capitalize on. Maybe Hogan's still feeling the effects of his groin injury and Berenson is phrasing it this way for motivational/confidence purposes.
Miami has been as good on defense as they are on offense, shielding the goalies—when you've got two guys in the top ten in save percentage chances are your defensive corps has an awful lot to say about that. Here Miami is also poised to bring back virtually everyone. USCHO lists senior Brendan Smith as a defenseman, but he's actually been bumped to forward this year to make room for a collection of sophomores and freshmen. Vincent LoVerde is the only upperclassman; he and Cameron Schilling are the top pair.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||5.3||5.6|
|PP Ag / G||5.4||5.3|
Surprisingly for such a talented team, Miami kills more power plays than it draws. This seems to be wholly the responsibility of freshman forward Curtis McKenzie, who has a spectacular 43 minor penalties this year.
Does this matter much? Eh… not really. Miami's kill is fourth nationally at 87.3% and has seven shorthanded goals. Michigan dropped a little bit after that first period outburst by Michigan State but is still seventh at 86.3%. Also a surprise: for a team that scores as many goals as Miami does, their power play is kind of lame. They're 33rd at 18.4%. Michigan is slightly better at 19.2%.
Neither team was particularly successful in the earlier series, with Michigan going 1 for 14 and Miami going 2 for 15. Two of those goals were five on three, the third four on three. This is a series that's going to be decided at even strength.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Do whatever the hell it is you have been doing lately. Michigan can play with Miami. We saw that in the first matchup of the season between the two teams, where an epic ton of bad luck and iffy goaltending sent Michigan down to defeat. And we've seen it in the CCHA playoffs to date. Michigan's opponent has been run out of the building four straight times.
Sure, post-human Miami wouldn't even comprehend Lake State as a hockey team, but humiliating Michigan State in the fashion Michigan did has to count for something.
Clone Carl Hagelin and put him on three lines. They might have done this, actually. Do it again. I have something in my head where after a game the Michigan hockey team gathers in a circle and removes their helmets and they're all Carl Hagelin and they all go "bork"… is it a dream or a nightmare?
Pray like hell. Even if Michigan plays at the level they have been of late, I can't see Miami going as quietly as Michigan's first two playoff opponents. Hunwick is going to face his share of grade A chances. I worry about that. It will take a superhuman defensive effort to win.
The Big Picture
No matter how you thwack the Pairwise predictors there is no way to get Michigan into the tournament without an autobid. It's all on the line.
If Michigan wins Friday I'll hop in with a conference championship preview.
it will all depend on if hunwick gets help in the defense zone and if we have chris summers back if we do and play smart i hvve a good feeling we will beat MIAmi now in the first semi i hope its ferris but like ncaa tournament yesterday strange bounces can happen
He's still out. It was mentioned like Wednesday. It's in one of the AA.com articles Brian linked at the end. If ever there was a game where I would appreciate having our first-round draft pick of a senior captain defenseman on the ice, I think this would be it. Beyond it being Miami and do-or-die, I definitely enjoy Summers' tendency to do the whole "Oh look, it's the puck, oh look, it's about to go into the wide open net, I should probably stop that" and then he does stop it and then generally we go the other way and good things happen. I think I would have an even intense-er joy at seeing him using that ability when our tiny walk-on is goalie. But what can you do...
I agree with you on Summers. I was really hoping that UM beats MSU so that Summers could play some more games in his final season as a Wolverine, but I guess his injury was worse that I thought. I really enjoyed seeing him play, and we could definitely use some quality performance from our senior captain and top defenseman, but you're right on- what can we do? GO BLUE.
the boys can pull out one more tomorrow and give Summers another week to heal and another chance to play his senior year. Considering he could have left at pretty much any time any year and came back all four years, earned captain-ship only to have it be during Michigan's worst season in probably 20 years and then gets injured just when the team starts to play well, I think he deserves it.
I, for one, will not let this preview negbomb my optimism about our miraculous run. GO BLUE!
Not happy about getting Hunwick. Yes he got us here and has played well, but he definitely has a ceiling to his play. Though with a groin, I bet you Hoagies not near 100%.
I would say clone Carl and Matt then put them together on three lines. That would be a dream.
Yep. From what I've heard, Hogan's not all that close to being ready so questioning the goalie decision is moot.
unfortunately. Miami basically wore Michigan down with their depth in the first meeting, that is after the blown chances and soft goals. The second game started out fine, had the lead and got trucked.. thus the infamous Red "spoiled brats" line.
But, I'll put on the hat of optimism and say that... Michigan has never lost to Miami, Ferris and NMU at the JLA. That's right, 10-0 against them in the CCHA tourney. And if Robert Morris can do it, so can Michigan. Just don't mind the assmunchers cheering for Miami that wear other school colors. It comes with the territory.
Robert Morris lost :-/
FYI, both FSD games should be in HD (both today's 4:30p NMU/FSU game and tomorrow's 7:30p championship).
From Brian's last sentence, I will be looking forward to reading your blog tomorrow for the preview. Now go play some slots or cards or get a lap dance.
It's not like major upsets don't happen. Michigan will need a miracle though, Miami is amazing.
...but I take issue with saying this is the best CCHA team since Brendan Morrison and co. I would say they're the best CCHA team since 07-08, and those Wolverines would beat this Redhawks team.
Hey, its the biggest game of the year. until tomorrow, of course.
but, you have to know the lines given the stakes tonight.
per 5dimes, where they list college hockey all season long, here is what they're offering tonight
UM +1.5 goals, -170....wager 170 to win 100
Miami -1.5 goals, +130.....wage 100 to win 130
O/U 5 goals, -120 odds on each side
Heavy juice on the Wolverines, but go ahead and Book It, amirite!?!?!?