Various impressions from Michigan's exhibition weekend.
Michigan lacks that one pure dirty scorer. There's no Cammalleri or Comrie or Hensick on this team, nor is there a senior duo like Kolarik and Porter. The best player on the team is probably Carl Hagelin, a guy who dumps in his share of goals but gets them via dint of hard work and speed more than stickhandling through a phone booth and roofing it in close. Caporusso (right) is probably going to end up being the top scorer, and while he's talented he seems a step down from the Hobey types mentioned above. His main skills are getting himself open in dangerous positions and a deadly accurate close-range wrister that allows him to take advantage of the opportunities he gets from there.
The best guys in terms of stickhandling might actually be a pair of defensemen. According to the Daily, Berenson would like to get his freewheeling defense corps more involved in the offense this year. Yost saw signs of that last weekend,with both Langlais and Burlon putting on the pirate hats and sallying forth into the offensive zone. Langlais's ability to zip through traffic and set up the power play was reminiscent of the last guy to wear #7—Hensick—at certain points, and he was clearly looking to yo-ho-ho into the offensive zone when the opportunity presented itself. I've probably made this comparison before, but Langlais is a near clone of Eric Werner, another undersized swashbuckling defenseman who thrilled Yost with his offensive abilities.
Burlon, meanwhile, isn't quite as flashy but is ultra-composed on the puck and has an excellent shot. With those two in the lineup, Michigan will probably deploy two defenders on the top power play unit for the first time in a very long while. BONUS: the offensive dropoff from those two to Kampfer and Summers isn't particularly steep, either. What Michigan lacks in pure death scoring from the forwards they can probably make up for with defensive contributions.
Freshmen. Bullets on the new kids:
Everyone's been calling AJ Treais a less dynamic version of TJ Hensick and that was borne out. In Hensick's debut as a Michigan player he zipped all over the ice and lit a pair of exhibition opponents up for something like five points; Treais didn't quite get that and he wasn't as dynamic but displayed hints of that kind of ability. He'll probably be stuck on the third line this year, but second power-play unit time awaits and he could hit 20 points.
Chris Brown is a big, physical dude who needs polish. He tried the old trick where you get position on the defender and then ride in front of him across the net for a scoring chance, but instead of going across the net he went directly into the back of it. He was a second-round pick, but that's way less exciting for the college team in question when you're 6'2"; NHL guys go for size over immediate impact with regularity. Brown was good about putting the body on folks and had some flashes of offensive competence; tough to tell this early but a Ryznar or a Nystrom might be a good comparable.
Kevin Lynch didn't do much I observed. Judgement withheld.
I didn't notice Lee Moffie much, either, except for a few instances where he showed good poise with the puck. Another Kampfer? He's a bit bigger. He'll probably see a fair amount of healthy scratches this year, as he's the seventh defenseman.
The two walk-ons, Jeff Rohkemper and Lindsay Sparks, didn't do a whole lot. I liked Sparks better, he seems quick and eminently capable of being an annoyance on the forecheck. He had some pop in junior, too.
Lines? The official hockey twitter threw out the following lines for Sunday's game against Windsor:
Wohlberg, Caporusso, Czarnik
Lebler, Treais, Winnett
Hagelin, Lynch, Brown
Rohrkemper, Ciraulo, Vaughan
During the season, Rust will draw into the lineup somewhere, bumping someone on the top three lines onto the fourth. Before the weekend I would have assumed this was a lock to be Lebler, but Lebler looked surprisingly good for a guy who's mostly been an end-of-roster grinder thus far.
The fourth line will be whoever the top-nine refugee is plus a blender of Glendening, Ciraulo, Vaughn, Sparks, and Rohrkemper. I'm betting on Glendening to play most of the games and everyone else to rotate, drawing in when injuries and whatnot happen.
That is a lot of depth. The nominal second line here is really the third line; a top line like that above backed up with something like Hagelin/Rust/Brown and a third line of Winnett/Lynch/Treais is a lot of scoring depth, and that's not even considering the defense, which was scratching an NHL draft pick last year and is currently Summers-Kampfer-Langlais-Burlon-Llewellyn-Pateryn. I am confident in all of those guys, though I'm not a big fan of Llewellyn's tendency towards unnecessary roughing penalties, and then you've got a scholarship kid on the bench. In all places except goal, this is the deepest Michigan team in a while.
The Blues Brothers. Okay. Okay: seriously. Okay. Remember that one guy who was really, really into Kid A in college and whenever you'd go over to his room, Kid A would be on and at first it was cool and then eventually you just dreaded it because God who wants to listen to Kid A again? I, sadly, am at that point with "Can't Turn You Loose." Ever since Jack Johnson left and Superfan sold out and there was no alpha dancing dog, the second period dancing thing has been a chaotic mess**. Then at the end of the season two years ago the entire student section started dancing, which would have made for a really cool end-of-year tradition. Instead, it happens every second period and then the students demand more and the band is playing "Can't Turn You Loose" for like ten minutes straight.
Sure, everybody loves Kid A*. But sometimes it's a little too much, proto-emo kid. You make me want to go hang out with that guy who's always watching The Breakfast Club and mouthing the lines.
*(Except me. Never got the whole Radiohead thing.)
**(In the long long ago, there was just one guy who danced. Usually it was Superfan. When Superfan was not there it fell to either 1) guy in a ridiculous costume or 2) most humorously fat guy in the section. Then Jack Johnson came along and his dad did it to the delight of all other than Jack Johnson; after Johnson left about eight different people tried to take the mantle, one of whom was just a complete failure and would not listen to reason, thus causing the long descent into Unapproved Behavior. The unwritten law, now discarded, of Can't Turn You Loose is this order:
Jack Johnson Sr
Frankenberry costume or penguin costume guy.
Other humorously attired student.
Guys dressed up like Blues Brothers
Biggest, most ungainly guy in the section is drafted.
At no point should anyone who has ever worked for WOLV dance. YES I TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUSLY.)
Other band note. Major plus points for playing Temptation—all of Temptation—and Hawaiian War Chant in the first intermission. The You Can't Have One Without The Other duo is criminally underused across all Michigan sports and should be implemented whenever and wherever possible. Hopefully they continue that all season.
Minor ding: probably shouldn't play the Victors right before the team comes out, because then you're just going to have to play the Victors again.
2011 Recruitin'. High-end forward commit Lucas Lessio's playing at St. Mike's—the program that provided Cogliano, Caporusso, and Burlon to Michigan—in the OPJHL, but saw his OHL rights traded to another team that might have a better shot at him. The Wolverine's Bob Miller points out an interview with Lessio conducted after that trade. He's not headed for the OHL:
"I just love it there; I fell in love with it when I went to watch a game three years ago," said Lessio. "My heart's been set there probably ever since." …
"I try not to see these two seasons as an opportunity to relax knowing where I will be in two years," Lessio informed. "I always try to work hard at everything I do because if you work hard, even in practice, that's how you'll get better. Working hard should be your number one priority and then the rest of the things will fall into place so that's my number one priority when I go out there every game."
Rest of the article is worth a read; apparently Lessio just pulled out a version of this baby:
Miller also suggests that Austin Czarnik, the Michigan State decommit and last year's NTDP U-17 points leader, could be headed to an arena near you in the not particularly near future:
Heard this evening that a certain forward may who recently de-committed from wearing green and white may just wind up wearing maize and blue in the end. Cough...Austin Czarnik...cough. Info was second hand, but from a knowledgeable source.
Czarnik is one of those 5'8" puck wizards Michigan has a rich history of deploying to entertaining effect, and would be a great pickup to go with Lessio in the burgeoning 2011 class.
And the dancing really needs to be fixed in the 2nd intermission. It was BAD during the games I made it back to last year. Your suggestions are good although 1-3 are clearly on another level than the rest of the list.
I'm hoping that the dancing mania is symptomatic of the students that made it to Yost for a Sunday evening exhibition game with Windsor. Maybe the exuberance for the dancing will be tempered when there's a more representative sample of the student body at the games?
Seriously, though, it was an exhibition game. Can we save the encore dancing for big games & CCHA playoffs? That song is being killed. Killed.
Love the post Brian. I agree with all of your points and would like to elaborate on Lynch:
He is a big, strong, hard working player that has a knack for the net and will score most of his goals on rebounds or right in front of the net. He does not have that great of foot speed and that could handicap him at this level. I'd expect him to turn out like a bigger and slightly more skilled Tim Miller (not sure if that makes much sense). Where he works hard every night, gets his nose dirty, and his a ceiling of about 30 points on a good year (most likely as a junior or senior).
After watching the games this weekend, I think this Michigan team definitely lacks the offensive scoring power of teams from the past. They have 3, maybe 4, solid offensive lines, 3 good sets of defensive pairs, and a solid goalie in Hogan. Michigan will be a tough team to beat night in and night out (like always), but I think our scoring will handicap this team in the long run. They are going to have to win games and score as a unit, rather than blowing teams out with our NHL bound stars like we have in the past.
Something like that. I really do not like Lebler as a player, I think he is slow, not very skilled, and takes reckless penalties. He is a big body and can wear the other team down, so I suppose he does have a purpose and positive impact.
I'm excited for this season and cannot wait to see us kick MSU's ass again this season.
i don't see the scoring being a huge issue. we're the opposite of the M teams from the past where we had one KILLER line that would be +3 every night. but if we make up for that with 3 lines that are +1 every night, what's the diff?
in case you have dreams that the dancing will stop, you should brace yourself now for a long season. it isn't going to stop. too many of the guys who are always there starting all of the other chants are also the ones who chant for it every game
Rudy watches inspirational movies about Shawn Hunwick
Agree with Brian. As a 6-yr student ticket holder (96-02), I feel our legacy is being abused. I had to fill in for Superfan one game in '99 with the Blues Brothers dance and I practiced, wore appropriate costume (hockey jersey with solid blue tie, sunglasses, maize and blue puffy beret hat, and ate a whole Cottage Inn pizza by myself before hand to feel and look properly bloated), and mentally prepared myself for the task at hand. At the time the music started, I made my way to the aisle and began to dance Blues Bros style... the fake jogging Elwood, and the psuedo-jumping jack Jake. Even threw in some Hulk Hogan hand circles during the interlude part to encourage clapping. Overall, I felt a valiant effort.
Now, the so-called "group" dance looks like a bunch of mindless idiots milking a cow-- something that should be reserved for Indiana fans. If you're going to do a group dance to the song, then damn it kids, learn how to do the motions correct. It's not a milking the cow up and down motion with your arms, its a sway down and peak at a side (kind of the like the Thriller dance but instead of zombie claws go for trumpet hold), then right before the solos start, you tuck your head and arms down low in front middle, then slowly bring them up in a staccato fashion until you hit the top of the motion mathcing with the last blare of the trumpet.
Jeebus, I really need to get the PhD finished up so I can get a job as a prof at Mich, return to Yost as "Crazy Prof who Dances at Hockey Games", and teach these young ones about proper use of Sieve and Blues Bros. dances.
"So I come out of Ohio Stadium after we beat the Buckeyes, and right there on the hood of my friend's car, some one took a dump, in the shape of an 'O'. no shit. Oh, sorry, bad pun."
No mention of Jack Campbell and how great he looked? I think our lack of scoring on Saturday wasn't our fault, it was his for being awesome. He made some hard saves look easy. I feel like he's going to be the real deal.
Also, is it just me or could the team pack Hunwick in a suitcase if they need an extra seat on the team plane? I never realized just how tiny he is until he took up about 1/8 of the front of the goal. But he's fast. One of the goals he let in was not preventable by a guy his size, though... definitely wish he was an inch or two taller.
On a related note, it does seem that the student section has replaced some if its creativity with an overreliance on profanity.
For example, wife and kids went to the game on Saturday (I was out of town). Due to the numerous empty seats in the student section, they decided to sit in the student section. (At our normal seats, sometimes it is hard to make out what the students are chanting).
Apparently, several of the students (one drunkard in particular) were chanting F USA. A more reasonable student was trying to calm his friend down using a combination of: dude half these guys are going to be playing for us next year and come one there are kids around. The drunk's response was to hurl profanities the wife and kids because they weren't sitting where the were supposed to.
This, despite the fact that wife never said anything to the drunk. She knew what the kids were going to hear in the student section and didn't really care. They hear far worse from dad when he is watching sports. In other words, she wasn't shocked or bothered by the profanity, other than it appeared to replace creativity. She said there was no apparent attempt made to distinguish between the USA players who were coming to Michigan and those who were going to a rival.
This isn't to say the students should not use profanity. There are times where it is perfect. For example, we were at the FYS game, and it was appropriate, called for, and we joined in. I am afraid, however, that FYS will be the constant cheer at all UM/MSU games going forward.
I do believe that, if FYS does become the standard MSU cheer, it is well-deserved. You don't try to kill a hockey player and come back from that into a circle anywhere near respectable. You just don't.
My understanding is that both the players responsible are off the team. If I am wrong, then I would like to see FYS replaced with FY (player name) every time the player steps on the ice. If our current streak continues against MSU, I think other cheers make more sense. Anyone know how to say little brother in Swedish?
This has almost always been the case; I remember nearly getting in a fight with some guido during a USA game 5 or so years ago who just would not shut up. I thought the student section was largely better about it this time, but I'm no longer amongst them so I can't tell 100%.
Also: Tropp, the guy who swung the stick, is at State and is on their top line.
I was told that which game was played in does not correlate to actual roster position. The objective was to get all players ice time this weekend. Those who played both games are guarantees, but that's about it.
As a student section ticket holder from '00 through the current season and longtime cowbell guy of section 17, I'd like to disagree with you point about the dancing.
It was fun to watch the evolution of dancers as you have described it into the whole section dancing. When there no longer was a single person able to capably dance, the group of people I sit with started to dance instead. It was then picked up by the whole section as well.
I agree the dance itself may look a little ridiculous, but isn't that kinda the point? Also, it's a great way to entertain the crowd and get everyone into the game and psyched up for the third period (without any profanity I might include).
Speaking of profanity, yeah the rare drunk student gets out of control occasional and it's on the rest of the section to keep him under control. I've shamed people into keeping quiet before, and have seen others do it as well. Nobody likes to hear it, trust me.
So back to the dancing. We're all just trying to have a good time. It's part of what makes the atmosphere at Yost incredible and unique. Don't hate just because it looks a little uncoordinated or the moves aren't as 'cool' as you'd like. We're just having fun :)