There’s a recurring gag in American Hustle in which Louis C.K.’s Stoddard Thorsen is trying to tell Bradley Cooper’s Richie DiMaso about a time that Thorsen went ice fishing (in Michigan, no less) and something happened to his brother, but DiMaso cuts the story off. DiMaso thinks he has the ending figured out, that there’s no reason for Thorsen to waste time attempting to explain something that’s so painfully obvious. In actuality DiMaso never gets the end of the story right.
This is the way the season has gone for Michigan hockey. Just when we think we might know what this team is or is not they surprise us. Prior to the season there was a great deal of skepticism surrounding everything because last season didn’t exactly inspire confidence in any area. Then Michigan goes on a run, beats a number of legitimately good teams and ends up ranked #3. Fast forward to the end of December and Michigan is losing in the most unenthusiastic fashion imaginable to the same State team they swept aside this weekend.
The truth about this Michigan team is that we don’t know where they will end up when the season’s over. I think they’ll make the NCAA Tournament, but what happens after that is impossible to discern. I could have barked out disparate conclusions after games in October and December and either of them could still come true. Luckily for us the “good” Michigan, the team that I actually believe could make a run in the Tournament, showed up this weekend.
Michigan State vs. #14 Michigan
Thursday, January 23, 2014
UM 1 MSU 0 11:36 EV
Compher from DeBlois & Guptill
Guptill has the puck behind the net and initially loses it, but he checks hard and twice keeps a State player from clearing the puck out of the zone. On one of the clearing attempts it hits him and stays stationary before being picked up by DeBlois.
DeBlois passes to Compher, who’s open at the side of the net. State’s lone defenseman is watching the play unfold up the boards and doesn’t even think about moving towards Compher until he already has the puck.
Compher sees that Hildebrand has one pad on the ice and is sealing the post well, so he tries to pass across the crease. The puck goes off of the State defenseman’s stick blade and ends up back with Compher.
Hildebrand has moved off the post and tries to shift back across the crease but can’t do so before Compher’s put the puck in the net.
UM 1 MSU 1 6:04 EV
Ferrantino from Cox & Holland
Michigan State wins the faceoff and gets the puck to the point. Holland shoots immediately and Nagelvoort makes the save but gives up a rebound.
Downing sees the rebound and tries to clear it put can’t do so before Cox stabs at the puck.
Ferrantino has good body position on the defender, and the puck is tipped past Nagelvoort off of his stick. Ferrantino is behind Compher the whole (admittedly very short) play, and this leads to a goal against.
UM 2 MSU 1 17:42 EV
Di Giuseppe from Copp & De Jong
This goal doesn’t happen without Andrew Copp. State has a chance to clear picked off their stick when Copp comes in from behind and steals the puck away, passing it to De Jong at the point. De Jong shoots and Hildebrand stops the shot but gives up a rebound.
Copp is in behind his defender and gets a shot on net that Hildebrand once again stops. Another rebound ends up in front of the net that PDG backhands into the half open net, up and over the sprawled Hildebrand
#14 Michigan at Michigan State
Friday, January 24, 2014
MSU 1 UM 0 17:29 PPG
Sorenson from Walsh & Ferranti
Staee (that's not a typo) works the puck up the boards and moves it laterally across the blue line. Michigan’s penalty kill is in a box formation, and at this point I’m thinking that they’re collapsing on net purposefully. This is almost a carbon copy of a goal they gave up against Wisconsin. D-to-D passes are going to be completed without disruption when your strategy is to collapse.
This puck finds the only low part of the net that would allow it to go in. It worked so, uh, good job Staee, I guess?
MSU 1 UM 1 19:54 EV
Compher from Nieves & DeBlois
The Michigan State defenseman circled is late jumping back in to the play, which is why State’s other defender is in the middle of the ice. This leaves room for Compher to carry the puck in down the wing with speed.
Compher switches to the backhand and sees that the defenseman has decided to take away the pass. He has an opportunity to shoot and takes it, beating Hildebrand under his blocker.
MSU 1 UM 2 5:09 EV
DeBlois from Compher
Michigan dumps the puck in and DeBlois chases it down along the boards. You’ve heard of puck luck? Let’s watch it in stills.
The puck flutters, seems to hit the ice, and takes a jump.
Like a Miguel Cabrera shot to left, it just keeps rising and rising. Sorry, I was following along with Tigerfest on Twitter this weekend.
MSU 2 UM 2 7:19 PPG
Ferrantino from Haag & Sorenson
Michigan is once again set up in a box on the penalty kill. State moves the puck from the blue line down the boards. Michigan’s two netfront defenders take note and see that the skater is going to take the puck to the net.
Nagelvoort stops the shot but gives up a rebound in the slot. Serville picks up Ferrantino after he’s already charged the net, putting his stick in Ferrantino’s midsection. Ferrantino doesn’t hesitate to hack at the puck until it crosses the line.
Here’s the reverse angle.
MSU 2 UM 3 5:23 EV
DeBlois from Serville & Compher
This goal is a result of DeBlois being in exactly the right place at the right time. Michigan enters the zone and moves the puck back to Serville at the blue line. He snaps a shot on net, and it happens to deflect off of DeBlois’ stick and into the net.
“DID YOU GUYS SEE WHAT I-“
MSU 2 UM 4 6:14 EV
Bennett from Selman & Clare
Michigan wins a battle along the boards and chips the puck to the blue line. Bennett and Selman take off, and Bennett works a give-and-go. After passing back to Selman he skates past his defender, bumping him in the process. The defender falls down and ties up another MSU player in the process.
Selman passes under an outstretched stick to Bennett, who is now freed up alone in the slot.
Bennett shows some stickhandling skill here, going forehand-backhand-forehand to beat Hildebrand. I liken this goal to being the shy kid in discussion section who knows they can contribute but is waiting for precisely the right time to do so. One day the GSI throws out a question that you immediately know the answer to, but no one’s answering. Is this it? Seconds pass, no one answers, and this becomes the moment that you seize the opportunity and run with it.
MSU 2 UM 5 13:54 SHG
Compher from Copp & Bennett
Michigan wins another battle behind the net, moves the puck up the middle of the defensive zone, and passes to Copp along the wing. He carries it into the neutral zone and has Compher in the middle of the ice with only one defenseman back to cover.
This is a Mickey Redmond bingo-bango special.
photo via lostlettermen.com