I loved the Arrested Development connection.
More Milford Men Than Michigan Men: Comparing the 11-12 and 12-13 Hockey Teams
Michigan men represent excellence academically and athletically. At least that's what they represent if you believe the two statues above the doors to the Union. Milford men, on the other hand, are adept at being neither seen nor heard. Buster Bluth was a Milford man. The 2012-13 Michigan hockey team played like one.
The 2012-13 Michigan Wolverines took the ice in October ranked #3 in the country by USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine. That preseason poll was the highlight of the season. Things went downhill quickly, and if you've been reading this blog for a while you'll remember that this team didn't do much to endear itself to the Michigan faithful. Now that we've had time to let the healing power of the basketball team's run to the title game and football recruiting goodness to soak in I think it's time to go back and try to figure out what went wrong for the team that broke The Streak™.
For comparison, let's look at the stats of the 2011-12 Wolverines versus those of the 2012-13 squad. This idea was inspired by Ron Utah's excellent post comparing the 2011 and 2012 football teams. The 11-12 hockey team lost in the first round, so we aren't exactly starting with high expectations for success here. Shawn Hunwick, Luke Glendening and David Wohlberg were the most significant departures from the 11-12 team.
2011-12 Michigan Hockey: 24-13-4 overall. 15-9-4 conference
Home: 15-5-1, Away: 4-6-3. Neutral: 5-2-0
|Faceoff W-L Pct.||.497||.503|
2012-13 Michigan Hockey: 18-19-3 overall, 10-15-3 conference
Home: 10-8-1. Away: 5-8-2, Neutral: 3-3-0
|Faceoff W-L Pct.||.514||.486|
I highlighted the things that really stood out to me. Everything is open for interpretation, but let's start with the basics. The 11-12 team scored 43 more goals than they allowed, while the 12-13 team scored one fewer goal than they allowed. Ouch. If you're wondering how shot volume impacted things, it doesn't get any prettier. Michigan had very similar offensive output in 11-12 and 12-13; their total shots were about the same and their scoring percentage was an identical 9.6%. The real fluctuation from year-to-year occurs when you look at the opponent's shots; 1242 allowed in 11-12 versus 1126 in 12-13. Even though the 11-12 team allowed more shots opponents only scored on 7.2% of them, compared with 11.5% in 12-13.
Special teams can't be used to explain away the year-to-year differences. Michigan actually scored more power play goals in 12-13 (31) than they did in 11-12 (23). Looking at it from the perspective of the penatly kill, MIchigan allowed fewer power play goals in 12-13 (24) than they did in 11-12 (27). Michigan spent less time on the penalty kill in 12-13, but they also spent almost two minutes less per game on the power play that season. It appears as though Michigan was outmatched at even strength throughout the 12-13 season, so much so that they missed the tournament and won six fewer games.
What does it mean for next season?
I wish I knew. Steven Racine established himself as the starter going into 2013-14, and that's more than you can say for the 12-13 team. There are some good prospects coming in (highlighted by former US NTDP forward JT Compher), but is that enough to replace the mass exodus of point scoring that Michigan will suffer this offseason? It doesn't seem likely. Michigan loses AJ Treais' 31 points, Jacob Trouba's 29 points, and Kevin Lynch's 27 points. Those were three of Michigan's top six pointgetters in 12-13. On the other hand, Michigan's problem in 12-13 was clearly one of defense and not offense so anything is possible. All it takes are guys who are willing and able to forecheck and backcheck, and as a sport hockey still lacks the sophisticated statistics that are able to capture the more esoteric elements of the game.
I loved the Arrested Development connection.
You've made a huge mistake...
Team chemistry is the big unknown factor. With that many NHL draft picks on the team and the recruits coming in next year, talent won't be the issue...it hasn't been for a long time with Michigan. It will come down to how the team plays together for a common goal and how well they buy into the system. Leaders of the team next year will need to play for the team and not their draft stock.
I think you're right in that the team needs to be more cohesive and buy into the system if they want to be successful in 2013-14. We started to see that at the end of the season and look at what happened. The irony here is that individualistic play should happen less in hockey than sports like football or basketball because, for the most part, players who are going to be in the NHL someday have been drafted before their college career even starts. I think that last year's team knew how talented they were and too often looked to make the highlight reel play instead of the simple but smarter play. Here's hoping that doesn't happen in 13-14.
We all know that leadership was a problem, they just didn't have the bounce back that teams had in the past after something bad happened. Before AJ, when was the last time we had a pure scorer wearing the C?
He wasn't only a scorer, but he certainly scored plenty. Brendan Morrison in 1997. If you want not a Hobey winner, probably Brian Wiseman in 1994. Matt Herr in 1998 scored a ton the year before he was captain, if that counts.
All four of those players played defense, killed penalties and forechecked. AJ is a scorer, that's it. Typically a scorer will not have the vocal leadership qualities that a defensive minded player has and it was brought up that AJ was more of quiet, lead by example type of captain.
I was stretching. I always wondered why Kevin Lynch didn't end up being captain, after Chris Brown left, I thought he fit the prototype better. But even when they gave him the A things didn't get better. They didn't get better until pure desperation kicked in.
I do wonder how different things would have turned out if Brown had stayed. Perhaps it's one of those things where nothing was going to help them, regardless of who the C was, or maybe if had ended up staying and being captain, it would have made all the difference, people would have started playing before March, he woulda scored a ton and maybe without the pressure of trying to lead a dilapidated team, AJ continues his torrid scoring pace from the first few weeks all the way to the NCAA title.
As it is, I feel bad for the kid. He'll always be the Captain that let The Streak™ get away.