well that's just, like, your opinion, man
mgoblog, hockey edition
Friday, October 23, 2015
Union 5, Michigan 5- OT
Union 1 UM 0 02:04 EV Dufour unassisted
Boo Nieves has the puck along the boards and carries to the blue line. As he turns to his right he’s bumped and starts to lose his balance.
Just as Nieves regains his balance the defender who was in the middle of the screenshot above steps up and strips the puck. This is a perfectly timed steal to the point that I don’t think there’s anything Nieves can do to prevent it.
Union’s Mark Dufour barrels through the neutral zone, but there are two Michigan defenders who are able to close and semi-impede his progress. Still, the screenshot below is one of the first moments where it becomes obvious that Union is a step ahead and going to be able to get a shot off; that shot, though, is going to come from Dufour as there isn’t anyone else remotely close.
Racine stays at the top of the crease too long. As Dufour cuts he’s given access to too much of the nearside net because Racine doesn’t slide and drop soon enough. Dufour is able to backhand one in to open the scoring.
[After THE JUMP: BELLYFLOP GOAL]
Union 1 UM 1 14:14 EV Kile (2) from De Jong (1) & Compher (2)
JT Compher wins the draw, but not in the traditional wins-and-knocks-it-back-to-a-waiting-teammate sense. He pokes the puck ahead and swims around the opposing center and then gathers and skates it up toward the blue line, where he dishes to a pinching De Jong.
Compher drew two defenders the wrong direction, but he defender nearest the boards in the screenshot above is able to stop and redirect and stay with De Jong. Because nothing about this play is conventional, De Jong loses an edge and passes to the front of the net from his knees. Kile reads it and tips the puck past Alex Sakellaropoulo.
Union 2 UM 1 17:32 SH Scarfo from Foo & Henry
Michigan is on the powerplay and in the midst of a line chance. Union is moving the puck around at the top of their own zone when Henry notices Foo waving his stick; he’s behind two of the defenders, and the one who’s in front isn’t in position to take away the massive passing lane.
There’s no defensive help here. Racine is staring down the barrel of a shorthanded 2-on-0, which usually results in…
…a pass to a linemate with chance on a wide-open net. Scarfo’s shot just has to be lifted a bit to avoid Racine’s outstretched pad, and it is.
Union 3 UM 1 19:46 EV Dufour from Taylor & Sakellaropoulos
Union chips the puck out of their zone, and it settles near center ice. Dufour picks it up and carries into Michigan’s zone, where there are defenders waiting for him.
You can see in the screenshot below that Dufour is starting to load up the weight on his inside leg to shoot. There’s a defenseman in front of him, and he’s a half second late reading this. Once he does, though, he pulls his skates together to try and block the shot.
The shot gets through and beats Racine before he can get his glove up. The exasperated backwards snap of his head after the goal went in makes me think he doesn’t place too much blame on the defense for this one.
Union 3 UM 2 01:23 EV Motte (2) from Compher (2)
Compher wins the draw and again gets around the opposing center. The video is grainy enough that I can’t tell whether he feathers a pass to Motte or whether the puck rolls to him off the draw; it’s a non-issue, as Comher’s in position to retrieve and distribute whether he actually did or not.
The play develops so quickly that you’re basically testing the skill of a skater who knows he has the puck on his stick and needs to lift it versus a goaltender who who’s fighting against a schema used to this play going to the corner and suddenly needing to go into his butterfly against a guy who’s a couple feet away. tl;dr: the skater has the upper hand.
Union 3 UM 3 04:57 PPG Selman (1) from Connor (2) & Werenski (2)
Kyle Connor carries through the neutral zone with a ton of speed and gains the zone by himself. He draws the attention of two defenders, but that doesn’t bother him. He lets the puck glide ahead and splits the pair as if it isn’t an insanely difficult thing to execute that requires a great deal of skill and timing.
Connor has Selman in position to receive a netfront pass; he’s fronting his defender. Connor passes off his backhand while the defender engages and turns Selman, but the pass still connects.
About here, at the top of the crease and with a defender trying unsuccessfully to shove him over, is where Selman is able to jam the puck past Sakellaropoulo. Hard to tell from this angle but it would seem that Sakellaropoulo couldn’t close the five hole.
Union 3 UM 4 09:21 EV Marody (2) from Werenski (3)
Marody wins a faceoff cleanly, sweeping the puck back to Werenski (who’s out of the frame) at the point.
Werenski sees a lane open to the side of the net and pulls out one of Nick Lidstrom’s tricks, a shot off the end boards that functions as a pass.
Marody reads the bounce of the puck and stops locking up the defender with his stick, instead swinging it behind and gathering the loose puck.
He could shoot but makes the intelligent play and keeps the puck; the goalie has the nearside post locked down very well.
Instead, Marody uses his momentum (and the goalie’s lack of) to his advantage, skating around the butterflyed netminder and snapping the puck up and over on the far side. Union’s other netfront defenders (this isn’t counting the one who’s been trying to check Marody but can’t) are so preoccupied with making sure there’s no pass available or easy rebound opportunity that they allow Marody to walk around the goalie. Holding and circling in front results in a beautiful goal when it’s executed well, and Marody does it justice.
Union 4 UM 4 10:24 EV Pontarelli from Taylor
Michigan wins a battle along the boards with Nieves digging out the puck. He passes to Selman; everything about the screencap below screams “safe.” Jeff Taylor, however, blows up the pass. Like a zone-ninja defensive back, he reads and breaks on the puck without Selman knowing he’s coming (his back is turned, so that’s fairly excusable).
Taylor slashes at the pass and deflects it. At this point Michael Pontarelli, who was above the faceoff circle and near the wall in the screencap above, has skated into the high slot and without hesitating snaps a shot toward the net.
Cutler Martin’s the lone defender in the slot, and though he tries to block the shot it’s released so quickly he isn’t able to alter it and it’s behind Racine before he can really react.
Union 5 UM 4 14:32 EV Ammirato from Pontarelli & Henry
Union gets the puck deep into the Michigan zone, which pulls M’s forwards and defensemen down as well. This opens up a pass to Henry at the blue line.
Henry uses the Lidstrom trick that Werenski used earlier in the game and puts a shot into the boards that’s effectively a pass that bypasses traffic. Pontarelli picks it up to Racine’s right and somehow gets a pass through the defense to Ammirato, who’s behind him.
Racine butterflys and takes away the nearside, which is reasonable considering he’s got a guy with the puck on his doorstep. The problem is that Ammirato isn’t too deep to shoot farside, and that’s how he beats Racine.
Union 5 UM 5 19:30 EV Selman (1) from Compher (3) & Nieves (1)
Nieves has the puck below the faceoff circle and passes to Compher, who looks at the defender nearest him as if he’s going to take the puck to the net before skating up to the top of the zone. Take a look at the angle of the two highest defenders. The one in the faceoff circle is lower enough relative to the other that Compher decides he has enough room to try and turn toward the slot.
The defender in the faceoff circle recovers enough to deter Compher from actually skating into the slot, but not enough to prevent him from taking a wrister. Also, note that the path to the front of the net is clogged in a good way.
If you’re trying to create a goal with under a minute to go, you can’t ask for much more than two screeners and the defense playing the perimeter or high in the zone. Selman gets his stick parallel to the ice and redirects Compher’s shot past Sakellaropoulo.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
RPI 2, UM 5
RPI 0 UM 1 02:40 EV Warren (1) from Marody (2) & Martin (2)
Michigan has the puck in the offensive zone when Martin decides to put a long shot into the boards. It doesn’t ricochet to a teammate like multiple shots in the Union game did; RPI gathers but Michigan’s forechecking hard and Marody hacks the puck away and regains possession for the Wolverines.
Marody threads a pass to the bottom of the faceoff circle that’s intended for Warren, though Calderone lunges at it as well.
Calerone’s lunge pays off, as it draws the attention of one of the netfront defenders and creates a momentary screen that makes it really tough for Kasdorf to track the puck.
RPI 0 UM 2 00:28 EV Motte (3) from Kile (1)
RPI is attempting a breakout through the neutral zone when Werenski pins his man to the boards, allowing Kile to step in front and steal the puck. He sees Motte turning up the middle of the zone and passes ahead for him.
Motte approaches the offensive zone and walks into what is essentially a wall of defenders. Usually this situation would favor the team with three players clustered together. Usually.
Each of the defenders labeled above has a lane, and their spacing is going to allow Motte to gain zone entry. He splits the first pair of defenders as they converge and is now in a one-on-one matchup with the defender at the top of the faceoff circle. That’s not to say that their spacing is bad; defender #3 is cutting across the zone to make up lost ground, defender #2 is in position to stop Motte, and defender #1 had to worry about the Michigan player near the bench and read him before closing on Motte.
Here’s where Motte begins to fall…
…and here’s where he shoots. He’s somehow able to flick the puck off the end of his blade and get it past the goalie’s outstretched leg pad and inside the farside post.
RPI 1 UM 2 5:03 EV Schroeder from Fulton & Reno
RPI enters Michigan’s defensive zone on a 3-on-2 that’s pretty well defended. Fulton sees that the trailer is open and passes through the slot.
His pass misses and ends up in the corner, where Schroeder rims it around the boards to a wide open Fulton.
Fulon passes to Reno in the (very) high slot. Martin sees the pass and massive amount of open ice and decides to slide as an attempt at blocking the shot. The problem with that can be seen in the screen cap below, when the defender who was supposed to have the middle gets hemmed in by a sprawled-out Martin.
The accidental pick suddenly becomes the death knell of this play. Reno gets the shot through and Nagelvoort gives up a rebound the falls directly in front of him, where Fulton is unchecked. He should have been covered by Martin, who made a valiant effort to stop anything bad from happening and is about to get burned.
Fulton gets a free attempt at jamming the puck in, but Nagelvoort’s in position to stop it. The shot ricochets off his leg pad and to his right, where Schroeder’s in position to finish. Cecconi makes a mistake and seems to be more focused on the jam attempt than the skater behind him, which leads to Schroder having an unimpeded clean-up attempt on an empty net.
RPI 1 UM 3 15:11 EV Calderone (2) from Cecconi (1)
Marody does an excellent job on the forecheck, harassing the skater with the puck until he just bails on it and snaps it off the boards to the top of the zone.
Cecconi’s in perfect position to play it at the blue line. He deftly sweeps the puck back into the zone, connecting with a very open Calderone in the faceoff circle.
Calderone immediately spins and shoots, beating Kasdorf glove-side.
RPI 2 UM 3 12:27 PPG Wood from Liljergen & Prapavessis
RPI is working to cycle the puck low. Warren has just fallen over and is getting back up when Liljergen passes to Wood below the red line.
Liljergen falls as he passes, and as he’s hitting the ice Warren gets tangled up with him and tumbles end over end.
The apparently-not-a-tripping trip leaves Warren decommissioned, and Wood wisely feigns a pass up the boards to freeze the nearest defender, all the while leaving himself a clear path to the front of the net.
He comes in untouched and lifts a shot over Nagelvoort’s shoulder.
RPI 2 UM 4 17:04 EV Warren (2) from Calderone (1) & Marody (3)
Calderone carries the puck up the wall when he has the puck stripped by the defender behind him.
He’s able to recover, but he’s immediately plastered into the boards by the defender who was at the top of the faceoff circle in the screencap above.
He again recovers the puck and circles under the blue line, throwing a shot into traffic in front of the net.
Warren is setting a perfect screen and gets his stick on the puck, redirecting it past a helpless Kasdorf.
RPI 2 UM 5 18:26 EN Motte (4) from Selman (4) & Connor (3)
Motte does a nice job of taking away the passing lane, forcing RPI to attempt a saucer pass over the stick that fails. The puck ends up bouncing to the boards.
Connor picks the puck up off the boards and passes up to Selman, who’s cutting toward the boards and in better position to start a breakout.
Well, he was for a second. Selman ends up getting blown up, but he’s still able to pass ahead for Motte. With no one in front of him, Motte’s able to carry in for an easy empty netter.
Who are these guys? I don’t think we really know yet. There are some striking similarities to the last three years (especially as far as defensive breakdowns are concerned), but I’m not ready to say that I know exactly where the ceiling is for these guys. I think it’s safe to assume this is still a team that’s going to be reliant on outscoring the opposition, but despite the difference in level of competition I think this series was a good example of how muddy the waters are; maybe they’ll win a bunch of games 6-5, maybe they’ll win 4-3.
What is becoming clear is that the Big Ten isn’t even a raging tire fire, it’s more of a pile of leftover ashes from a bonfire with maybe a log or two that could still bear flames. That makes two non-conference series increasingly important to Michigan’s success. Robert Morris comes to town this weekend; they’re ranked ninth (!) in the way-too-early- PairWise and are the fourth team in the “others receiving votes” category in USCHO’s latest poll (so essentially 24th). Looming disconcertingly larger is a road series at the end of November with Boston University; they’re ranked a surprising 24th in PairWise but eight in the USCHO poll. If you’ve been following the program the last few seasons you know why an early season nonconference road series being critical to the success of a season makes me (and probably you) very, very nervous.
This year's team will be deep and somewhat old and oh look Walton and Levert are back so that's not bad. Also: Ricky Doyle as basketball Desmond Morgan.
ACE'S HOCKEY PODCAST
Brief segment in which I say things about the hockey team while Ace looks on grimly.
"Across 110th Street"
"Rebellion (Lies)," Arcade Fire
"Very Much Money (Ice Cream Dream)," Open Mike Eagle
THE USUAL LINKS
- Helpful iTunes subscribe link
- General podcast feed link
- Direct download link
- What's with the theme music?
In Michigan sports that weren't that, Michigan kicked off its hockey season with a shaky sweep of Mercyhurst. The Lakers were .500 in Atlantic Hockey last year and lost five of their top six scorers to graduation. They looked like they were in for a rough year; Michigan dominated attack time and shots. They did not so much dominate on the scoreboard, with one-goal wins Friday and Saturday. (Michigan got an empty-netter Friday.)
Hockey takes in addition to Adam's Goal By Goal:
- Not seeing much difference in the team this year. A lot of individual talent, a lot of breakdowns. Michigan gave up a ton of odd-man rush goals and turned the puck over at or near the blueline far too much. Actual zone entry plays were rare; instead Michigan just tried to gain the zone with individual skill. They'll win their share of games, but I didn't see much that would indicate a turnaround from the last few frustrating years.
- Example of the above. On Sunday Alex Kile was on a 3-on-2 on which he had two guys open and trailing; he chose to try to beat a defenseman around the corner and blasted the goalie for an interference penalty.
- Werenski is up and down and frustrating. He stands out as a super talented even with a bunch of other NHL draft picks on the team. I expect his wrister to pick out a corner every time he gets an opportunity with it. But he was the D caught up ice on Mercyhurst's 2-on-1 goal Sunday and there were several other questionable defensive plays besides. He was iffy on D last year and should by rights be a freshman right now; I don't think that's a reason for long term concern but I was hoping he'd show a little better.
- Nieves is still Nieves. Perimeter player. Not expecting a breakout year. He's centering the "top line" mostly for morale reasons, I think—Compher's line is the actual top line.
- I don't have a feel for Connor yet. Sometimes takes me a while to figure out what I think of a player. Connor is currently in that boat.
- The third line is pretty dang good. It was Calderone, Marody, and Warren. All of them are high effort, physical guys. Calderone had some trouble receiving passes, but other than that those guys dominated their opposite number. Michigan is going to get production out of them against opponents' bottom six.
- Depth: questionable. Michigan skated seven defensemen on Sunday and elected to double-shift centers on the fourth line. I'm fine with this—one of my complaints over the last few years is that Michigan didn't seem to play its stars enough—but if there are injuries Michigan could be really thin at F.
This will be another season flirting with the tourney cutoff. Michigan's awful schedule hurts them significantly here. The Big Ten appears to be a tire fire again. These days RPI overcorrects for home games and Michigan loaded their schedule with them. And their nonconference schedule is mostly crap. I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan is the non-tourney team with the best record in April.
More Big Ten tire fire details. Alarmingly for the league and Michigan's schedule strength, Minnesota is 0-3 and has scored just one goal. Everyone expected the Gophers to take a step back after graduating huge chunks of their team; that much of a retreat is going to be yet another anchor for a league that is already carrying several around.
Meanwhile Wisconsin is coming off a BU/BC weekend in which they were outscored 10-1, OSU has been swept by Miami and BGSU, and Michigan State was just swept by Denver (total goals 7-2). Big Ten teams aren't just losing, they're getting crushed.
Penn State(!) is the only team with anything approximating an encouraging start after a competitive split with Notre Dame. Everything else points to a repeat of last year minus a good Minnesota team. Maybe the Big Ten could spend some of their filthy lucre on hiring non-incompetent hockey coaches next year? Could we try that maybe? MSU and Wisconsin allowing Tom Anastos and Mike Eaves to return is bad for everybody.
Yost things. They have walked back a lot of the in-game commercials this year, so that's nice. IIRC the only thing still around is Find The Object Under The Corporate Logo. That's down from just under a dozen per game last year.
The folks in charge are still a bit off, though. Hockey Special K has limited opportunities to do his thing because of the nature of hockey but he's still jamming in a goal horn—completely unnecessary w/ the bad—and then playing pump-up music before the puck drop. Why Special K insists on playing 5 seconds of music before every kickoff/puck drop is always going to be a mystery.
Also the concession prices remain completely out of whack. When it's more expensive than Joe Louis I'm going to avoid buying things out of principle. I can't imagine the tiny incremental profit increase is worth the psychic damage to hockey fans who are already pretty beat up. I almost dropped my tickets this year because I could probably TiqIq the entire schedule for half of what my seats cost. Like, I decided not to and then two weeks after the deadline I relented.
Yost is not priced at all sensibly, especially when it comes to students. They're down to two sections and an overflow in the endzone, which is super depressing. I know we want the hockey program to break even but surely the atmosphere in the building is more important than X thousand dollars.
Friday, October 16, 2015
Michigan 6, Mercyhurst 4
UM 1 Mercyhurst 0 EV 04:45 Nieves (1) from Connor (1) & Martin (1)
Nick Boka has the puck at the blueline and passes to Cutler Martin after reading his defender, who’s close enough to warrant not shooting. It’s a smart pass; Martin’s defender is moving across and giving him a big cushion. He takes advantage of that, gathering the puck and taking time (maybe even too much time) before firing.
The puck sails into traffic, and if we’re to believe the official score sheet it hits Kyle Connor at some point before reaching the goaltender. The goalie stops it but can’t gather, allowing a plush rebound to his left. The two netfront defenders have pinched in, and you can see from the screen shot that the distance between the nearest defender and Boo Nieves is not great for Mercyhurst.
The goaltender has to make a lateral push that’s basically impossible to do in time to cover; there’s no way he’s locking down the post when he has to go from the middle of the crease to the side. All Nieves has to do is flip a backhander over the goalies shoulder, which isn’t the easiest thing from that sharp an angle. Still, he’s got the necessary space to do so and executes.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]
UM 1 Mercyhurst 1 EV 06:50 Cook (1) unassisted
Martin’s lined up just a hair inside the player with the puck and that makes all the difference. He has given up the inside path, and that allows Cook to swim past and gain the massively open middle of the ice.
This is the moment a decision must be made. Boka’s playing this one as he should; he’s attempting to take away the pass. There’s a bit of room, so it’s possible that a pass could have snuck through but with the momentum from being a step ahead Cook decides to keep it.
This is just a bad goal to give up. Racine sees him coming from a mile away and yet still gets beat. A shot going in from that far away with that much notice is a bit of a red flag. So yeah, it took less than half a period to break out the first red flag of the season. Hooray.
UM 1 Mercyhurst 2 EV 09:13 Lammon (3) from Lancaster (2) & Verboom (1)
Boka’s forced to make a split-second decision on a rapidly developing rush, and I can see why he decided to cover the guy closest to the boards. He has to either stick with No. 27 or step toward the puck carrier, and if he sticks in the middle of the ice that allows the puck carrier a free lane down the wall. He thinks he can get the stick out to disrupt a pass, but the pass gets by him anyway.
Martin has the 2-on-1 rush handled for a moment, but for some reason he draws his stick back in. The puck carrier sees an easy pass across, and the timing is fortunate for him as Boka is just about to get back in the frame and in position to limit the passing opportunity.
This is very close to being a puck that’s knocked off a stick and turned into an opportunity to scramble and chase and basically not skate to the goaltender unimpeded. That puck, though, is not on Lancaster’s stick. Because of that, this turns into a chance to skate to the goaltender unimpeded.
Lancaster carries in and Racine is thinking about sealing the ice with his pads but delays a bit, and that’s when Lancaster pulls a toe drag that’s not really stopped. It hits Racine’s pad, but with his leg up there’s a big gap in the five hole and a loose puck in front.
Naturally Lammon flies in from out of the frame and shoves the puck in. Racine gets the pad down, but his momentum carries him backwards with the puck under his leg, and he slides across the goal line. At this point in the weekend we had no idea how tired we’d be of things in green and white appearing from nowhere and doing the improbable. Ah, to be young and naïve.
UM 2 Mercyhurst 2 SH 16:58 Connor (1)
Boka gets burned by a swim move here, and it looks like it’s time to start grumbling about last year and this year and things are dumb, etc. A sharp-angle shot is deflected, though, and the puck ends up in the faceoff circle.
Connor taps it ahead to himself off of the boards, and there’s nothing but open ice between him and the goaltender.
He dekes forehand-backhand-forehand, and this gets the goaltender to hit the ice. The last move back to the forehand is where Connor releases his shot, and it sails over the goalie’s shoulder and hits the farside top corner.
UM 2 Mercyhurst 3 EV 12:37 Charbonneau from Barach (3) & Cook (6)
Cook sees that he’s about to get plastered by Martin and has the awareness not to chip the puck ahead but to toss it toward the middle of the ice, as he sees he has a trailer who has gained a step on Evan Allen through the neutral zone.
Boka comes over to help because he has to. If Mercyhurst shoots and there’s a rebound Michigan’s in trouble. You can see that the two Michigan defenders are hemmed in the middle and bunched together, while Mercyhurst has a free skater lurking behind.
Instead of shooting Barach takes another stride and dishes across to Charbonneau, the trailer. And you thought my foreshadowing was heavy handed when it wasn’t even foreshadowing at all. What a twist. Charbonneau executes a really nice spin move and just throws the puck to the front of the net, where it hits Boka’s skate and deflects in.
UM 3 Mercyhurst 3 EV 13:31 Calderone (1) from Marody (1) & Warren (1)
Brendan Warren passes to Cooper Marody, who’s about to get hit. The puck deflects up and bounces all over, eventually settling along the boards.
Marody gathers the puck and passes to Tony Calderone, who’s open thanks to the two Mercyhurst defenders converging on Marody and trying to pin him along the boards. Warren, meanwhile, has started to drift toward the front of the net to set up a screen.
Calderone loops into the faceoff circle. The two low defenders come off the wall and head for the front of the net; Warren’s screen is able to keep them out of the play. Two more defenders skate down and try to help but can’t before Calderone spots a perfect shooting lane between Warren and another netfront defender. He releases the puck and beats Wildung, somehow placing the puck inside the defender, outside Wildung, and just inside the farside post.
UM 3 Mercyhurst 4 PPG 17:21 Lancaster (2) unassissted
I can’t find video of this one. C’est la vie.
UM 4 Mercyhurst 4 EV 18:16 Marody (1) from Werenski (1) & Downing (1)
Werenski gathers a puck in the middle of the defensive zone and shovels it ahead for Marody, who starts a solo breakout the other way. Marody gets to the blueline before making his move, turning the puck outside and skating around the defender
Marody shoots, and it’s gloved…sort of. Maybe for a second, but not long enough for a whistle.
At some point and somewhere in that mass of bodies the puck creeps across the goal line. Hockey, man.
UM 5 Mercyhurst 4 EV 02:57 Motte (1) from Compher (1)
JT Compher reads this incredibly well. The Mercyhurst player is off-balance, and the puck is behind him. Compher gets around him and somehow has the awareness to know that if he backhands a pass Tyler Motte will be able to retrieve it with lots of room to operate.
That whole “room to operate” thing was momentary, as Motte has a defender on him quickly. Still, he had time to get toward the center of the ice. With the goalie backed into his net Motte’s improved his chances. He shoots, and the shot flutters toward the net before sneaking in just under the crossbar. Also, nice job by Kile getting to the front of the net. He draws a defender both out of the way of the shot and into the goaltender’s line of sight.
UM 6 Mercyhurst 4 EN 19:44 Connor (2) from Selman (1)
Connor’s puck hawking (I don’t know, I just made it up) on the forecheck creates enough pressure for the Mercyhurst forward to flip the puck back up the boards.
The puck carrier is in way, way deeper than he knows; Selman’s about to strip the puck from his stick when Connor, who’s peeled off his previous check, comes up and just shoves the guy off the puck.
Connor bounces a long, backhanded shot through traffic and into the empty net for what is one of the nicer, more skill-dependent empty netters I’ve ever seen.
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Michigan 3, Mercyhurst 2
UM 1 Mercyhurst 0 EV 17:03 Kile (1) from Downing (2) & Boka (1)
Boka dishes to Downing laterally at the blueline. The defenders are playing off Downing, so he shoots immediately. Wildung makes the initial save, but he allows a rebound.
Kile, who’s been doing a nice job screening, isn’t really even challenged here. He gathers the loose puck and taps it in while the defenders around him hover as if repelled by a force field.
UM 1 Mercyhurst 1 PPG 01:52 Riley from Cook & Barach
Mercyhurst is in the umbrella on the power play, and as expected the move the puck to the point. The point-man shoots, the shot is deflected, he gathers and shoots again. This time the puck makes its way through traffic to Nagelvoort.
Nagelvoort stops the shot but doesn’t corral it; Cook is able to dig it out, and I don’t think he’s making a pass so much as just trying to get possession of the puck when it rolls to the side.
The screenshots make it look like Martin, one of the low defenders, should have made more of an effort to unbunch and take the man at the side of the net but on video it’s such a quickly developing play I can see why he takes a swipe at the puck in an effort to clear instead. The problem is that he misses, and that allows Riley a simple tap in to an empty net.
UM 2 Mercyhurst 1 EV 05:08 Allen (1) from Shuart (1) & Selman (2)
Shuart retrieves a loose puck off the wall and carries in on a 2-on-1. The defender makes a move and tries to…actually, I’m not quite sure. He’s out of position to stop a pass now and he’s also too far away to alter a shot attempt. He makes Shuart’s decision to pass pretty easy; put it a little bit ahead (and under the defender’s stick, which is off the ice for some reason) and Allen has a scoring chance.
Michigan’s in an ideal situation. The pass causes the goaltender to push across, and he’s already in his splits and needing to get his glove hand up when Allen’s ready to shoot. All he has to do is roof the puck to score, and that’s exactly what he does.
UM 2 Mercyhurst 2 EV 11:03 Charbonneau from Best & Wu
Mercyhurst enters the Michigan zone on a 2-on-1, albeit one in which the trailer is so far behind he doesn’t really factor in until later; you could justifiably call this a 1-on-1. Martin is the lone defender back, and he sees that the pass isn’t going to be there. He attempts to slide to take away the shot, but he doesn’t get there in time.
You can see in the screen cap below that Martin’s slide doesn’t influence the shot, which Nagelvoort stops for a second. He can’t hold onto the rebound, however, and the puck that was practically on his chest protector bounces away.
I mean, you know what’s going to happen. The spoiler’s in the title of the post. That’s a massive amount of space for Nagelvoort to cover with a guy charging and wielding a stick ready to thunderously whack the puck in. To Nagelvoort’s credit he does sprawl and take away the bottom of the net, but Charbonneau lifts it up and over.
UM 3 Mercyhurst 2 EV 15:51 Connor (3) from Selman (2) & Werenski (3)
Selman has the puck in the neutral zone near center ice when he puts a perfect pass through the zone of Connor on the opposite wing.
Connor draws the nearest defender to him; that defender is the guy in the middle of the ice in the screen cap above. He’s working from a bad position, and he’s gliding for a moment. That’s enough time for Connor to gain the zone and set up his shot at full speed.
This is why people sometimes make a big deal out of a defenseman’s handedness. Mercyhurst’s D is at a disadvantage from the start because is he’s going to alter Connor’s path or shot he needs to swing his stick around (that’s what the dotted line below represents). However, he’s unable to do that before Connor can unload his shot.
This shot beat the goaltender cleanly from the middle of the faceoff circle. I be like dang.
Mercyhurst is pretty good. They’re currently 23rd in the way-too-early-but-I’m-gonna-mention-it-anyway PairWise and RPI; Michigan is 15th in both.
That doesn’t excuse shaky goaltending. I thought Racine looked worse than Nagelvoort. Still, I don’t think this is a competition that’s settled anytime soon. We could be in for a replica of the last two years.
Kyle Connor is pretty, pretty good. I’m not going to make the comparison yet but a few more weeks of that and maybe it’s fair to say we replaced our Larkin with another Larkin dang couldn’t make it to the end of the sentence without mentioning him.
Hey, maybe playing desperate is a good thing. Red said after Sunday’s win that he liked his team when they play desperate, and that they did that and were able to lock down defensively in the third. I, too, like when Michigan plays desperately and in fact have been waiting for that for like three years. That’s the reason I’m not going to make 2014 comparisons, even though Friday felt like that. Sunday’s win was enough to make me think that maybe Friday was a team still ironing things out in the early season and not a repeat of the unit that could score and not defend.
at least there's still bubble hockey? [Bill Rapai]
I don't know if there was anything Jim Hackett could have done about this in the short time he's been athletic director, but man, for the second straight year the hockey schedule is deeply unappealing to me as a season-ticket holder. Worse, it doesn't set Michigan up well for an attempt to make the tourney in Red Berenson's final year. Let's run down the problems.
The nonconference schedule sucks
Here's the nonconference schedule, with last year's RPI out of 59 in parentheses after. Home games bolded.
- Mercyhurst x 2 (39)
- @ Union (30)
- @ RPI (46)
- Robert Morris x 2 (25)
- Niagara (58)
- @ BU x 2 (3)
- Dartmouth x 2 (22)
- NMU (GLI) (35)
- Tech or State (GLI) (8 or 32)
- Ferris State (34)
The best nonconference home game is none. The only team that made the tournament last year (other than Tech, which is in the GLI with Michigan every year) is BU. BU has been thoroughly mediocre for the past five years when Jack Eichel wasn't around. He and his +51(!!!) are no longer around.
The opponents aren't even interesting from a historical standpoint: other than Ferris State and NMU in the GLI, none of these teams are old CCHA teams. They are just random Eastern teams that aren't good and want a paycheck.
This is especially grim because the Big Ten was so bad last year. In a tough, or even reasonable, league a 22-15 record is a good shot at the tournament. Michigan had none because the Big Ten was a disaster. Even if the league gets off the mat somewhat this year (doubtful since MSU and Wisconsin both inexplicably retained their coaches), Michigan is going to need some help from a solid nonconference schedule. This is emphatically not it.
And that goes double since the home/road split is 9/5. The current iteration of the RPI irrationally overrates road wins and irrationally underrates home wins, so any team that is willing to scrimp for guarantee games like Michigan clearly has is putting itself even further behind an already rather large eight ball.
There are infinite football conflicts
It's like this was intentional:
- There are only four road games before the Christmas break.
- Two of them come during football's bye week.
- One of the Robert Morris games is on October 31st. Michigan plays Minnesota that day. That game has already been announced for 8 PM.
- There is a home game on the day of a home OSU game that's at least 50/50 to be at 3:30.
- In the unlikely event Michigan makes the Big Ten Championship game, there is a home game against Wisconsin probably at the same time.
I understand that some conflicts are inevitable. This is close to maximum hypothetical conflict. Michigan has scheduled games that no Michigan fan is going to want to attend that hurt their chances to make the tournament.
There are way too many games early and way too few late
As mentioned, the season ticket has 12 of its games before the break and just 7 after, one of which is the NTDP exhibition. There is another month-long gap between home games. (At least this time it's not because Michigan sold a game against MSU so Chicago could ignore it.)
- And Michigan inserted the Ferris game into a weird mid-February bye week. They go six weeks(!) between home league games, from Ohio State on January 17th to Ohio State on March 4th.
There are still no playoffs
Maybe I'll fly to Minneapolis, though. It could happen.
The extra slot. Max Bielfeldt could return next year if Michigan was so inclined. It does not sound like they are rushing to make this happen, though. Bielfeldt:
"I don't even know," the 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward said. "I've just been looking to see what else is out there. If this (situation did come up), I knew I'd have to take it for what it is. If I end up making a decision here in the next week or so and nothing pops up Michigan-wise, then I'll move on.
"(I haven't talked with Beilein about it) since the scholarship opened up."
It might be hard to kiss and make up here with Bielfeldt fielding serious interest from multiple Big 12 schools.
Harbaugh profilin'. Bruce Feldman on the man in khaki:
Most coaches will say they are much better at their jobs than they were a decade ago thanks to experience, but Harbaugh isn't most coaches. "I don't know that I am (a better coach)," he said. "Even though you've proved something before, that's the very nature of football playing or coaching. You could have proved something 1,000 times before. You could prove it again, but now that's all that matters.
"It's irrelevant no matter how many times you prove something. This is the only time that matters."
Well worth a read.
That this is a hard decision is a bad thing. Dylan Larkin is playing at the World Championships for the USA, an impressive accomplishment for any college player. He is still considering signing with the Wings. That would be far from unprecedented, except for the fact that his pro team doesn't seem to be pressing for it at all:
Should Larkin sign with Detroit, he would most likely spend the season in the AHL with Grand Rapids, a team that has consistently been successful recently under the stewardship of coach Jeff Blashill. …
From what I’ve been told, the Red Wings would be happy with Larkin’s decision either way. If he returns to Michigan, he gets to play that big role on a young team (the team had a dearth of juniors this season, so there will only be a handful of seniors next year) and he can learn from mistakes now rather than in a couple years when he’s in the NHL.
If Larkin signs when the Wings are saying "you will play in the AHL"—something they no doubt mean given the guys they've left in Grand Rapids well after they've ripened—that is a devastating commentary on the current state of the program.
Unfortunately, I don't think I would be at all surprised by that. Mike Spath is without question the most plugged-in hockey reporter Michigan has, and when Andrew Copp left he talked to various people in the program and came back with this:
A motivation for Andrew Copp to leave? Apparently his dad didn't like that Copp wasn't the leading scorer the past two seasons and blamed this on Michigan's failure to develop him to be the first-line center he was destined to be.
This is what society has become. Every parent thinks their kid is the next Crosby. Winnipeg apparently told the family he could one day lead their team in points. I like Andrew a lot but that is a crock.
There is only one person who would say this to Spath: Red Berenson. Spath probably should have kept that one under his hat, because it drew a response from Copp's father in which he made it clear that assertions about his character were way off base. A small portion:
Michael it is disappointing that as you have gotten to know Andrew over the last 3 years you should have a gut feeling about how he is as a person. Much has been made about it in the press and by the coaches over the years. Andrew is a very mature young man with character, conviction, and morals. I can tell you that Andrew made the decision to leave completely on his own. We do not parent like micro-managers, we have always raised our two boys to be independent and we support the decisions that they do make. Andrew consulted with our family during the process but never once asked our opinion on what he should do with his life nor did we give it, that is HIS decision. To be honest I don’t know what I would have said, I would have loved to see him play his senior year, see him a couple times a week and every Sunday for family dinner. As a parent you hope you provide your kids with the life skills to make difficult decisions and I am proud of how Andrew has navigated this process.
Red has always been lovably cantankerous about his players leaving before their time. This goes several steps beyond that. Copp was not mentioned at the post-season banquet. When bitterness gets that prominent it starts to seem like a reason for the team's recent underperformance.
Red is going to be back next year, and then he is likely to retire. I'm not particularly optimistic about that final year. That Copp would leave probably doesn't say much about Copp.
For Larkin's part, here's Larkin:
"Not 100 percent," Larkin told The Windsor Star when asked if he's made a decision. "I'm still in between and weighing the options. I wanted to wait until after the tournament to make a decision.
"I'll probably take some time. I mean, I'm not in a rush. The seasons are over. There's really no rush. I really feel like there's not a wrong choice or a bad option. Either way I'm still going to be playing hockey and doing what I love.
"We'll see what's best for me."
I have a bad feel. NCAA muckety-mucks are complaining about the graduate transfer rule, because obviously. They do not have great reasons to do so:
"I don't think it fits the core values of intercollegiate athletics," said Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson.
When asked for specifics on the conflict with core values, Benson said, "It just doesn't feel right."
The core values of intercollegiate athletics are what exactly? If it's about getting an education, these players have already acquired bachelors' degrees. If it's about a level playing field, that ship sailed, sunk, and turned into barnacles a long time ago. If it's about catering to coaches' whims… we should probably have more timeouts in basketball.
Pat Forde says that if the NCAA is actually concerned about their core values they'd look at the scourge of recruits reclassifying. It's not clear that such a thing is at all common—most kids who reclassify are in fact forgoing a prep year, not accelerating. And the ones who do always have the option of, like, not doing so. It's hard to see what the harm is there. Forde's attempt to conjure one is unconvincing:
A senior year of high school is among the priceless commodities in life. I hope giving that away in part because some coach needs you now is a good decision for Thornton. It certainly seems to be one more example of the coach controlling the athlete more than vice versa.
High school is nice and all but if you told me I could go to prom or start at point guard for Duke I think I might take the latter. Thornton could still pick any school he wants as a class of 2016 player; that Duke presented him with an option he found attractive is not a problem.
Then there are the academic questions. By all accounts, Thornton is a bright young man and he may have been planning his class load with this accelerated graduation in mind. But will he be ready – early – for the classroom challenge at Duke? It's not exactly like going to UNLV.
It is. It is exactly like going to UNLV because every school has easy classes for people not interested in requirement X. I was in some at Michigan. Forde probably doesn't know that college hockey was well ahead of the curve here, with three top-ten NHL picks (Zach Werenski, Noah Hanifin, and Hobey winner Jack Eichel) arriving after accelerating their studies. It seems likely that both Werenski and Hanifin will be back at their respective schools next year, which they could only do if they were coping academically.
Increased flexibility for players is generally a good thing. Let them accelerate cake and graduate transfer cake.
Don't mind if I schadenfreude, thanks. EDSBS's ERASE THIS GAME series strikes upon the USF-Notre Dame game that caused Brian Kelly to turn into Yosemite Sam. Notre Dame's next game was this one:
If you could get in the college football hall of fame for making fanbases other than your own happy, Rees would be a holy lock.
Now when is #M00N happening EDSBS? For pants' sake.
Scouting centers. Brendan Quinn on Austin Davis and Jon Teske:
Davis: While quiet in-person, he's not shy on the floor.
Davis is aggressive with the ball, while remaining steady and methodical, refusing to rush. He knows how to work offensively on the low blocks, utilizing good hands and a soft touch. Most importantly, Davis looks to score the ball. Points to just come to him -- he shows himself well on post-ups and gets his own points.
Teske: The shot-blocking ability is abundantly apparent. Teske is a natural with instinctual patience and timing. He's does well to go up and block shots in the air instead of lunging to get shots at the point of release. That defensive prowess translates to his movements and awareness on that end of the floor. Teske seems to anticipate without guessing, and looks to make defensive plays without leaving himself susceptible to mistakes.
Interesting that MLive is getting more into the scouting/video stuff for recruits. Davis got a bump to four stars on 247, BTW. It looks like there is going to be a severe difference of opinion between the sites on him. Brian Snow has made it clear that Scout is not going to follow suit.
Etc.: Tyus Battle will visit officially tomorrow; Duke has taken a big lead in the Crystal Ball, and this one doesn't seem like guesswork. Remember when a playoff was going to kill the bowls? Speaking of coach catering. On 2016 combo guard Bruce Brown.