alternate headline: man does job
mgoblog, hockey edition
Boston College 1 UM 0 EV 05:44 Doherty from Gilmour and Tuch
Teddy Doherty carries into BC’s offensive zone, and as he does this he starts to look to his right. Downing is back to defend and reads the tilt of Doherty’s head; he’s thinking pass and wants to take that away.
The thing is Doherty’s looking at no one. There’s not a BC teammate there for him to pass to, so he’s either going to shoot, turn it back and walk up the boards, or take it behind the net. You can see in the screencap that he’s going to shoot it. He’s loading up his shot, and Nagelvoort has a clear read on it.
Sometimes you lose a one-on-one battle. Sometimes a forward loses it along the boards. Sometimes a defenseman loses it in the neutral zone. Sometimes a goaltender loses it against a shooter. They all can be dangerous, but has as immediate an aftermath as a goaltender losing to a shooter. Nagelvoort butterflies and Doherty puts his shot in the perfect spot; it hits the top corner over the nearside shoulder.
It looks like this is Nagelvoort’s fault. In a way, it is. At the same time, he’s the last line of defense in what should be just that: a line. Downing is concerned with a backdoor cutter and plays the pass, which is textbook. The issue is that there isn’t a guy cutting that way. If he steps up to take Doherty he may not be able to put a body on him in time, but he takes away space from Doherty that he really shouldn’t have. Maybe this causes Doherty to choose one of the aforementioned options (skating it back up the boards or behind the net). My point is that a goal given up is not often solely one person’s fault, and there’s more than meets the eye here.
Boston College 2 UM 0 EV 07:42 McCoshen from Spiro and Gaudreau
Downing manages to pin Spiro along the boards, which is good. He manages to get a pass off into the slot, which is decidedly less good. Nothing terribl3 is necessarily going to come from this, but when you pin a guy along the boards the hope is that you tie the puck up along with it.
Passes in hockey are fast. You’re smart. You already knew that. It’s not completely unusual for a TV camera to snap forwards or backwards to keep up with the play, and that’s what happens here. One thing I’ve learned, though, is that you are in a world of trouble when the camera doesn’t have time to focus before the shot is off. That’s what happens here. Oy.
That screen cap looks worse than it is (maybe). There’s a strategy that teams use where the defense collapses around the goaltender, with the idea being that you’ll be able to pick up netfront opposition and clear the puck if there are rebounds. The downside to that strategy is this: a guy gets an undisturbed shot attempt that the goaltender can’t get a good read on, whether it’s because he’s being screened (see below) or whether he just can’t adjust quickly.
[After THE JUMP: I screencapped something that looks like hyperspace so that might be worth your time]
Boston College 3 UM 0 EV 14:03 Straight from Matheson and Tuch
Straight takes a pass that goes from near the blue line to the left faceoff circle. You can see Werenski and another Michigan defender bunched up in front of Nagelvoort. There’s no need to doubleteam the screener here (or ever, really). Werenski should be over where I have the blue arrow pointing so that he can step up or try to block a shot or try to do something, anything to Straight.
NO NO NO NOT THE UNFOCUSED CAMERA IT LOOKS LIKE HYPERSPACE SOMEONE MAKE IT STOP
Boston College 3 UM 1 PPG 03:38 Larkin (3) from Nieves (8) and Nagelvoort (2)
I have no video of this, but it happened. They were given six opportunities, and this was the only goal Michigan was able to score with the man advantage. The only video I was able to find from this weekend came from Boston College’s official site, and it’s the strangest highlight film I’ve seen. They didn’t include Michigan’s goal, but they did put in most of Michigan’s quality scoring opportunities. This is either good-job-good-effort level accidental trolling or somebody in their athletic department had a really good time making a passive-aggressive highlight film.
Boston College 4 UM 1 EV 12:51 Smith from Sit and Calnan
Smith skates in unimpeded, though Downing and Selman are nearby. They’re both trying to get close enough to make a play on either Smith or the puck, but neither can get there before he decides to shoot. The red box in the screencap just shows how much open ice there is in front of him. The logical choice for him is to shoot, because if he doesn’t Selman will be able to check him. His only other option is to dump the puck into the corner, but that’s less effective than just putting it on net.
The puck hits Nagelvoort’s shoulder and bounces over it and in, which…/heavy sigh. These kind of goals kill me. It’s hard to critique much (aside from what I noted above) because Nagelvoort was there and he stopped it and it took a strange bounce. That’s about it.
Boston College 5 UM 1 EN 18:43 Smith from Calnan and Matheson
Werenski thinks Smith is going to skate it in along the boards, but Smith pulls the puck across from his backhand to his forehand while Werenski’s back is turned. It’s a split-second decision, but Weresnki turning his back allows Smith to pull the puck across. If Werenski skates in backwards this likely doesn’t happen because Smith would have to pull the puck across an area where Werenski can easily poke check it away.
Werenski dives but can’t get his stick out in time to stop Smith’s empty-net chip shot.
If you believe in karma balancing things out then I guess this was the return to the neutral state after the move into the positive that the Ohio State game provided. The final score was not entirely reflective of the game, but it’s all that matters. Michigan outshot BC 42-29, hit multiple posts (especially in the first period), and had six power play opportunities to BC’s three. The last goal was an empty netter, though the marginal pride of a three-goal loss instead of a four-goal loss is pretty slim.
The simple fact is that Michigan has been terrible away from Yost. I tend to ignore things like home and road records because I think they’re typically more narrative-driven than fact-driven, but at this point I think it’s worth delving into a little more. A 7-2-0 home record and a 1-5-0 road record makes Michigan appear to be a Jekyll and Hyde team; let’s see if the stats bear that out.
Michigan’s third in the nation in scoring at 3.87 goals scored/game. They’re 42nd in the nation in scoring defense at 3.07 goals allowed/game, so there’s a problem right off the bat. On the whole, Michigan has scored 12 more times than their opponents this season.
Things change when looking only at Michigan’s home games. They’re scoring 4.56 goals/game at Yost, good for first in the nation. They’re allowing 2.22 goals/game (23rd nationally) at home, a respectable and palatable number.
Michigan’s road game stats are about as miserable as you’d expect; 2.83 goals/game (25th nationally) scored and 4.33 goals/game (56th out of 59 teams in the country!) allowed. Something stinks and for once it’s not my four-month-old.
The rest of this is already difficult enough to digest, so let’s make it a little easier by putting it into a table. National rank is in parentheses:
|Power play %||23.5 (15)||14.8 (35)|
|Power play attempts||34 (21)||27 (34)|
|Penalty kill %||84.8 (28)||77.3 (49)|
|Penalty kill attempts||33 (22)||22 (47)|
|Shots on goal for/game||36.0 (9)||35.67 (2)|
|Shots on goal against/game||28.11 (27)||31.33 (35)|
|Faceoff win %||58.2 (6)||54.2 (4)|
|Blocked shots||141 (5)||75 (44)|
Michigan’s worse across the board when they’re on the road, with the exception of shots on goal for (they’re still technically getting more shots at home despite the lower national ranking). They’re allowing more shots against when they’re on the road, so even that’s sort of a Pyrrhic victory. There’s no easy explanation for this; the easy explanation is that Michigan’s worse on the road. Why they’re worse is a matter of debate.
What I can tell you from the watching them and using the eye test (/shudders) is that I don’t see one smoking gun. As a whole Michigan likes to take shots that are from the perimeter of the offensive zone, and you’re not likely to generate offense off of those. They fell victim to this over and over again at BC. It’s just not a good idea to try and beat goaltenders one-on-one all day; scoring comes off of screened shots and rebounds. Michigan did this well against Ohio State, and not just during their power-play-a-palooza portion of the game.
Going forward, Michigan’s going to have a very difficult (though, mercifully, neutral site) game against Mel Pearson’s Michigan Tech team in the first round of the Great Lakes Invitational. After that they’ll face either Michigan State or Ferris State before an early January home series against Minnesota, who sits 11th in the PairWise and RPI. On a macro level, Michigan needs to beat Michigan Tech (sixth in PariWise and RPI) and at least split the series against Minnesota to climb toward tournament contention. On a micro level, odd-man rushes against an an inability to cycle in the offensive zone continue to be an issue. If Michigan wants to avoid missing the tourney for a third straight year they’re going to have to take advantage of the neutral site and home opportunities they have over the next month.
Michigan 0 OSU 1 EV 10:09 Johnson from Niddery and Stork
Ohio State catches Michigan in transition. Niddery has the puck in the neutral zone and banks it off the boards. Serville is too slow stabbing at it, and the puck gets past him to Johnson. Downing is the lone defenseman back who can make a play.
You can see from the above screencap that Johnson skates the puck out as wide as possible. He’s trying to draw Downing to him and open up space in front of the net because he sees he has a trailing teammate charging the net hard. Downing doesn’t bite, or at least he doesn’t bite entirely. He starts to dive to take away the pass.
Regardless of what happens with this shot Michigan’s not in a good position. It just so happens that the shot it perfect, so the danger of a rebound or a redirection in front is moot. This is obviously a bad goal for Nagelvoort to give up from that sharp of an angle, but he made some otherwise spectacular saves in the first period. Johnson’s shot hits the farside post and deflects up and in for the goal.
Michigan 1 OSU 1 EV 12:49 Hyman (7) from Larkin (11) and Serville (2)
Larkin carries the puck wide, and the defenseman picks him up and moves wide with him. Behind Larkin Hyman skates toward the middle of the ice, giving Larkin someone to center the puck to if the defender over-commits.
Larkin skates just a couple more strides before he drop passes to Hyman. Larkin actually could have held the puck a few more strides, as the defender is still in a position to make a play on the puck. Hyman makes a smart play, seeing that the defender is near enough to him that he’ll have to release the puck immediately to avoid the defender’s stick. You can see from the screencap below that he’s already loading up to shoot, and the puck’s been on his blade for a fraction of a second.
Frye stops Hyman’s shot, but he is unable to glove the puck or absorb the shot. The puck is deflected and goes up and over him.
Larkin has continued his skating arc from the outside of the zone to the inside, and he’s at the side of the net by the time the puck goes up in the air. His positioning pays off, as he bats down the deflection for Michigan’s first goal.
[After THE JUMP: a five-minute-long Christmas miracle]
Michigan 2 OSU 1 EV 19:48 Werenski (3) from Nieves (7) and Compher (8)
Compher wins an offensive-zone faceoff and the puck trickles back directly to Werenski. He has a lot of open space, a tangled mess of forwards in front of him, and a second to shoot before a defender will be in the vicinity.
Werenski’s first thought is to shoot because of the situation he sees in front of him, and it’s not a bad decision. He could alternatively pass to Downing at the point and likely create a scoring chance as good or better. Shuart has moved into the slot, and it’s hard to tell from the video but I think he and the OSU players near him obstruct Frye’s view such that he never sees Werenski’s shot.
Michigan 3 OSU 1 EV 04:17 Lynch (4) from Motte (6) and Serville (3)
Motte sees that there are two defensemen ahead of him and two behind the play, which means he has a pass he can make across to the trailing Lynch with little risk involved. The circled defender is going to end up in a one-on-one matchup with Lynch.
Lynch skates into the faceoff circle and shoots. It’s not the best time or place to shoot, and the defender easily blocks the shot. That’s when Lynch gets lucky. Like, Denard-fumbles-and-recovers-his-own-fumble-and-scores lucky. The momentum of the three OSU players and the one M player is carrying them to the left of the goaltender. Lynch picks the puck back up and moves toward the slot.
Look at the goaltender’s legs. He’s still in his butterfly from Lynch’s first shot attempt while Lynch is preparing to launch a backhanded shot. He shuffles to try and square up with Lynch, and though he does accomplish this it also opens up a space over his left shoulder along the nearside post; that space is where Lynch’s backhander ends up.
Michigan 4 OSU 1 PPG 06:39 Copp (6) from Downing (4) and Motte (7)
Downing’s shot from the point (an aside: Downing is a fit for the point because of his puck skills. I like this so much better than last year’s arrangement with Clare at the point) deflects off of the end boards, bouncing to the side of the net…
…where Copp is in perfect position to put it in top-shelf. Downing shot this puck with the intent of having Shuart, who has gone across the slot and is now on the goaltender’s right, tip it. Even though he didn’t mean for the puck to go off of the boards this can be an effective shot for the very reason we see here; Nick Lidstrom used to miss intentionally all the time in order to use Joe Louis Arena’s notoriously bouncy end boards.
Michigan 4 OSU 2 EV 07:45 Schilkey from Angeli and Oddo
Werenski skates it into the offensive zone and passes to Hyman, but Hyman can’t hold on and turns the puck over near the blue line. Ohio State picks it up and has a 2-on-0 break the other way.
To his credit Hyman tries to get back and backcheck, but he can’t make up enough ground to make a difference. Nagelvoort comes way out of his crease to challenge as Angeli passes to Shilkey.
Schilkey fakes a move to the forehand and Nagelvoort bites on it. He puts his right leg pad down and starts to get his glove up and left leg pad out when Schilkey pulls the puck to his backhand.
Once Nagelvoort’s committed to the forehand there’s no way he can recover; he simply doesn’t have enough time. Schilkey deserves credit here because he waited until he was in very tight before making his move. Nagelvoort putting the right leg pad down doesn’t eliminate his ability to push across laterally, but it takes more time than he has. To put it simply, he got beat.
Michigan 5 OSU 2 PPG 11:44 Copp (7) from Shuart (7) and Motte (8)
The next three goals are part of a five-minute power play that Michigan was on because Ohio State’s Nick Oddo got tossed for head butting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player tossed for head butting, but sometimes I guess the only swift kick in the butt your power play needs is for someone to get tossed for head butting.
I’m sorry, if you’ve read this far I really shouldn’t subject you to jokes that bad. Moving on, Michigan’s puck movement over the next five minutes is about as good as I’ve seen it all year. Motte receives a pass and instantaneously redirects it to the front of the net with a pretty touch pass.
Shuart squares himself to the goalie and hesitates just long enough to make it look like he’s going to shoot, but he instead decides to circle back behind the net. His hesitation is enough to get the goalie to drop into his butterfly.
Shuart sees Copp at the bottom of the faceoff circle and moves it to him. OSU’s goaltender decided to get up instead of pushing across the crease and, uh, maybe that wasn’t the best idea. Look at Copp and whether or not he’s in position to shoot (spoiler: he is). Look at the goaltender and the position that he’s in. Guess how this ends.
Copp one-times it, banking it in off the farside post. A bank shot is the best you can hope for from that extreme an angle, and it happens to work here.
Michigan 6 OSU 2 PPG 14:39 Kile (8) from Larkin (12) and Werenski (9)
Michigan is using the umbrella formation here, while Ohio State is…well, one guy’s playing chase near the point, two are in line, and one is to the side. Werenski passes to Larkin above the faceoff circle, and the only guy who tries to defend him is the aforementioned playing-chase-up-high guy.
Larkin sees that Ohio State’s defense is collapsing on Kile but no one’s actually in position to check him. Hyman’s screening the goaltender, and Larkin’s pass is hard enough that Kile just shovels it toward the goal. The goaltender never sees it. I’d include another screencap but it’d just be three Michigan players raising their arms in celebration and one Ohio State defender falling over himself.
Michigan 7 OSU 2 PPG 16:14 Kile (9) from Larkin (13) and Werenski (10)
Michigan’s in the same umbrella formation that they were a moment ago with the same personnel. The puck is swung from Werenski at the point to Larkin. Also, thanks to the BTN’s beloved super zoom for making it easy to see the spacing on this play.
Larkin takes about two strides forward before he passes to Kile in the slot. Kile tips it an the shot is stopped, but there’s a rebound right in front of the goalie.
Kile lifts it and easily scores his second power play goal of the game.
Michigan 8 OSU 2 EV 01:11 Calderone (2) from Motte (9) and Serville (4)
Michigan gets the puck in their defensive zone and skates it through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. It looks like 2-on-2 rush, except it’s not. Calderone is split out wide and nobody seems to notice. Nobody on Ohio State, at least.
Motte’s centering pass actually isn’t intended for Calderone; it’s deflected. It ends giving Calderone a one-on-one opportunity.
Calderone has two places he can shoot; the goaltender opens his butterfly too much and the five hole is there, as is room in the top corner over his shoulder. Calderone picks the top corner and scores.
Michigan 8 OSU 3 EV 05:04 Greco from Moser
Ohio State has just entered the offensive zone and Greco puts a shot on net that barely has a prayer. Until it goes in. This is just a bad goal for Racine (who has replaced Nagelvoort for the third period) to give up.
The one caveat that may apply if you look at the above screencap is that Racine is potentially being screened here. Still, if Racine is a bit further to his right he doesn’t let this one by him, so there are some positional issues to address as well.
Power play: extant
Ohio State’s killing 78.4% of penalties, so they aren’t exactly the best penalty killing unit Michigan’s going to face this year so expectations should be tempered; add in a five-minute power play and the numbers end up a bit skewed. Still, it’s still good to see Michigan actually do something when their power play had previously scored on only seven of their 51 man advantages.
The defensive zone
Let’s move it out of there, please. Michigan remains slow to get the puck out of their end and liable to turn it over. Their passing was better offensively and on the power play, and I’d like to see this translate to the defensive zone as well. Some guys could also benefit from just moving their feet and trying to skate it out instead of passing around. Basically, pass when there’s a clear pass there, but don’t force things; if there’s nothing there just skate.
Overall, this is a very talented team offensively. It is also a team that’s prone to turnovers and coverage lapses that lead to odd-man opportunities. The odd-man rushes were still a problem in this game, though the score doesn’t show it. As I mentioned above, the power play looked better but whether that was just doing what you’re supposed to against a not-very-good team or actual progress remains to be seen. I’m feeling fairly bullish about this team if only because I think the issues that are still present are correctable.
Hey. How are you? Been a while, huh? If you’ve never read one of these before, the purpose of this post is to break down every goal of each Wolverine hockey game. Reading left to right, there’s the score followed by whether the goal was at even strength or on the power play. After that there’s the time of the goal and the players awarded points on the play. In parentheses is their season point total.
Michigan swept RPI last weekend, and though they still have a lot of things to work on defensively a number of guys who have offensive upside finally turned upside into production. Long story short: a Michigan team not coached by John Beilein had a good weekend. Let’s enjoy that.
Friday, November 28
UM 1 RPI O EV 15:55 Kile (6) from Larkin (9) and Hyman (8)
Hyman carries the puck up the boards. Kile moves laterally from left to right, and eventually peels off his defender to head toward the net. The defender at the top of the circle does a nice job of taking away the passing lane to Kile, but taking away one passing lane opens up another (highlighted through the faceoff circle).
Being able to draw a line through three of your five defenders means someone is blitheringly wide open. Oh, look. Alex Kile is blitheringly wide open. Larkin has the puck in front of the net thanks to the passing lane created in the first screen shot. All he has to do is find a way to thread it through the mass of defenders to Kile.
Which he does perfectly. You can see that the goalie has to sprawl out to his left to try and get anything on the puck. This is because Larkin was so close to the crease that not only did he have to stay square to him but he had to hit the ice and go into his butterfly to take away the five hole. It takes extra time to move across the crease once you’ve hit the ice, and the goalie can’t recover in time to stop Kile’s shot.
[After THE JUMP: We got moooooooore goals]
UM 1 RPI 1 PPG 8:45 Bubela from Laliberte and Bourbonnais
Serville decides that Downing isn’t going to get down-ice fast enough to take away the guy with the puck, so he essentially treats this like a 2-on-1 and tries to take away the pass. The problem is that he comes off of his defender to do so, which leaves a guy wide open behind him when Nagelvoort already has to concern himself with locking down the post. Serville could have eliminated the pass by sticking with his man, and by dropping down the ice he’s in no man’s land with a problem looming behind.
Shuart has to come down and take the open man. Serville (circled) has blown a tire and is temporarily out of the play entirely. Downing has picked up the other RPI player in front of the net, but without being positioned in front of his man there’s not much he can do.
Nagelvoort stops two shots, but he gives up a rebound each time and eventually Bubela puts it past him from the scrum in front, where Shuart was unable to get in front of Bubela and also couldn’t lift his stick. You pretty much expect to get scored on when the opposition gets three or more chances directly in front of the net.
UM 1 RPI 2 EV 6:17 Bourbonnais from Melanson
Travis Lynch tries to play this right. He really does. He sees Melanson carrying the puck into Michigan’s zone and steps up to try and put a body on him. Melanson, however, backhands the puck off of the boards, goes under Lynch’s hit, and picks up the puck on the other side.
Melanson carries it in along the boards. He notices that he has a teammate with inside positioning on his defender in front of the net. He puts a long shot on goal, I believe in hopes that a rebound would come out front for Bourbonnais (circled) to clean up.
Bourbonnais is in the right place at the right, extending his stick to redirect the puck. It gets past Nagelvoort but just barely, trickling past the goal line before it can be swept out of the crease.
UM 2 RPI 2 EV 16:58 Motte (5) from Calderone (2) and Downing (2)
Motte carries this one from the defensive zone through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. He fakes forehand and moves the puck to his backhand, the fake effectively freezing the defenseman just long enough to give him space to continue carrying the puck to the net.
Motte doesn’t have a pass to Calderone because the RPI defender has played that well positionally. Instead he pulls the puck to his forehand, shoots, and scores. Sometimes a guy just beats a goaltender, and that’s what happened here.
UM 3 RPI 2 EV 17:27 Hyman (6) from Larkin (10) and Downing (3)
Larkin picks up the puck along the boards in the neutral zone and tears into the offensive zone. He’s so fast and such a good skater I’m tempted to make a Denard reference. I basically just did. Hmm. Stream of consciousness: not the most discreet writing method. Anyway, Larkin and Hyman cross and the defenseman is bamboozled.
The defenseman decides to take Larkin, which opens up a gaping swath of ice for Hyman to work with as Larkin dishes across to him.
Hyman shoots a split second after this frame, and the puck hits the goalie’s side and goes flops in. The solid lines in the above screencap represent what the goalie’s squared to (and it’s not Hyman). The dashed lines represent how his shoulders would be positioned if he was square to the shooter. There’s a flaw in the goalie’s positioning here as he’s over-rotated, and that’s what allows the puck to sneak past for the game winner.
Saturday, November 30
UM 1 RPI 0 EV 7:53 Lohan (2) from Calderone (3) and Motte (3)
Michigan forechecks hard and gains possession of the puck behind the net. Motte passes to Calderone in front of the net, but his initial shot is stopped. A wild rebound appears…
Lohan gathers the rebound and has a one-on-one opportunity in front of the crease. With as much of the upper portion of the net available as I’ve highlighted you’d expect Lohan to shoot immediately, but he doesn’t. You can see in the screencap that he pulls the puck close. A defenseman is about to try something fancy.
He skates the puck in even deeper, patiently waiting for the goalie to commit to something. He sees the left pad go out and goes around the goalie’s leg. To put this in football terms, a defenseman skating in and scoring is essentially the equivalent of a fat guy touchdown.
UM 2 RPI 0 PPG 14:50 Kile (7) from Nieves (6) and Hyman (9)
Hyman thinks about skating behind the net here, but he seems to think he can’t get past his defender and turns back with the puck. As he’s getting checked, however, he sees that Nieves has come down to the opposite corner, and he’s able to get the pass off before he’s fully compressed against plexiglass.
Circled: dangerman. Also, look at Curtis Leonard (#10) trying to block a shot like a frog.
Four defenders look at Kile at the same time, all realizing that he’s a forward in the middle of a defensive desert. Between the four of them I’m sure had to run more stairs for this breakdown than I walk in a calendar year. Oh, and Kile scored because obviously.
Hard to blame RPI’s goaltender here because
UM 3 RPI 0 EV 16:54 Nieves (3) from Motte (4) and Martin (4)
Cutler Martin carries through the neutral zone, loses his handle on the puck, and regains possession in the corner of the offensive zone. He puts a ton of force into a backhand centering pass that he’s intending for Motte, but it looks like RPI’s goalie Scott Diebold poke checks away. They gave an assist to Motte, so whatever happened (the video quality isn’t good enough to tell) the puck ends up skipping toward the opposite boards.
The puck hits the boards and bounces toward the faceoff circle. Look at Nieves’ windup. The last time I saw anything that exaggerated was in NHL 2003 for Playstation 2. That’s terrifying.
Nieves’ shot hits the farside post and goes in. You can see in the screencap that the goalie can’t get his glove up fast enough to do anything about the shot.
Nieves then does the classic gonna-play-freeze-tag-in-the-corner-hey-that-guy-looks-like-he’s-berating-me-but-he’s-probably-not-he’s-wearing-Michigan-stuff celebration. A time-honored tradition, that one.
UM 4 RPI 0 PPG 8:42 Nieves (4) from Copp (6) and Nagelvoort (1)
I’m not entirely sure I can do this one justice, but I’ll try. Welcome to FlightAware: Boo Nieves edition.
Status: split two defenders
Distance: so far, a lot?
I ran out of jokes because I be like dang. Nieves skates in so close to the goaltender that he’s practically begging him to poke check, but maintains possession and lifts the puck seemingly straight up and over the goalie.
UM 5 RPI 0 EV 9:02 Calderone (1) from Motte (5) and Shuart (5)
RPI’s Riley Bourbonnais tries to shoot and fans on the puck. It ends up trickling behind him, and Zach Werenski sees this and ties up Bourbonnais. This allows Motte to pick up the puck and skate it out of the defensive zone.
As you can see in the above screencap, there are four RPI (now) defenders behind the play. This leaves one guy back to try and stop a 2-on-1 opportunity for Michigan. He stays in between Motte and Calderone until Motte gets into the faceoff circle, at which point he locks on to Motte.
The RPI defender extends his stick to take away the horizontal passing lane. He doesn’t expect Motte to pass around him vertically, but he’s able to because Calderone has skated ahead of the defender. Once the puck hits his stick all he has to do is tap it in.
UM 6 RPI 0 EV 13:58 Compher (3) from Shuart (5) and Martin (5)
Max Shuart wins a battle along the boards in the defensive zone and emerges with the puck. He skates through the neutral zone, and as he’s about to run into a defender near center ice he sees that JT Compher is coming through the zone with speed. He dishes to Compher, who has a huge amount of icy real estate in front of him.
Compher takes a wide angle that helps him out-skate the one defender that he needs to beat, and with nothing but open ice in front of him he begins to cut toward the net.
Switching to the reverse angle here, you can see that Compher goes from having one hand on his stick…
…to pulling the puck across his body and getting a second hand on the stick without running into the goaltender. He’s now got the puck on his forehand and taps it in past the goalie’s extended left leg pad. The goalie tried to stay square to Compher and respect a potential backhanded shot, but Compher moved the puck so quickly from backhand to forehand that he wasn’t able to push laterally across the crease quickly enough to get to the opposite post.
Does anyone ever check anything? No? Okay. This exists.
— David Adrian (@davidcadrian) November 12, 2014
Michigan needs to have a twitter feed in which they ask everyone if this thing they're about to do is a bad idea.
Speaking of things that exist without being checked that should not exist. Oh man the takes coming out of the Free Press after Frank Clark's dismissal are super super hot:
The Free Press must have a logic puzzle as part of their hiring process. Anyone who figures it out fails.
This, by the way, this is a great example of the pointless moralizing I was talking about. Seidel doesn't give damn about whether Michigan officially dismissed Clark on Sunday or Monday, he's just complaining to show off how impressively ethical he is. Barry Petchesky just had an excellent piece on how the NFL is using Adrian Peterson to repair The Brand:
3. This is a pure PR play on the part of the NFL, and it's almost too cynical to be believed. The league had been reeling from widespread criticism of its eagerness to co-opt the legal process and its inability to sensitively or sensibly handle morality. Peterson—a black-and-white villain—was a blessing. Maybe a bad man, maybe a man who did bad things, he's a relatively uncomplicated figure, and the NFL was thrilled to have someone to position itself against. The NFL clambered over Peterson to regain the moral high ground it never actually deserved, and is using that platform to shout out, "We are strongly against the beating of children." This is the safest and most defensible position in the world. What we're seeing is the return of the soldiers-and-puppies-and-Pinktober NFL, barely months after the Ray Rice fiasco exposed that as a thin facade. There has been no meaningful change. The league is still beyond reproach, because it cares about the children.
Seidel roundly condemns domestic violence to create the appearance he's a rad dude; the only person served by his column is himself.
Fan appreciation day. At least they're trying. Michigan's announced a bunch of minor fan perks for the Maryland game, including some concession concessions and apparel discounts for season ticket holders. They're also allowing field access. That access is slated to start 30-45 minutes after a 3:30 game that looks likely to feature freezing rain—ain't nobody staying for that.
We've got photos of other stuff. We've been branching out our photos into non-revenue sports. Here's a SOON shot from volleyball's outing against Minnesota:
As always, mgoblog photos are Creative Commons licensed so you can use them. Just credit the photographer and link back.
Exit Will Muschamp. Florida axed him yesterday, and man the parallels here are eerie: Muschamp had a weird, horseshoe-flavored 11-2 year (his second; Hoke's first) before seemingly excellent recruiting collapsed in a pile of offensive ineptitude too intense to be believed. QBs in Gainesville and Ann Arbor disintegrated into quivering interception machines before our eyes; the defenses generally stood tall despite extremely adverse conditions; both teams mutated football never-before-seen piles of suck, despair, and hilarity.
Today they had a press conference in which Muschamp handled himself ably and everyone swore up and down he was the best dude. Earlier this year Spencer and I had an IM conversation about swapping coaches, and it turns out that's beside the point: Muschamp and Hoke are the same dude.
3. There is no limit to the variations of failure here. Muschamp was blown out at home on Homecoming by Mizzou, 42-13, and sniped by a late field goal, completing a 30-27 home collapse against LSU. Alabama could have scored 60 on the Gators, but got bored and politely declined the option in a 42-21 road humiliation. When Florida lined up for a late punt against South Carolina after the Gamecocks had already blocked a game-clinching field goal, the kick was blocked before the ball was ever snapped. Don't ever tell anyone you can't block a ball with your mind; Florida did it, and then handed it to South Carolina with a smile. The confidence in delivering losses was the only constant Florida had left, something it got down to some time after the worst loss in program history: a home defeat by Georgia Southern in 2013.
Did you forget that happened, the low point of lows for an entire era? He did that. Will Muschamp's signature loss of signature losses is him misspelling the word "fart" in spray paint across "The Birth of Venus." It's an atrocity almost admirable in its accidental, perfect malice. For the record, I think Will would spell it "p-h-a-r-t," because that's the funniest possible misspelling of the word.
With reports that Dan Mullen won't be of interest, my main regret about Florida pulling the trigger early is that Spencer got the jump on the one-sentence summation of the last four years:
11. In conclusion: RIP, Big Dumb Will Muschamp Football. In the end, you were too dumb to live and too ugly to mourn.
May Spencer find his Christmas tree stocked with Air Raid coaches, and may Will Muschamp migrate northwards to be Jim Harbaugh's DC.
Now everything will be fixed forever. The NCAA has taken the first and most important step towards being an organization that creates good in this world:
Rounds of 64 and 32 will return to being called the first and second rounds in 2016: pic.twitter.com/IO1NJH9mss
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) November 17, 2014
Long national nightmare, etc.
Hockey stuff. I haven't said too much about the hockey team yet; I don't usually during football season because of time constraints and just the fact that I'm not that good at figuring out hockey even now and need some time to get my head around. I'm not much closer after Michigan's meh sweep of American International. Center Ice:
The problems started when the defensive pairings were changed again. The blueline predictably looked disjointed, pinching at the wrong times, getting caught out of position and allowing the Yellow Jackets to get countless odd man rushes on Zach Nagelvoort.
Michigan suffocated AIC by pressuring in the offensive zone for the majority of both games, but when the Yellow Jackets countered they easily found quality scoring chances. When the defense had their way on Saturday cutting down mistakes, Nagelvoort wasn't able to keep the puck out of the net and the Yellow Jackets were able to not just stay in the game, but put Michigan on the ropes early.
AIC is usually so bad that anyone within shouting distance of the tournament sees wins against them excised from their RPI because counting those games would actually lower it. These games were essentially exhibitions against a team much worse than the U18s, and Michigan duly dominated attack time and SOG.
I don't take much positive from it, though. On Friday AIC had three separate 3-on-1s and a half-dozen other odd-man rushes besides; on Saturday they played Michigan almost even through two periods. I'm at a loss to explain Michigan's play. They have piles of talent, certainly enough to scrape through if their back end was making moderate mistakes occasionally instead of enormous ones frequently. That's not the case, and then the offense has lacked incisiveness against anyone better than AIC since… since TJ Hensick left? It's been a long time since Michigan's had a guy like him.
So I don't know. Michigan is really behind the eight ball here, already, playing in a crappy conference with a 2-5 record in games that will actually matter when it's time to find tourney participants. Would Red hang on for that last year when Tech is 10-0(!) and headed for their best season since the 1980s, thus paving the way for Pearson to come back? I don't know, but that's what I'm thinking about now… not getting back to the tourney this year.
At least they're finally fixing the ice infrastructure? Yost's ice has been iffy for years.
Speaking of hockey. Arizona State(?!) announces they will add a D-I program. Like Penn State, they make the leap from ACHA power. ASU is a weird program to make the leap; there are no West Coast programs. The three Colorado outfits are the only schools even vaguely close. Even so I'd guess the NCHC snaps them up. Arizona State brings a bigger athletic profile than most of their members.
This is one of the benefits of the Big Ten's formation, by the way. That reorganized the western programs into three conferences instead of two. After CHA folded, programs that were considering hockey had a dubious future as an independent. Now there are spots for another dozen teams, as long as some of them are in the Big Ten.
Buffalo might be next, with Penn State benefactor and new Bills owner Terry Pegula potentially fronting the capital.
You used to know how to do this. Michigan scheduled a home hockey game for a football Saturday. That game is at 3:30. The hockey game is at 7:30. Remind me why I have season tickets again? Is it because I'm dumb? It feels like that's the reason.
Michigan never used to do this. Instead they would have the occasional Sunday matinee. New athletic director please save us. And stop running the ARE YOU FAN ENOUGH commercial for the hockey game the previous athletic director yanked out of our season ticket packages.
Etc.: Ray Taylor's baby has impeccable timing. Approximately 3k unsold seats for Maryland. Michigan catches another personnel break as freshman Maryland WR Juwann Winifree is suspended for Saturday. Old photos. Justin Meram gets a call-up to the Iraq national team. Dilly bar details.
Could he keep his job?
You can't twirl a dead cat anymore without hitting someone claiming, "if Brady Hoke wins out he could keep his job." If you ignore the fact that at no point has this team even competed with a competent team, there is still too much against him, right? If somehow the stars align and a UM team that was embarrassed in New Jersey can beat an OSU team that will probably be favored by 20+, Hoke is still gone, right?
I'm terrified that all this smoke about him still having a chance means there's fire. The last thing UM needs is to have Hoke Wayne Fontes his way into another chance. Pleases just tell me that a New AD means a new coach and I can enjoy watching Drake Johnson run roughshod over NW.
-Dylan [Ed: not that Dylan]
It's worse than that, actually: there are a number of people asserting crazy things about what happens if Michigan squeaks into a bowl game.
First, that is not likely. Michigan is a dog to a Northwestern team that just got blitzed by Iowa, and they'll probably be a slight favorite against Maryland before being a two-TD dog against OSU. Going to a bowl at all is a 30% proposition.
Even if Michigan finishes the season "strong" I can't imagine Hoke returning for a thousand reasons we've all seen. The major one is what happens to the season ticket base. It has to take a significant hit if Hoke's back, and with Brandon expanding his expenses even more rapidly than he expanded Michigan's revenue that could see Michigan dip into the red. That's not tenable.
Neither is Hoke. Without a miracle upset against Ohio State this year's resume consists of wins over some of the worst teams Division I has to offer and comprehensive blowouts against any team with a pulse. In year four, with an offense that is more experienced than Ohio State's.
Are we going back to the Duderstadt attitude?
What's up mgoblog,
I have read a lot about " be careful what you wish for" in terms of firing Dave. I think all football fans agree that we need to pay our coaches competitive salaries and Dave was on the same page.
It has been discussed most recently by Sam Webb that Schlissel has little interest in paying a coach top dollar.
Do you think there is some truth to this or do you think this is just speculation.
I am worried Michigan will hire a decent coach and be content with 8-4.
Mike V in CT.
I don't have much to go on in this department and I don't think many people know what's going on inside Schlissel's head. But: I seriously doubt that Schlissel is going to say anything to his athletic director about appropriate salaries as long as the department stays in the black. He's a doctor and a biology professor; he's going to look at numbers and do the thing that makes sense.
Since one of the best ways to keep the department in the black is to hire a real good football coach, I doubt a couple million a year is going to make or break M's ability to get the right guy.
If there's anything resembling a reconfiguring of priorities I would expect it comes in the academic component of the athletic department. That's something I forgot about in the previous mailbag when I was searching for good things Brandon did—under his watch Michigan pulled out of the Rodriguez transition APR disaster and graduated literally every senior FB player under Hoke. I don't think an emphasis on getting plausible students is going to have a ton of impact since Michigan is avoiding borderline guys already.
Michigan might scale back some of the more extravagant building projects for non-revenue sports, but I'm of the opinion that's a good thing. Palaces make some sense for the revenue sports because they, you know, generate revenue. (And those are all done anyway.) Adding permanent maintenance and debt service costs to the U's bottom line puts more stress on the fans to provide money and reduces Michigan's ability to get quality coaches in all sports.
[After THE JUMP: student attendance against Indiana, turnaround timeframe, WHYYYYY]
I would like to know your take on the student attendance at the Indiana game. Was the lack of attendance following Brandon's resignation indicative of ongoing anger with the program? Or do you think it had to do with post-Halloween lethargy?
Second, do you think our win was in part due to a burst of energy follow a positive change in our athletic program or merely because Indiana is just a bad football team?
Brandon's exit didn't change many of the fundamental facts presented the students on Saturday: they were hungover, it was surprisingly cold, Michigan is not a good football team, and the game they were watching was not a good football game. Also only 12,000 of them have tickets this year.
Hell, I was seriously thinking about leaving in the fourth quarter. The entertainment value here is not real high, and even the normal reason to hang around and watch a game like Indiana—it might give you some information about how Michigan will be the rest of the year and possibly next year—is a really weak one at the moment.
Michigan won because Indiana is really really bad, especially without a QB.
How quick can this turn around?
I keep hearing you suggest that whomever the coach is, we should expect a four year rebuild. I can't help but feel this is a classic situation of the new coach winning with the old coach's players. The roster is full of scholarship players. There is a huge number of four and five star players entering upper class men range. I especially expect a huge bump from the offensive and defensive lineman entering that range. Are these players damaged from the disorganization that has plagued the team? Were there really that many swing and misses?
I don't think I've said this is a major reclamation project. Rodriguez had one. Hoke had one. The next guy is walking into 9 or 10 returning starters on offense and a defense that returns seven starters plus Morgan and Peppers. Unlike both of the previous transitions, the new coach will have double-digit offensive linemen.
I do think it's likely that Michigan had some swings and misses amongst its touted offensive line class; otherwise they would not be starting a true freshman at LT. Still, a new good mean coach can get production out of these gentlemen quickly. A look at the roster suggests the year two breakout that successful coaches tend to have is very plausible.
As long as he finds a QB, that is.
I know for some its a forgone conclusion that Hoke will not be
back after this season. I have no problem with this as he has simply
failed to develop players, and most of all, regressed every year.
That being said, I have one question. Why?
What do you see our successful opponents doing when you watch on film, that we are not doing. Specifically, is there a fundamental flaw that you see
when watching hours of video that our team possesses that could only come from our coaches? I'm not talking about Gardner and his footwork, or the O-line/running backs failing to pick up yet another A-gap blitz. We know they fail at these things, we know that the running backs don't hit the holes. But why?
I don't know if I am even asking my question correctly. What is it at the molecular level that has prevented this team from learning from their mistakes? Is the system too complicated? Too simple? Too archaic? If Chris
Spielman can predict a run or pass play based on some obvious mannerisms by the MSU RB, why couldn't Hoke pick up on this from the hours of video he watched? I know you don't have access to the team practices (unfortunately), and I know you are not a football coach, but is there something specific you see that makes you think our players are being taught incorrect things?
I wish I had an easy answer. For Rodriguez there was an easy answer: he hired two guys who didn't know a 3-3-5 from a hole in the ground to run his defense and his assistants hated the idea of running anything else. (Here's a what-if-the-Nazis-won-WWII counterfactual: what if Rodriguez installed Tony Gibson as his DC on day 1.) That paired with Mallett's departure and the dearth of talent left from the Carr regime put him behind the eight ball and he could not recover.
Hoke is a more complicated nut to crack. I do think it says something about something that the coaching staff came in swearing up and down that they were going to run power down the opponents' throat and have gone to an inside zone oriented system in year four. In year one, they ended up running the inverted veer wrong but got bailed out by Denard being Denard and OSU being down to a seriously injured freshman edition of Ryan Shazier.
At no point have they settled on a thing to be, and the things they wanted to be only grudgingly took advantage of the fact that they had some super fast QBs.
Yes, they're too archaic. Jeff Hecklinski told Sam Webb that "speed can be taught"; a glance at this year's WR corps suggest that's not actually true. They've assembled an offense with very little speed and insisted on running a bunch of tight ends onto the field when for most of the Hoke regime they've been more likely to blow a block than make one. They've heavily preferred their biggest backs despite serious performance issues; they have a vision of their program that is hard to make work unless you're Alabama. (Yeah, Stanford. Stanford and…?)
That's one issue, but the bigger one is that it seems like everyone is sloppy. Hoke's making bonkers decisions on a weekly basis. WRs run bad routes, OL blow by their assignments, RBs miss holes, safeties take terrible angles. The most likely explanation to me is that Michigan is poorly structured from the top down, with a lack of—I'm sorry to use this #hottake—accountability with various assistants.
The mission statement.
The AD's customers are the student-athletes. The mission statement is 300 + words long and does not mention students, alumni, fans, community or state. Dave Brandon was just doing his job.
Obviously this is dumb. More importantly, it seems to not be how Schlissel conceives of the Athletic Department's role. Do you know how people change a mission statement here? Do people within the AD take the mission statement seriously?
Mission statements are never taken seriously by anyone except the committee crafting them, and as soon as they're done torturing the English language past its breaking point they forget about it too. That does provide a great deal of insight into the department's attitude.
Here's what the mission statement should be:
"The University of Michigan athletic department strives to graduate its athletes, win games, and provide a kick-ass fan experience at a fair price."
RAP LYRICS INDICATING SUITABILITY OF PURPOSE [MichiganTechHuskies.com]
Mel Pearson tha god?
@mgoblog For your mailbag: M Hockey has basically sucked since Mel Pearson left. Is there a direct correlation?
— A2 Torch & Pitchfork (@A2Torch) November 2, 2014
I think so.
I mean, I kind of thought so when Pearson went to Tech and they immediately went from punching bag to pretty decent. The year before Pearson arrived in Houghton the Huskies were 4-30-4(!), and the previous two years had seen the Huskies win 5 and 6 games. Pearson helicopters in; they immediately go 16-19-4, their best season since 2005-06, and they've hovered slightly under .500 since. Before Pearson, MTU's had two seasons of 10+ wins since 1999-00.
This year they're going full Mullen. They're 6-0, having swept LSSU and Ferris on the road before blowing Michigan's doors off in a series that was 10-3 total goals. Meanwhile, Michigan has fallen off the map and is facing down what may be their third straight year without a tourney bid of any variety.
By the end of this year or next—Berenson is scheduled to retire after 2014-15 but has made noises about getting out early if he thinks he's not getting it done—Pearson is going to look like a strong candidate for any college hockey job, let alone the one he helped drive to great success. Age is the only drawback—he's 55 currently.
Pearson's biggest obstacle to the Michigan job is in Massachusetts, where UMass-Lowell coach Norm Bazin has done even more incredible work. The year before his arrival UML went 5-25-4. They hadn't been to the tournament since 1996. In Bazin's three years UML has been to the tourney every year,—doubling the number of bids in the history of the program—won their first-ever Hockey East title, and gone to their first-ever Frozen Four. He's in his fourth year there and he's already won HE coach of the year twice and national coach of the year once. Possible difficulty: Bazin's a UML alum.
Even if Bazin doesn't work out, if the worst you can do is Mel Pearson you're gonna have a good coaching search.
[ED: been slightly crazy around here recently, so UFR delayed. Look for both halves tomorrow. Not that they'll tell you anything you didn't already know.]
continuing this week's theme
The response. Brandon on the emails:
"I don't read blogs so I think it's nonsense. … I'm here to get an award tonight, so I appreciate you showing up, but that's not why I'm here."
Would you describe this award as… major?
Also, from former CSG president Mike Proppe:
I've had multiple conversations with Dave Brandon. He has talked about @mgoblog before. So...yeah.
— Michael Proppe (@mikeproppe) October 29, 2014
Doesn't seem to be working. You know it's bad when the Alumni association publishes a piece titled "Alumni React to Lower Football Student Ticket Prices" and this is the nicest thing in it:
"If the students are not part of the Athletic tradition, then it becomes just a business and commercial venture."
It's nice because it says "if." Other choice excerpts:
"I come to Ann Arbor to remember the days that I lived there, that I went to games with friends, that I remembered cheering for MY team. If I wanted a corporate culture, I'd just go to an NFL game."
"The athletic department procedures have emptied the cupboard of alumni support over the last several years and it will take a significant change within the department to bolster the level of support and fervor that existed then."
"It's appalling that the students are the ones being seen as just one more "market" to be considered...without student support of the University, you will eventually lose alumni support."
The comments are another continual carpet-bombing, including this comment left by Steve Strinko:
Our 1974 Football team is being honored at Homecoming and we did get 1 complimentary ticket, however, I am bringing the allotted three guests at a cost of $75 per ticket. Seem crazy to pay $225 for my family to join me at this event. Oh well, the state of Michigan Athletics, or at least football.
Strinko was the starting MLB on the 1974 team.
This is from the alumni association! When you've lost the alumni association, who do you have left?
This was made a month ago. Sometimes marketing does help, because how did no one see this until 11W?
Ripped from the headlines.
— Ben Fidelman (@TMDFidelman) October 29, 2014
— Ben Fidelman (@TMDFidelman) October 29, 2014
Hope Brandon's taking this pass/fail.
It could have been much worse. In general, football games that feel like Michigan's latest outing aren't close. They are even less close than 35-11. Bill Connelly:
In the end, even with State's late touchdown, the final score of Michigan State 35, Michigan 11 was kind to the losing team. The Spartans doubled the Wolverines on a per-play basis (6.6 yards to 3.3) and more than doubled them up in total yardage (446 to 186). And the game was played at a snail's pace, too (125 total plays) -- even an average pace would have resulted in a Spartan win of 30-plus points.
Finally, a justification for being the slowest team in the country.
I… I can say nothing. Here is an Indiana blog talking about football, and landing body blows.
I, an Indiana football fan, feel bad for you.
Welcome to the Big Ten Underworld, Wolverine fans. The days are long, the nights are filled with six-touchdown losses to Ohio State, and one in every 5-7 seasons ends in a post-Christmas bowl in Detroit. Your program is now on a comparable level to a partly-incapacitated Indiana.
Well, at least I…
By my count, Diamont only kept it on a zone read one other time. Given the state of the quarterback position, I imagine Diamont was under fairly strict instructions to hand the ball off to Coleman early and often. Probably for the same reason, we also didn’t see Diamont running any speed option or QB draw. He looked mobile on a few rollouts and he did a decent job of running for his life when Sparty put him under pressure.
To sum it up, as we discussed last week, expecting anything out of Diamont in this game was unrealistic. If we define “expecting nothing” as expecting Diamont to account for zero yards rushing or passing, well…somehow Zander failed to meet expectations. In non-garbage time, Diamont threw for -2 yards and ran for –12. While the numbers are troubling, I was more concerned with the way he missed a number of somewhat simple throws. He missed all four of the 5-7-yard hitches/outs he attempted, and three of the four weren’t close. His two attempts to get the ball downfield to Wynn missed badly.
Punt John Punt, it's called. Never say I didn't do anything for you, Jamie.
THE SMOKING GUNNNNNN. I feel confident in asserting this gentleman has a beard, on his neck.
Something nice. Basketball will hold an open practice on Wednesday from 6 to 7. Not today. Next Wednesday.
A blast from the past. A USCHO poster has unearthed and scanned in a program from the 1983 Michigan Tech-Michigan series—the last time M traveled to Houghton.
Quite an artifact.
[HT: SBN CH]
You may not be doing this right. I've seen a few different message board threads stating that Doug Karsch said that he's talked to two sources in the Brandon camp who are "bracing for a change"—same language in multiple places, so I thought it was pretty legit. So I wander over to 97.1's podcasts page and find that the only item posted today is…
John Gasaway on offensive rebounding and how you shouldn't totally ignore it in favor of transition D. Michigan is classified as a team that "de-emphasizes" OREBs, FWIW, and is not exhorted to crash the glass. Northwestern is.