Good To Have That Bad Old Feeling Back

Good To Have That Bad Old Feeling Back Comment Count

Brian April 6th, 2018 at 2:37 PM

4/5/2018 – Michigan 3, Notre Dame 4 – 22-15-3, season over

26396098107_46681b06cc_z

[Patrick Barron]

John Buccigross freaked out about it. So did Barry Melrose. So did I, when Michigan flung a puck across the slot and Tony Calderone ripped off one of his last trademark snap shots from the slot. This one was a one-timer. An ND defenseman screened the camera from the goal line so I flicked my eyes to the back of the net, where the net would soon bulge in reaction to Michigan's triumph.

Instead, nothing. Buccigross's register cracked glass as my heart sunk. I waited for a replay to see how Cale Morris had desperately flung some extremity or another at the puck and gotten lucky, so I could curse bloody fate.

The replay came, and it was even worse than that: Calderone had plunked Morris in the chest. On a cross-slot one-timer. Because Morris was already on the far post. What the &#*$. That's some Shawn Hunwick business from a guy a half-foot taller. So much for "Cale Morris is a system goaltender."

Half a period later, after the Pastujovs had gritted out a tying goal and overtime seemed inevitable, Michigan did not get a similar save. For ND to get a shot at all after they were apparently trying to run out the period with 16 seconds left deep in their own end is a team-wide thing, but the nature of that shot after Quinn Hughes kind of sort of tied up his man's stick was "mostly harmless."

But for some reason, Hayden Lavigne's attempt to reposition went about as poorly as Morris's went well. He pushed out of the crease vertically, opening up a gap that was less a five hole and more the Seven Nation Army video. The puck dinked his pad and slid to the back of the net.

Ah yes. That old feeling. The burnt, black dirt and grass.

---------------------------

And at least Michigan kind of deserved it? That's all I can say about this tournament format. I don't feel like this was an injustice. They blew a chance to correct various injustices past, for a given definition of "blew." Playing an even-ish game against a really good team and not winning it is… fine? Sort of?

I mean obviously black burnt dirt and grass, but if the difference in this game was having a .945 goalie versus a .910 goalie there can be no complaints to the persistently oafish hockey gods even if the thunderbolt came with five seconds left. From a fan satisfaction perspective I was in fact just happy to be here after one bid in five years, coming off a season in which the only thing keeping them from single-digit wins was, ironically, goaltending that exceeded expectations.

Restoring Michigan back to the juggernaut they were during the 15 prime Berenson years takes time. Michigan is ahead of schedule after the 14-4-1 tear to reach the Frozen Four, and they're back to recruiting like maniacs who want to play maniac hockey.

It feels like the train is coming. Once it is assembled and Michigan loses to Mercyhurst because their goalie makes a mole of saves, I will jump in the bathtub of bourbon and moan that the universe is a simulation created by Knute Rockne. Now I'll just enjoy feeling feelings about hockey again, and having a reason to mope around the house on a Friday with a yawning black pit of despair threatening to send me to my knees every 47.2 minutes.

Sports! Sports are fun!

Comments

Hockey Preview: Notre Dame, Frozen Four

Hockey Preview: Notre Dame, Frozen Four Comment Count

Brian April 5th, 2018 at 3:47 PM

Screen_shot_2010-04-30_at_12.46.06_AMTHE ESSENTIALS

WHAT #7 Michigan (22-14-3) vs
#2 Notre Dame(25-9-2)
WHERE Ann Arbor Elder Law Center           
St. Paul, MN
WHEN 9:30 PM
LINE Notre Dame 67% (KRACH)
TV ESPN2

we hateses rapping hobbits  

THE US

Michigan's opponent is an extremely familiar one: Notre Dame. The teams split the season series 2-2, with an early January Notre Dame sweep followed by Michigan's mid-February riposte. The first series saw Michigan play the then-#1 team in the country dead even, setting up their second half run. The second took Michigan's chances for a tourney bid from distantly possible to all but assured.

One thing this game is certain to be is tight. Tight checking, tight on the scoreboard, tight-sphinctered. Three of the four games were decided by one goal; the fourth was a 4-2 win at Yost. Shot totals from the four games were similarly narrow. After Michigan outshot ND 36-27 in the first game it was a dead heat the rest of the way: 34-36, 36-36, 37-35.  There was only a bit more wobble in shot attempts, with two very even games and one decisive win by each team. Michigan had a very slight edge in attempts from the house per Dave's charting.

Might be worth noting that Michigan was missing Josh Norris and Quinn Hughes from the first of the four games, as both were coming off the WJCs. Adding them did not give Michigan a decisive advantage—the game they missed was in fact Michigan's best from a shot perspective—but this Hughes is not that Hughes.

THE THEM

during game action between University of Notre Dame vs Michigan State University at Compton Family Arena in South Bend, Indiana

man playing hockey

Notre Dame is a relentlessly disciplined outfit that relies more on structure and reliability than pew-pew lasers. They've split their top two scorers across two lines, which has been a positive for Michigan since their second unit of Norris-Slaker-Warren is a bunch of two-way players that Michigan sought to match against the Greenway/Tkachuk monster line BU put out.

Top scorer Jake Evans, a senior and 7th round pick, has 11-31-42 on the year. This scouting report on Evans from before last year's Frozen Four is also Notre Dame in a nutshell:

Jake Evans, Jr., C - It takes watching the Montreal Canadiens prospect in all three zones to truly appreciate the impact he has on a game. His 13 goals and 28 assists for 41 points ranks third on the Irish, but it's his complete play as a two-way center that makes him truly special. He is good on draws and responsible throughout the 200 feet of the ice sheet. He does a terrific job of engaging, lifting sticks and disrupting shooting and passing lanes. He is very hard to play against.

He's flanked by sophomore Cam Morrison (8-13-21, second round pick) and freshman Colin Theisen (6-13-19); Morrison is a power forward type who hasn't quite been the scorer ND probably hoped he'd be after a USHL PPG as a 17-year-old.

Line 1A features Cal Burke (13-12-25), the only ND player with double-digit even strength goals, and Andrew Oglevie (13-23-36), their top PP scorer and leading shooter amongst forwards. Dylan Malmquist is an infrequent shooter benefiting from some puck luck to get up to 9-10-19.

It gets thin for ND after their top two lines; the third line has one guy with double-digit points on the season, and the fourth line is actually two guys you'll probably see for five minutes tops; ND has dressed 7 defensemen for most of the season.

As you might imagine for a defensively oriented team, ND's blue line is excellent. Senior Jordan Gross (10-18-28) picks up a bunch of the slack that the middling forward corps leaves when it comes to scoring; while he's not super-dynamic he's got an excellent, accurate point shot and picks his spots well. Andrew Peeke, Matt Hellickson, and Dennis Gilbert are all draftees, and junior Bobby Nardella has an impressive 5-19-24 line.

Taking advantage of scanty opportunities will be crucial, whether that's a power play or an incredibly rare odd-man rush. That goes for both teams. There aren't going to be a lot of Grade A chances out there.

SPECIAL TEAMS

"Stay out of the box" remains so imperative that you might as well get it tattooed on the inside of your eyelids. ND's power play is 10th nationally at 23%, which is bad for Michigan's #57 penalty kill. On the bright side, ND-Michigan games were relatively clean this year. Michigan averaged three (attempted) kills per game instead of the 4 they averaged across the season. Playoff hockey tends to depress calls, which helped Michigan as they faced just four PPs in the regionals.

The other bright reason why "stay out of the box" is so imperative: Notre Dame has just one even strength goal against Michigan this year. Their shooting percentage almost doubles from 7.7 to 14.2 when they get on the power play.

The other side of the coin isn't much more encouraging: ND's penalty kill keeps the puck out of the net 89% of the time, which is second nationally. The disparity is so big here that Michigan getting hauled down without a call early might actually be a good sign if it signals that the whistles will be rare. As much 5v5 as possible, thanks.

GOALIE

Cale Morris leads the country with a .945 save percentage, so they've got that going for them. Morris is undrafted, got just one game a year ago, and had a .906 in his final year in the USHL, so maybe that's more about the team around him than his talent level?

THE KEYS

Stay out of the box! ND isn't as good on the power play as Northeastern but the gap between their scoring rates is probably similar. ND struggles to put up goals at even strength, particularly against this Michigan team.

Quinn, again. Quinn Hughes is by far the best player at this Frozen Four and his ability to jet into the zone and break up the usual monotony of cycling on the boards in the least threatening part of the offensive zone is a crucial advantage Michigan has over an ND team that's extremely adept at forcing dump-ins and making it hard to generate scoring opportunities afterwards. Hughes is now playing 25-30 minutes, during which Michigan should be killing it 5v5.

Hope ND's slide continues. ND's desire to win 2-1 every game worked out great until a couple months ago, when they started dropping a bunch of games. Since that Michigan series in early January ND finished the regular season 5-6-1; while they've gotten back on track in the postseason, their four wins have all been by one goal, two of them in overtime, in games that were dead even by shots. That 67% above from KRACH is bunk, I say.

PREDICTIONS

are stupid

Comments

MGoPodcast 9.26: The Nicest Most Hated Pick and Roll in America

MGoPodcast 9.26: The Nicest Most Hated Pick and Roll in America Comment Count

Seth April 5th, 2018 at 7:14 AM

1 hour and 43 minutes

image

We are at the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, our gracious hosts and yours this fall if you act fast enough.

We Couldn’t Have One Without the Other

We can do this because people support us. You should support them too so they’ll want to do it again next year! The show is presented by UGP & The Bo Store, and if it wasn’t for Rishi and Ryan there would be VERY long hiatuses between podcasts.

Our other sponsors are also key to all of this: HomeSure Lending, Peak Wealth Management, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Michigan Law Grad,Human Element, Lantana Hummus and Ecotelligent Homes

---------------------------------

1. The Championship Game: Emotionally Drunk

starts at 1:00

Better to lose to a guy we respect than a criminal sex vampire. Brunson doesn’t bother us—like you can’t be mad about a guy Michigan wanted badly when Michigan gets is pure as the driven snow. Analysis is Donte DiVencenzo made off the dribble jacks four or five feet behind the line. Really could have used the Wagner Three Point Principle. Poor performances previously probably hurt Michigan in fatigue. Gameplan was fine: wide looks from three with their best shooters, 66% from two, lots of possible and-ones rimmed out. DiVencenzo heat checks prevented any getting back into the game, Nova ORebs were lucky and also Spellman, but that’s overstated: they didn’t convert them. Who could have predicted this Big Ten (/points at selves). Beilein as Tyrone Biggums of tape. Remember the bubble watch columns. Good feels.

2. Next Year: The Us

starts at 26:11

Position by position. PG: Indicators are if they want to get better shooting they have to cut into Z’s minutes. What’s a DeJulius who doesn’t have to start and can just come in to heat check? Eli Brooks is a guy Jay Wright wanted! POOLE! And Adrian Nunez? Anyway Skauskas/Levert breakout for Poole. Matthews expected back, think they can make him a shooter. Poole should take some pressure off him. Also Iggy should…be a McDonald’s All-American. The four, Livers?—feels a bit like early D.J. Wilson. Was 1/12 from three in last 14 games. Johns has a physical presence, Iggy gets buckets. Center: Moe has a decision to make. Unleash Teske: between great and game-changing rim defender. Redshirt Castleton if you can and use Davis.

3. Next Year: The Them

starts at 1:06:39

Around the Big Ten: anyone good? Wisconsin? Isaiah Roby? Let’s go with Roby. Penn State is interesting even though they lost their best player. Michigan State will need to lean on their back court. Don’t trust Indiana or a Pitino team despite some intriguing guys. Northwestern fans suddenly care about recruiting. Ohio State will be dangerous but maybe not in 2019.

4. Ace’s Hockey Podcast wsg Anthony Ciatti

starts at 1:22:42

ND is a very interesting matchup given the previous games. Sticking with ND was the turning point in Michigan’s season, sweeping them was the destiny punch. Typical Jeff Jackson team that’s super disciplined, lacking in high end scoring, great goaltending (not Hobie-worthy). Have not scored a lot of even strength goals. ND has the best player—the guy in net—but Marody and Hughes are the best two players on the ice. A moment for Quinn Hughes: he’ll be on the ice a lot!

Ohio State or Duluth? M-D has more variance; Michigan hasn’t played a team like that with a lot of young, well-coached talent except Wisconsin, and Wisconsin is a worse matchup than even “we’re 0-5 versus” Ohio State: don’t count the first two games, the second two M outshot OSU 3-2 since. DON’T TAKE PENALTIES!

---------------------------------

MUSIC

  • “It’s Not Too Beautiful”—The Beta Band
  • “Countdown”—Phoenix
  • “Brother”—The Rural Alberta Advantage
  • “Across 110th Street”

THE USUAL LINKS

It does feel nice to not have it be the criminal sex vampire.

Comments

WTKA Roundtable 3/29/2018: Return of the Mid-Range Assassins

WTKA Roundtable 3/29/2018: Return of the Mid-Range Assassins Comment Count

Seth March 30th, 2018 at 6:05 AM

image

Things discussed:

  • Sam is on a plane to San Antonio and Ed is not here so we’ve got Ira, Brian, and Craig today.
  • People should be nicer to Craig on our message boards.
  • Texas A&M: Show me two guys on the floor who can’t shoot and I’ll show you a Beilein win. Their zone didn’t matter because Michigan was hitting their shots, even if they weren’t as good of looks.
  • Nobody practices midrange twos anymore—back when Craig was playing routinely day everyone liked that shot—Moses was 80% from that spot.
  • Will see Michigan State play some 2-3 next year we bet. JJJ is 80% to come back via people in Lansing.
  • In the past when Michigan didn’t shoot well they just lost—being able to win these types of games is. Mindblowing stat: Michigan is 7-3 this year shooting under 1 PPP when historically they were 12-84.
  • Impressive that FSU didn’t get any transition points until that missed goaltend/awful call on Moe.
  • The story of Yacklich: guy wanted to stay a high school teacher!
  • Only elite defending PG you can put with Z in Michigan’s history with Z is Gary Grant. Yacklich has some weirdly defensive guys for Michigan: Z, Matthews.
  • The recruitment of Z and Winston: Z’s dad got frustrated with being State’s 2nd fiddle.
  • Leonard Hamilton and that relaxing 10 seconds. Two or three open looks all game! Their 7’4 guy only played 7 minutes?
  • Those coaches comments were pretty salty.
  • Loyola-Chicago: MVC Purdue. No rise-up shooters so their threes have to be assisted, but they can get efficient midrange shots to go regularly. Been winning games close. Will stretch Michigan’s defense.
  • If they get to the championship: Villanova terrifies us. Brunson postups might be Zavier Simpson kryptonite. Like a super Michigan. Much rather play Kansas: more of a Purdue with a true 7 footer who gets in foul trouble.
  • Frozen Four: Mel playing with house money. Very due for one of these Ohio State games when Michigan’s been winning 5-on-5 by a big margin. Hockey is plinko is the crux of the argument against this tournament format—Michigan got some luck against BU.
  • When Quinn Hughes is off the ice you’re asking when does Quinn Hughes go back on the ice? Nice that they’re no longer on top of basketball.

You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Podbean.

Segment two is here. Segment three is here.

THE USUAL LINKS

Ben Carter’s gone so Jackson should have a chance to get starter’s minutes now.

Comments

Plinko Pays Some Debts

Plinko Pays Some Debts Comment Count

Brian March 27th, 2018 at 1:10 PM

3/24/2018 – Michigan 3, Northeastern 2 – 21-14-3
3/25/2018 – Michigan 6, Boston U 3 – 22-14-3, Frozen Four

I've seen NCAA tournament games like Sunday's before: one team gets down, and gets desperate, and dumps all that energy into a relentless pursuit of the puck. Sometimes it's Michigan overturning a 3-0 deficit against Denver to win. Sometimes it's Boston College dominating just about every second despite being down 2-1. Most of the time when this team gets even, they keep going. BC's tying goal in 2004 was game over even if it took overtime. Shots were 45-17 in a game Michigan led the vast majority of. If North Dakota had scored on Shawn Hunwick, that was also game over.

So: Sunday. After about 30 minutes where Michigan had the edge in zone time and staked themselves to a two-goal lead, BU scores on a wraparound, then amps up their forecheck. The ice tilts their direction. When Quinn Hughes isn't on the ice, Michigan barely attempts a controlled zone exit, instead flinging the puck up the boards to BU defensemen. They dump it back in to continue the cycle. The game started to feel like Michigan's recent Big Ten playoff outing against Wisconsin, which this space called Michigan's worst of the year despite the fact that they won it.

And BU scores. They score when Josh Norris flips a pass back to Joe Cecconi in the face of two forecheckers. Cecconi makes a bad situation worse by trying to fling the puck up the slot. Turnover, unchecked guy directly in front of goalie with puck, goal, tie game, game over feeling.

The ensuing three minutes are more of the same; Michigan does not register a shot attempt and BU has a couple of dangerous chances. Then Slaker takes the puck out of the zone—a tiny flag is waved—and gets rubbed out on the boards. This is about the least threatening way hockey players can be configured:

image

Slaker duly follows up on the defenseman the puck is wandering towards, and then something magical and very very stupid happens. That guy's attempted D to D pass gets caught up in the snow around the bench and turns into a perfect lead pass for Slaker. Horrified, the defenseman explodes in a shower of equipment and collapses to the ground, where he remains even now. Slaker then skates into the slot and shoots a puck off the other defenseman's shin that goes straight into the net. Various larger flags are waved.

That's more or less it. Michigan puts up an insurance marker a bit later but in a game like hockey even when you're playing badly and giving up a bunch of zone time to the opposition, a one goal lead is usually enough with 13 minutes left. They put up a stat at the beginning of the third that Michigan was a brazillion and one when leading after two and BU was 2-6 when trailing. 

Slaker's goal combined with Michigan's second, which bounced off the end boards and behind the goalie directly to Brendan Warren, and the BU wrap-around goal to lend the proceedings the distinct whiff of Barely Weighted Hockey Plinko. This is why it was very exciting to get in the tournament: it's usually pretty random and this year there is no dominant team that threatens to make it less so. The top seed got blown up by Air Force, which is a movie we've seen before.

Once you're there, though… I have to admit that mixed in with the hope and nervousness is a certain nihilism, because of this terrible format and hockey's failure to address the goalie revolution that shot save percentages skyward. I shook my fist at hockey plinko when Northeastern scored to even a game in which Michigan had a 2-to-1 shot advantage, and muttered something positive about it under my breath when Michigan scored on a harmless-looking play to retake the lead. They don't quite even out.

But here they are, no more or less deserving than Carl Hagelin or TJ Hensick or dozens of other Michigan hockey players who had the misfortune to have the puck bounce the wrong way instead of the right way. Cooper Marody, Tony Calderone, and Dexter Dancs wiped out the best line in the country in game one; Quinn Hughes spent the weekend looking like he had rockets in his skates; the team as a whole mercifully stayed out of the box for the vast majority of both games. Insofar as it's possible to earn anything in single elimination hockey, Michigan has earned their way to their first Frozen Four in seven years.

May our continued existence continue to entertain the hockey gods.

BULLETS

PONCHO TIME? Hockey borrowed something from basketball.

I'll allow it.

This is too random. Some randomness in a tourney is fun. Without it there's no point in playing. Too much randomness and the format is clearly broken, with annually unsatisfying champions that have no real claim to being the best team. This is too random:

After going 12-0 against No. 4s in the first three years, No. 1s are 31-21. A No. 4 seed has won at least one game against a No. 1 in each of the last 13 seasons. Since realignment came about, No. 4 seeds have won eight of 12. …

In the case of those four seeds that became national champions — Yale in 2013 and Providence in 2015 — they were the last teams in the tournament. Providence qualified by .0002 RPI points over Bowling Green in 2015. This year, Duluth was the last team in by .0001 points over Minnesota. In any other year, UMD would've been a No. 4 as well. However, BU, Princeton and Michigan Tech winning their conference tournaments changed all of that.

Air Force turtled against SCSU and got lucky, like they did against Michigan some years back. The prevalence of blocked shots and super high save percentages makes that strategy pay off way too often; the sport should take radical steps to increase scoring, so that individual games are more indicative of who's actually better at doing hockey.

Stayed out of the box! Four power plays against on the weekend. One fairly badass goal from Northeastern and that's it. Given the margins here any more would have been disastrous.

But it was rough against BU. Per College Hockey News, Michigan was out-shot-attempted 63-31 at even strength. M helped bridge that gap by blocking almost a third of BU's attempts (19); BU only blocked 6 of Michigan's. Michigan benefited from the randomness this year. Hooray.

I take solace in the fact that Michigan played ND dead even this year and it didn't seem like the Irish were ever able to lock Michigan in their own zone like BU did, even when they trailed in both games of the Michigan sweep.

If Michigan does get OSU that's… sort of okay? 0-5 on the year is far from ideal, but the playoff outing was just about even at 5v5, and even though Michigan was swept in multi-goal games in late January they had huge ES Corsi advantages in both games. (55-31 and 43-23.) I ain't scared of those guys.

Hughes. Before this season my personal ranking of defensemen I've seen play for Michigan went like this:

  1. Jacob Trouba
  2. Mike Komisarek
  3. Zach Werenski
  4. Jack Johnson
  5. Jon Merrill

Hughes is flying up the list despite not even being drafted yet. He's… #3? I think I'd take him over Werenski. His absurd skating nullifies most of his size deficiencies…

…and late in the year he's learned what he can do at this level. He's still a bit wild and will turn the puck over in a bad spot a couple times per game, but that's because he's trying—and largely succeeding at—stuff that nobody else has the ability to even attempt. Here's an excellent twitter thread highlighting some of the things he did in the BU game.

Etc.: Michigan, those loveable underdog scamps. Berenson watched from the stands.

Comments

Hockey Preview: Boston University, NCAA Regional Final

Hockey Preview: Boston University, NCAA Regional Final Comment Count

Brian March 25th, 2018 at 12:34 PM

1023_boston_university_terriers-alternate-1999THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT #8 Michigan (21-14-3) vs
#15 Boston U(22-13-4)
WHERE Underground Printing Center
Worchester, MA      
WHEN 4 PM
LINE Michigan 55% (KRACH)
TV ESPN2

yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip!    

THE US

Michigan managed to stay out of the box long enough for their 5v5 superiority to tell, but it was a hell of a thing getting there what with the third-period goal from Northeastern that tied the score at 2-2 and set the stage for Michigan's traditional 3-2 playoff OT loss. But one bad leg-lift from Cayden Primeau and Cooper Marody's five-hole shot with under five minutes left sent them through. Hooray plinko!

THE THEM

It's us? Sort of? Like Michigan, BU was idling a couple games under .500 for much of the year before a late breakout got them to the tourney. Like Michigan, there are several players of great interest to the NHL on the roster—BU has three first-round picks and certain top-ten pick Brady Tkachuk. But the comparisons start diverging there.

BU's upset of top-seeded Cornell is welcome news if you believe ranking systems like Pairwise and KRACH; it's less welcome if you want to compare NHL draft picks. BU continues to be the Kentucky of college hockey, stacked with five-star prospects (if anyone bothered to rank college hockey prospects) and beset by puzzling swings in performance. BU had to win the Hockey East playoff title to even get in; they would not have been an at-large and only made it up to 15th by winning said title.

BU is probably the most talented team in college hockey, and went 12-8-4 in conference play. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Some of this may just be bad luck. BU's possession numbers are on par with Michigan's but a 7.6 shooting percentage at even strength has held down their numbers substantially. NHL statheads look at shooting percentages in the same way Kenpom acolytes now talk about three-point percentage defense: mostly random and begging to return to the mean. But usually when they're talking about this they're talking about a specific player playing one season. In BU's case, they've had a team-wide low shooting percentage for all four years that College Hockey News has advanced stats on. It looks like a coaching issue. 7.6 is low even for percentage-challenged BU, though.

9940522_web1_nhlnotebook-jan0618-2

Jordan Greenway is one of 7 NTPD alums on the BU roster

As a result none of BU's top guys have gotten to a PPG except sophomore Dante Harper, who was knocked out for the year in early January. The remaining top guns are Tkachuk (8-22-30), Jordan Greenway(12-21-33), Bobo Carpenter(20-15-35), and Shane Bowers(17-15-32). From there it again drops off to guys scoring a half PPG or fewer. The forward corps has been somewhat disappointing.

BU's made up for it with a number of excellent offensive-minded D. They've gotten 30 goals from their blue line this year, a quarter of their total and the most in college hockey. Sophomores Dante Fabbro (a first round pick of Nashville) and Chad Krys (a second round pick of Chicago) are dangerous puck-movers to keep an eye on.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Michigan will have a disadvantage against just about any team in a penalty-filled game, but despite the buckets of talent BU possesses this game will be close-ish to even. BU's penalty kill isn't much better than Michigan's at 79%, 44th nationally. Their power play is good—15th—but not in Northeastern's class and just a few percentage points higher than Michigan's. Staying out of the box is job one for this team for as long as they get to keep playing; in this game it's not also jobs two and four.

GOALIE

BU's played first-round pick Jake Oettinger virtually the whole year; his Lavigne-esque .918 save percentage is also Lavigne-esque in that there's a huge gap between his even strength %, which is .932, and his PK %, which is .851.

THE KEYS

STAY OUT OF THE BOX. Just one of these this time.

Thunk BU's top line. Michigan's top line held Northeastern's big line to nine even strength shot attempts and got off 19 of their own in a shocking display of dominance. BU isn't quite as dependent on their top guys as Northeastern was, but that'll still go a long way towards a victory.

Quinn Hughes vs everybody. Hughes was the best player on the ice yesterday, and has been the best player on the ice for most of the past couple months. He has not yet turned this into boxscore numbers that match his impact. Now would be a good time for that.

PREDICTIONS

are stupid

Comments

Hockey Preview: Northeastern, NCAA Tournament

Hockey Preview: Northeastern, NCAA Tournament Comment Count

Brian March 23rd, 2018 at 4:49 PM

northeastern-rankingsTHE ESSENTIALS

WHAT #8 Michigan (20-14-3) vs
#9 Northeastern (23-9-5)
WHERE Alumni Association Of The University Of Michigan Center
Worchester, MA      
WHEN 4:30 PM Saturday
LINE Michigan 52% (KRACH)
TV ESPN News

they're actually #9

THE US

Hello. It's tournament time. Hockey tournament time. If you don't recall what this is like, jump out of a plane with a backpack that might contain a giant middle finger instead of a parachute. Eat fugu prepared by a squeaky-voiced teenager. Play Plinko for your soul.

The team is not just happy to be here, I'm sure, but I am. Michigan was 8-10-2 halfway through the season and I was not even bothering to check their Pairwise; a 12-4-1 run later and Michigan isn't just in the tournament but a two seed. Managing that without second round pick Will Lockwood is all the more impressive.

Michigan's special teams are terrible and they're not exactly puck-dominant yet and Kyle Connor isn't walking through that door, but they're here and this tourney is dumb and this year that's the way we like it. So bring on the bouncing pucks and 24-year-old sophomores. Let's go.

THE THEM

This is already a banner season for Northeastern what with the Huskies' first Beanpot win in 30 years and only their sixth tourney bid in program history. They've done it on the back of an explosive top line and killer power play; the 1,000 foot view here is that Michigan is playing a doppleganger of the Motte-Compher-Connor team from a couple years back.

Top scorer and Hobey favorite Adam Gaudette even has a certain Kyle Connor air about him:

Those power play goals from an absurd angle are very Connor. Both players have the ability to lift the puck even while in tight and can get a one-timer off in virtually any situation. Gaudette's 30-30-60 in 37 games isn't quite Connor's 35-36-71 in 38, but it's… uh… not bad.

Pairing Gaudette with a Hensick-esque puck wizard in Dylan Sikura

…is a good time. The third member of Northeastern's big line, Nolan Stevens, isn't as explosive but still put up a 24-17-41 line. These guys are assassins on the power play, with 35 of Northwestern's 43 PP goals on the season. They are essentially 100% responsible for Northeastern's PP's 27% success rate, which is third nationally.

That power play is a huge threat and is likely to be the reason Michigan loses this game, if they do. But if Michigan can either stay out of the box or miraculously survive multiple PPs unscathed, they should have an advantage 5v5. Michigan's top line of Calderone-Marody-Dancs has just six fewer even strength goals than Northeastern's assassins; the Huskies have been outshot in half their games this year and are below 50% in Corsi; KRACH greatly prefers Michigan's schedule strength (13th vs 36th).

Northeastern doesn't get a ton from their lines 2-4. Freshman Zach Solow has a 5-21-26 line built largely on six points in a season-opening series against Sacred Heart and his status as the fifth guy on the top PP unit. He has seven points on the season that were even strength and not against Atlantic hockey. From there scoring falls off into the 0.5 PPG range. Lines two and three have a lot of 5-8-13 seasons and the like. Michigan should have an advantage there when the Slaker line is on the ice.

On defense, Jeremy Davies is a puck-mover who is the lone D on the top PP. He's got a 6-28-34 line; the other notable guy is sophomore Ryan Shea, who was a fourth-round pick in 2015.

GOALIE

Double whammy here as Northeastern's goalie has an edge on Hayden Lavigne. Also he's Keith Primeau's son, making some of us feel very old. Cayden Primeau has a .932 save percentage, which is significantly better than Lavigne's .910. The matchup is closer at even strength, where Lavigne has a .925 to Primeau's .936.

THE KEYS

STAY OUT OF THE BOX. STAY OUT OF THE BOX. I THINK THIS IS FAIRLY SELF EXPLANATORY.

STAY OUT OF THE BOX. LOUDER FOR THE FOLKS IN THE BACK.

Unleash Quinn Hughes. Hughes has emerged into the kind of player who can dominate a game, and it's safe to say Northeastern hasn't seen anything like him this year, because nobody has. Hughes coulda shoulda won the Ohio State game but rang the bar twice and narrowly missed another goal. Michigan's players are fairly prosaic outside of Hughes and he's the best shot at unlocking a team that doesn't give up a ton of goals.

STAY OUT OF THE BOX. PLZ

PREDICTIONS

are stupid

Comments