Grind Time

Grind Time

Submitted by Brian on February 15th, 2011 at 2:56 PM

2/11/2011 – Michigan 3, OSU 2 – 18-9-4, 15-7-1 CCHA
2/12/2011 – Michigan 2, OSU 1 – 19-9-4, 16-7-1 CCHA

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MGoBlue

As with the basketball team, no grand soaring narrative bits as the hockey team did what it needed to do against Ohio State. They did in in the way they had to do it if they were going to do it. They further established themselves as a pretty good team that's obviously not great. They're going to have to deflect their way to glory.

On Friday an elderly gentleman sitting next to my friend said "there's just something missing with this team" out of nowhere—he was bothered—and my friend said "scorers" and that led to a conversation about all the various ways in which scorers are fun to have. I didn't participate. I sat there and thought "AAARGH" as Michigan almost scored on a dozen cross-crease passes. I've gone from missing TJ Hensick to missing Andy Hilbert to missing Brandon Kaleniecki, and now I'm missing all of them. Michigan can't score on two on ones, one-timers, or pucks that skitter a foot from the goalmouth*. At the same time their defense is probably the deepest and best Red's ever had. Watching them play is persistently odd, which is why old Midwesterners break with the strong and silent bit to complain to people they don't know.

The line revamp was interesting. Vaughn, Rust, and Glendening got the start on Friday, which was odd until it became clear that Red was matching that line against the Alberts/Somma line that provides the bulk of OSU's offense. That left Hagelin/Caporusso/Brown and Moffatt/Treais/Wohlberg against weaker competition. I'd say that's getting the bulk of Michigan's scoring away from top lines and allowing them to be more offensive minded, but Scooter scored his tenth of the year on Friday. So I can't. That's the idea, though.

It seemed to work for the Wohlberg line. All those guys have some skill and Moffatt and Treais seem to be taking steps forward as the season progresses. Treais is now doing a couple of noticeably skillful things per game and Moffatt has had at least one shift in the last four games where I thought to myself "that's a really good shift"; they were the only two to come out of the Miami weekend with any credit. Moffatt opened the scoring in the 2-1 win Saturday, with Treais getting the first assist, and if Michigan can keep them out there against third lines they should outscore on the regular.

Hagelin and Caporusso were a little awkward but got goals even if they rode up a defenseman's stick or were unscreened shots that went five-hole or… well… you know the drill by now. A lot of Michigan's goals are weird bounces of the puck. They win by getting more opportunities at weird bounces against teams that can't break down their D.

So it goes. Three series left (including the playoffs), two against bad to very bad opponents, two at home, a tourney bid all but assured—feels like biding time until Michigan gets an opportunity to reprise their phoenix act from last year.

*[For those who don't remember Kaleniecki, imagine a 5'9" Thomas Holmstrom. This about sums it up:

brandon kaleniecki

I'm not sure he ever scored a goal from more than three feet, but despite that he always hit double digits by the end of the year. The definition of a mucker. Also he scored this very silly goal.]

Pairwise Update

With a couple weeks left in the regular season it's now feasible to look at the PWR with an eye towards its final incarnation. This is where I'd go into the individual comparisons and fish out which were gone and which were flippable but mfan_in_ohio has already done so.

The upshot: Michigan's only lost three comparisons irrevocably and has at least a slim shot at the rest. Realistically, comparisons against BC, Denver, and a few others are longshots dependent on a precise set of results Michigan has no control over. The reasonable best-case scenario is to move up from 9th to 6th or 7th, snagging a two-seed and removing any chance Michigan would play North Dakota or some other high-power WCHA team in the first round.

This year's a weird one as far as desired seedings go. Yale and Union are doing very well nationally—even schedule-obsessed KRACH likes them—but the ECAC hasn't had a national contender in a decade and I'm not sure how I'd feel if Michigan ended up eighth and got bracketed with Union with (presumably) Yale to follow. I don't think I'd like it much. Even if Yale is playing weak competition they're the top scoring team in the country by a half goal and are outscoring opponents by 2.12 goals per game. That's a lot of goals per game. A schedule argument only goes so far when KRACH likes you without even considering the fact that you're not just beating teams, you're bludgeoning them.

Non-bullets and stuff

For the record. This is my 12th year at Yost and while I haven't been to every game I've been to the vast bulk. I've never seen a three-for-three night at Score-O before. Can anyone recall the last time that happened?

Conference race. Michigan is a point behind ND after they swept Bowling Green. Miami took four points from WMU and is tied with M but both of those teams will spend their games in hand. Despite being a point back Michigan should feel they've got a good chance. This weekend Michigan gets Western at home; ND gets Ferris on the road; the next weekend Michigan gets Northern on the road as ND plays a home and home with Western.

Where did they come from? Usually opposing fans are limited to the parents section and maybe a pocket or two in the endzone. That was the case Friday, but on Saturday there were lots of OSU fans—probably more visiting fans than I've seen since MSU was in its Mason heyday. Where did they come from? Why did they only show up Saturday? Should I carry around a voice recorder just in case this happens again so I have proof of the things that come out of their mouths?

Aggressive. OSU's coach was very aggressive when it came to pulling his goalie. Both nights Heeter left with about two minutes left and stayed out the rest of the game; OSU didn't score but didn't get scored on either. I've been bugging my buddy about this for much of the year when opponents get an opportunity: if you're down one and you get a power play with 3 minutes left or whatever, shouldn't you pull the goalie?

Pateryn: erratic. Greg Pateryn is probably driving the coaches crazy, as he's alternating Llewellyn-like aggression at the blue line that gives up odd-man rushes with great passes and backchecks.

Brown: scores. Also guh. I wasn't sure Brown's major was a good call but Yost Built had the benefit of replay and said it was "obvious," so okay. In the immediate postgame Red said he hadn't seen it but had "heard it was a legitimate major penalty in college. You can’t do that." Also, the night before I thought Brown was definitely getting the gate for his other boarding/charging/general naughtiness, so if that played into the refs decision that's understandable.

Chris Brown: please stop doing this. The naughtiness, not the scoring.

Elsewhere

Caporusso gets famous because of his love doctor bit. Michigan Hockey Net assembles pep band mp3s. Maize n Blue Nation captures the incessant Blues Brothers-ing.

Yost Built covers the weekend in depth and raises an excellent point:

I'm starting to think that you could make a damn fine case for Shawn Hunwick as the first team All-CCHA goalie. He's third in wins, despite playing 7 fewer games than Pat Nagle and three fewer than Mike Johnson. He's second in GAA to Connor Knapp, second in save percentage to Will Yanakeff (who has only played in 9 games), and tied for first in shutouts. I could see giving it to Nagle as he's put up killer numbers and has barely gotten two goals per game of support, but Hunwick has been really fantastic for the Wolverines after a slow start (and it's not like we've given him a ton of goals lately either).

That's amazing. Red said Hunwick was the starter point blank before the weekend and after saving 55 of 58 shots he's done nothing to change that.

Unverified Voracity Meant To Do That

Unverified Voracity Meant To Do That

Submitted by Brian on August 12th, 2010 at 1:54 PM

Help a blog out. So Blogs With Balls is trying to get in on the next South By Southwest and needs internet help. If you could register with SWSX and then thumb-up the BWB topic idea, this would go some small distance towards helping this happen. Do it to it.

Turner return broached, unlikely. In the aftermath of Justin Turner's decision to transfer there have been rumors about a potential decision to reverse that decision once his family talks him off the ledge:

[WTKA's Sam] Webb says Turner spoke to his mom about the decision but not to other members of the family, some based here in Michigan.  They are coming up to talk to him and "see what was on his mind" including discussing "even up to and including whether or not he would entertain the thought of going back."

However, Webb thinks that outcome is unlikely. Even if Turner did decide to return his apparent lack of conditioning would probably make him useless this season.

It's a deke. Srsly. Michigan Hockey Net has been posting some old Michigan hockey clips of late; here's Brandon Kaleniecki breaking out the greatest deke in the history of hockey:

"He's got two and that was a weird one!"

And fin. Michigan goes in front of the infractions committee this weekend, at which point the final stories about practice (practice we're talking about practice) get written and attention returns to the stuff happening on the field. I have the vague hope some of the stories will have the perspective Bruce Feldman($), a guy who's travelled the country and seen the inside of dozens of programs, does:

If you've been to more than a handful of college campuses in the past decade or talked to any football coaches, you'd know that what the school was accused of are probably the most minor major violations you'll ever hear about.

Many folks cringe whenever they hear the excuse of "Well, everybody does it," but the reality here is this stuff goes on with top programs all over the country. Quite frankly, there's been much bigger offenders on these rules than what the NCAA has apparently caught in its net.

While it sucks that Michigan got dragged through this, nothing in the final report suggests anything except institutional incompetence and confusion about rules most people are confused about. My favorite evidence of the latter is the NCAA official site declaring the rules "nebulous," "difficult to understand," and "even harder to track."

Feldman is a guy who brings some authority when he says similar violations would be turned up just about anywhere; if he's right about that the main difference between Michigan and other schools is the attitude of the local paper.

Other numbers. Freshmen were omitted from this site's Fall Roster Overanalysis since they don't have a track record, but I did mean to link to Ace's focus on those freshmen. Most guys come in about where you'd expect except maybe the ever-expanding Richard Ash. At this rate, in two years we'll get to find out if having Norman Bombardini clog the middle is a good idea.

With Ace's post and a helpful reader sending a long a saved copy of the spring roster I  can highlight a couple additional interesting weight changes:

  • Stephen Hopkins is down from a Wisconsin-like 236 to a still-pretty-Wisconsin-like 227.
  • Christian Pace put on 21(!) pounds since the spring roster came out. I don't think it's possible for all of that to be good weight but if he's already 280 he should be physically ready to play center in the Big Ten when Molk graduates.

Sauce: weak. Les Miles defending the Elliott Porter oversigning fiasco:

He noted that Porter’s scholarship offer was still good, just postponed a semester. He said if somebody made the same offer to one of his sons, they would “certainly be disappointed that day, but recognize that, long-term, it’s not a bad thing.”

Miles said grayshirting can benefit players who could use time to allow their bodies to mature. “He might take his time to come in shape and to benefit his body and compete,” he said.

This is also called a "redshirt," except in that case you get to go to school like you were promised over a year ago. It's a simple choice between not signing that extra kid and taking the chance at going into 2010 with 83 or 84 scholarships or taking a kid who's been living in a dorm for a month and telling him GTFO.

Also note the headline on this thing "Miles defends grayshirt rule," as if there's some crazy NCAA mandate that requires him to dump Porter. The paper is attempting to move the responsibility for the thing from Miles to an NCAA bylaw. Since that bylaw is "you can only have 85 scholarships," fail.

(HT: Get the Picture.)

And so forth and so on. The cases of Noel Devine and Demar Dorsey aren't totally comparable—Devine never got into serious trouble—but his background was "Botswana-level" according to EDSBS:

When Devine was 3 months old, his father died of complications from AIDS.

When Devine was 11, his mother died of AIDS.

Devine's maternal grandmother assumed custody, but he often clashed with her and he eventually moved out. He moved in with the parents of one of his friends.

Devine was a witness to a shooting late in 2004 in which one of his closest friends was killed by a shot to the chest.

Devine had two children in high school in North Fort Myers, Fla., a girl and a boy, born seven months apart to different mothers.

When Devine was a high school senior, many programs backed off because they thought he'd never get into school; WVU seemed a little sleazy when they went after him and got him on campus. Now he's a senior-to-be forgoing the NFL—where his stock is at maximum since he's not going to grow three inches this year—for a degree. Will that degree have the general aura of jockishness? Almost certainly. Is it a better outcome for him than travelling the wilderness as a JUCO? Also almost certainly. I wish the media narrative about poor kids on football teams getting into trouble was less about scolding "win at all costs" coaches and more about what kind of outcomes various programs were achieving with the marginal players they acquire.

In related news, Demar Dorsey still isn't on Louisville's roster.

Maybe holistic and stuff. I'm pretty sure that Doctor Saturday is just reading the media zeitgeist when he suggests that the only thing that can repair the Big Ten's image problem is a national title, but he highlights a fact that's been true at least since Jim Delany's spectacularly ill-advised open letter bashing the SEC:

The Buckeyes' coast-to-coast run at No. 1 in 2006 in calamity, along with their surprising return to the top in '07, the two losses that still loom over the conference like a giant monolith that periodically drawls "S-E-C! S-E-C!" and has no input to receive data such as "the Big Ten and SEC have split their two annual bowl tie-in games 10 to 10 over the last decade."

When you bring this up to someone wearing SEC pajamas, they invariably respond with "bowl games don't matter except those two Ohio State humiliations." The Big Ten has been a bit down of late since Michigan and Penn State can seem to be good at the same time and USC has managed to lose a game against a Pac-10 also-ran yearly, but reports of the conference's demise have long been greatly exaggerated.

Etc.: A Steve Sharik comment on defending four verts with a three-deep gets front-paged at Smart Football. Holding the Rope UFRs Wisconsin's offense against Miami. I was planning on ranking the ten teams of the aughts for Of The Decade but MATW beat me to it so just consider that post part of the series. I didn't see this but a couple of different places on the internet are reporting that on Hard Knocks last night a Jets coach told Donovan Warren "if you'd played like that last year Michigan would have won some damned games," which is funny but not true. Michael Buckner appears in yet another story about Michigan's infractions—is there no other man on the planet with a law degree who can speculate darkly about possible outcomes?

And my "Michigan football" youtube subscription turned up… 60 Seconds With Taylor Lautner. Who is apparently in "Twilight." When I was a kid our vampire shows were full of smokin' hot chicks, not moody boy-toys. /get off my misogynist lawn.