CSKA Ann Arbor

CSKA Ann Arbor Comment Count

Adam Schnepp April 12th, 2016 at 11:01 AM

[Sherman/MGoBlog]

Yesterday I was thumbing through a notebook I use for interview prep and found a projected line chart I wrote last summer for the 2015-16 hockey season. It had Tyler Motte, JT Compher, and Alex Kile on the first line; I had Kyle Connor on the second. I chortled under my breath and moved on. It was only in doing research for this piece that I rediscovered how long- two months(!)- the lines were arranged as such. It's easy to forget that Michigan started their season without Connor, Compher, and Motte together, with the trio we'll affectionately remember as the CCM line not seeing game action until the beginning of December.

Connor, Compher, and Motte launched a four-month-long assault on the Big Ten and the Michigan record books that produced numbers that will be tough to come across in the near future. They also produced the kind of moments that become seared into your sports consciousness; sports memories tend to be grounded in moments, not the chronology of events. I still remember walking up State Street after some game during the 2007-08 season and marveling at Kolarik and Porter the whole way back. I don't remember which game, but I remember exactly what it felt like to be a witness to something special. I liked Michigan hockey before 2007-08, but the credit for why I care enough to want to break down every goal scored over the course of every season falls squarely on Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik's shoulders.

That feeling was back this year. For the first time in at least eight season we weren't just watching great players play, we were watching players play perfectly off of each other and accomplish things that caused that voice in the back of your mind to pick up decibels until it's practically screaming at you, reminding you that this is something to hold on to, something that doesn't happen every season.

The numbers give context to the memories: Connor led the nation in scoring and goals, Compher finished second in scoring nationally and led the country in assists, and Motte finished fourth in scoring nationally. Motte scored a goal in 12 straight games, a Berenson-era record; Connor ended the season with a 27-game point streak, another Berenson-era record. Connor scored more goals than any other freshman in Michigan history while finishing second in all-time freshman points. Compher had the second most assists of any junior in Michigan history. Compher, Connor, and Motte were three of the top 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker, which is just the third time in the award's history that one school has placed three players in the top 10. (Michigan also did it in 1994, when Steve Shields, Brian Wiseman, and David Oliver were finalists.)

Michigan's roster next year will look different, and it's not just because it's missing two guys (and possibly a third) who scored in droves. The way they played together is what set the CCM line apart. It's something that you don't see in hockey very often these days; creativity and communication can create beautiful plays, but the system a player is a part of has to allow the player to take some liberties for that to transpire. Michigan's system is well suited for that, and the results speak volumes not just about the system but about the way the abilities of three players blended to create a scoring threat that was nearly unstoppable.

Igor Larionov wrote a piece for The Players' Tribune that I've seen passed around NHL circles again recently, and the crux of his argument is that players are told to over-simplify their game at too early an age in order to eliminate risk. In his mind, this stifles creativity and leaves only a handful of players in the NHL who think the game three or four moves ahead and then act on those suppositions. In his words:

Our philosophy was about puck control, improvisation, and constant movement. Now, the game is all about “north-south,” chip-and-chase. We moved side-to-side and swooped around the ice looking for open spaces. A backward pass was just as good as a forward pass. You didn’t have to see your linemate. You could smell him. Honestly, we probably could have played blind.

Michigan had three boundlessly creative players on the same line. Connor's accuracy and quick release made him the perfect finisher, always open thanks to his linemates' ability to maintain possession and positioning near the net. Compher had some of the finest olfaction of any Michigan skater I've seen, seemingly throwing the puck around blindly only to put it precisely on the tape of his teammate's stick. Motte could turn and lift a puck from a sharp angle in such a way that the puck seemed to explode off his blade; he was the perfect netfront presence.

With a few exceptions, these three showed that you can be responsible defensively while also being creative offensively, and in the process they crafted moments that transcended box scores. To borrow from Red Berenson by way of Dickie Moore, you can't buy that kind of fun.

[After THE JUMP: I empty out my "CCM line" gif folder]

Comments

Exit Kyle Connor

Exit Kyle Connor Comment Count

Brian April 11th, 2016 at 11:58 AM

Not a surprise, of course:

Connor, the Hobey Baker winner in an alternate universe where college hockey is run by people who can count, had a monster freshman year with a 35-36-71 line. That kind of production isn't replaceable even if Michigan had another first-round forward coming in, which they do not. The CCM line is down to just one C, and at this point I kind of expect JT Compher to sign as well.

The remaining roster is fine, but if they do lose Compher it doesn't look like the kind of outfit that is going to be able to overcome the defensive issues that have been a constant the last five years; this year's edition had a line that scored like it was 1985 and they still didn't win the Big Ten.

Comments

This Week's Obssession: The Greatest Michigan Forward Since…

This Week's Obssession: The Greatest Michigan Forward Since… Comment Count

Seth March 23rd, 2016 at 2:15 PM

The Question: How does Kyle Connor compare vs. the Michigan forwards you've seen?

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Bill Rapai/MGoBlog

The Responses:

David: So, my first year of season tickets at Yost was my junior year in college, 05-06. I vaguely watched Michigan hockey in the previous years before, but I made a concerted effort to follow the team, game-by-game, during that 05-06 campaign. I went to a couple of games (and watched a few more on tv) during my first couple years and I remember them losing to BC in '04 and the Colorado College Collapse in '05, but my serious Michigan Hockey fandom began the following season. I just looked up a ton of stats from that 04-05 team and they scored A TON. Eight skaters had double digit goals and thirteen (!!) had 20+ points. Unfortunately, I'll have to let our resident old dudes talk about Tambellini, Hilbert, and Cammalleri.

From what I've seen, I think Connor has to be the best. Not only does his pedigree match up (torched the USHL), but his exquisite skill (see the GTG on Saturday) and sheer volume of production -69 points in only 36 games- exceed anyone else in the last decade (Hensick took 41 games to get 69 points).

My quick Top 5:

5. Carl Hagelin. Our favorite Swede never quite got to 20 goals and only once to 50 points. Hagelin was a terrific skater, a terror on the PK, and maybe the fastest I've seen at Yost. Just never hit Elite in terms of production. He's carving out a nice NHL career, though.

[After the JUMP: Comrie, Cam, Ort, Hagelin, Larkin, Porter, Hensick, Tambo…?]

Comments

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Big Ten Tournament Final

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Big Ten Tournament Final Comment Count

Adam Schnepp March 22nd, 2016 at 2:59 PM

Saturday, March 19, 2016

#20 Minnesota 3, #7 Michigan 5

1st period

MOTTE GOAL, MICHIGAN

MINN 0 MICH 1 PPG 09:33 Assists: Connor & Werenski

Werenski moves the puck to Connor as the rest of Michigan's power play works to establish position.

bttf 1-1

Connor holds the puck and the defenders all look like they're infested with lice, moving and twitching and adjusting and readjusting while Connor just holds and holds and holds a little longer. The defenders, especially the one nearest Connor in the faceoff circle, seem very worried about the cross-ice one timer to the opposite wing.

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That works to Michigan's advantage, as everybody just forgot about Motte in front of the net. Connor passes and Motte spins in a circle and shoots. Schierhorn stops the first shot, but Motte flips his own rebound into the top corner; he regularly puts the puck top shelf from angles that seem like it should be impossible to lift the puck.

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2nd period

COMPHER GOAL, MICHIGAN

MINN 0 MICH 2 PPG 01:31 Assists: Werenski & Connor

Werenski's pass for Connor hops over his stick and goes to the corner, but the puck's eventually reversed back to Werenski. He sees how bunched up and shifted the defense is and how open Compher is on the other side of the ice and makes the easy pass.

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When Compher receives the pass he has a wide open half of the net, but he can't settle it and doesn't regain control until where he is in the screen shot below. He throws a backhander on net that Schierhorn stops.

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Compher manages to stop quickly and chop at the puck, which is sitting in front of Schierhorn's pad. One of Compher's hacks lifts the puck up enough to get over his pad.

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[After THE JUMP: a comeback, an undressing, a tournament championship]

Comments

Unverified Voracity Schedules Self Behind Eight-Ball

Unverified Voracity Schedules Self Behind Eight-Ball Comment Count

Brian March 22nd, 2016 at 12:08 PM

Kind of a big deal. PG recruit Xavier Simpson won the Ohio Mr. Basketball award after averaging 27 points and 6 assists a game. You may remember that one Trey Burke won Mr. Basketball in Ohio, an award that comes with some heft. Recent winners include Luke Kennard, Burke, Jared Sullinger, William Buford, Jon Diebler, OJ Mayo, and someone named Lebron.

Both Beilein and Simpson welcome the Burke comparison:

"With me going to Michigan and seeing the success they had with [Burke]. What I'm hearing, from out of high school no one ever thought he would go to the NBA. And Michigan put the ball in his hand and helped him make the right decisions and get better as a player. That prepared him for the next level, so hopefully they can do that for me."

Simpson is a much higher rated recruit than Burke was, but I think we'll take Trey 2.0.

Let's stop doing the dumb RPI thing. College basketball RPI is broken. Broken things can be exploited, and the Pac-12 did that so successfully that they got a bunch of ridiculous seeds in this year's NCAA tournament. Those teams all bombed out of the tournament save Oregon, which got a one-seed everyone thought MSU had on lock. Ask the Spartans if that mattered, assuming you can keep a straight face while doing so. (You cannot.)

This was not an accident. In both men's and women's basketball the Pac-12 has made a concerted effort to game the RPI. It started with the Washington women's coach, and the league is so proud of it they've put up articles it on pac-12.com itself:

Neighbors’ work developing a mathematical picture of success for the Pac-12 inspired conference coaches to change the way their programs scheduled in the non-conference seasons and has strengthened the conference from top to bottom.

“It’s one of the most productive things we’ve done,” Close said. “The best part about this story is Mike’s selflessness, but also the coaches putting the conference above themselves.” …

“He came in with this huge packet, with color-coded graphs. The message was, ‘Everybody needs to get eight or nine wins (in the non-conference) and you need to play the best teams you can beat’,” Close said. “Everyone was brainstorming. Everybody understood this has to be bigger than just your team. We have to help each other.”

This worked, as the Pac-12's evidently mediocre teams got seeds they did not deserve. Meanwhile, a 15-3 Big Ten champion got a five-seed, and Michigan was relegated to a play-in game largely because the Big Ten didn't put anyone in the 50-100 range of the RPI. Some of this is the Rutgers effect. (Thanks, Delany.) Rutgers was a mandatory anchor on every schedule in the league. But some of it is the fact that the league is playing far too many voluntary games against Rutgers equivalents.

I complain about this just about every year. Four years ago I put a post together titled "How To Schedule In College Basketball" after a selection controversy between Drexel and Iona. What leapt out at me was Michigan's nonconference SOS. It was objectively much tougher than either of those teams but when it came to numbers it was barely better than Drexel's miserable schedule and far worse than Iona's mediocre one.

This is because Michigan fills out the bottom of their schedule with the very dregs of college basketball. Jason Lisk:

Then, you look at the non-conference. Michigan played Xavier, NC State, Texas, Connecticut, and SMU. That’s more top quality games then most programs played. But, from December 12 to December 23, they also played Delaware State, Northern Kentucky, Youngstown State, and Bryant. They won them by an average of 40 points. Each of those teams is at 275 or below in the RPI. Those teams are collectively 28-90 against Division I teams, and play against other low level teams (that whole opponent’s opponent’s record thing).

That’s killing Michigan.

How much?

If you just took out two of those games, and replace them with home games against mid-level MAC teams like Eastern Michigan and Toledo, the RPI goes from 66 to 55. With just that change alone. Heck, even if they lost one of those games (and they would be heavy favorites at home), the RPI actually goes up slightly. That defies logic.

For years I'd assumed this was a Dave Brandon thing. Towson is cheaper than Richmond, end of story. After Brandon's departure it's clear that John Beilein is the guy lining up Delaware State (#348 in Kenpom) and Bryant (#345) because he doesn't want the slightest chance at a loss.

This hurts Michigan and the Big Ten because the chance Michigan loses to the #200 team is also negligible. For example, per Kenpom Michigan had a ~94% chance to beat then-#203 Minnesota when the teams played at Crisler in January. Despite the very small gulf in likely outcome between a game against a bad team and an awful one, the RPI assigns very different values to those games.

The committee does attempt to see through these flaws, but everything is framed by RPI. Your RPI. Your record against the top 50 and top 100 in RPI. Conference RPI. Gaming the system clearly works; Michigan is doing the exact opposite of that. It just about cost Michigan a bid this year. It's well past time for the school and the league to figure that out and exploit it.

Precisely, good sir. Harbaugh on Sankey's Think Of The Children campaign:

“I thought it was fake outrage. I thought it wasn’t really real,” Harbaugh told Mike & Mike when asked his reaction to their reaction. “The moral high ground of the sanctity of spring break, that’s what people chose to use as their moral stance? I thought it was fake. I thought it was fake outrage.”

January February Middle Tennessee April. Pat Forde in the aftermath of MSU getting Giddy Potts'd:

Here’s what might also have played a part in Middle Tennessee’s calm reaction to shocking the world: the Blue Raiders knew they were no 15 seed. That was a joke, and part of a major choke.

By Michigan State, yes. But also by the NCAA tournament selection committee.

All hail MTSU, which put Murfreesboro, Tenn., on the map Friday. Its 90-81 upset of the Spartans is one of eight all-time victories for a No. 15 seed over a No. 2 seed – but Middle Tennessee never should have been a 15.

That’s on the committee.

The facts that Forde marshals for his argument are ridiculous. One: the winner of CUSA has never been seeded that low. CUSA used to have Memphis in it. This version of the CUSA had zero top-100 Kenpom teams. Forde cites the fact that CUSA was the #21 league at that very site without considering the fact that teams are not leagues. MTSU was not even the best 15 seed per Kenpom—that would be Cal State Bakersfield. The only teams in the tournament rated lower than MTSU above the 15 line were a couple of 14s.

MTSU was off by a seed line at most, which they promptly demonstrated by getting hamblasted by Syracuse.

Well, yeah. Kyle Connor left Penn State in a state of disbelief:

"I’m a firm believer that Kyle Connor is the best player I’ve ever played against and I even told him that in the handshake line,” Goodwin told reporters after the game. …

“[Connor] does everything very, very quickly,” Guy Gadowsky told reporters. “It’s amazing how he just gets himself into such an offensive advantageous position. I think it’s just what you can’t really explain that just makes him so darn good.”

After a few years of struggle against PSU, Michigan put the hammer down in 2016. They scored at least six goals in each of the five games, culminating in 7-1, 6-1, and 6-2 demolitions.

I mean I guess I'm not surprised. No idea if CBC News has the inside scoop on Kyle Connor but I'm not exactly expecting him back next year, and neither are they:

The focus on him is certainly justified and if Connor decides to leave school once his season wraps up (no decision has been made in this regard, though it would be a shock if he chose to stay at Michigan), signs with the Jets and eventually settles into the NHL game at the level that's expected of him, then let the good times roll.

I would assume that comes from the Jets' camp and indicates they intend and expect to sign him. I always think NHL teams are shortsighted to do this because the CBA accelerates free agency for players under 20; grabbing a kid at 19 is removing a year of team control at 27. But nobody seems to care for whatever reason.

Hockey incoming. NTDP forward Will Lockwood draws notice from NHL draft expert Kyle Woodlief, who names him a rising prospect:

Will Lockwood (U.S. NTDP U-18) — Showed lots of speed and was buzzing all over the offensive zone at last month’s Five Nations tournament, where he was one of the best U.S. forwards.

Lockwood is one of seven scholarship skaters* Chris Heisenberg shows as committed to Michigan next year; they are scheduled to lose two guys to graduation. Even if Connor, Werenski, and Downing** are all signing there's quite a logjam. Michigan has eight D this year and is set to carry nine next year even minus Werenski and Downing; they'll add an extra forward as well.

*[F Lukas Samuelsson is also listed but Michigan did not acknowledge him when they announced their incoming class. Generally that means the player is a PWO.]

**[Ben Clymer and Random Verb Guy were talking about Werenski and Downing like they were both out the door to the NHL after this year. Werenski we all expect to go; Downing hasn't been talked about much. I'm guessing they got word from someone or another and were impolite enough to repeatedly reference it on the broadcast because they can't talk about gritty grit heart for literally the entire thing.]

Etc.: More satellite camps: Dallas and Waco are on the table, with the Waco event a stop at Baylor's camp. That company that runs the summer soccer friendlies briefly listed Chelsea versus Real Madrid at Michigan Stadium on July 30th; it's since been changed to TBA. Harbaugh clinic notes.

Comments

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Big Ten Tournament Semifinal

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Big Ten Tournament Semifinal Comment Count

Adam Schnepp March 21st, 2016 at 5:02 PM

Friday, March 18, 2016

#7 Michigan 7, #19 Penn State 2

1st period

SHUART GOAL, MICHIGAN

UM 1 PSU 0 EV 10:35 Assists: Downing & Dancs

Dancs knocks the puck away from a Penn State player trying to clear and then bobbles it as he heads toward the corner; he’s only facing the blue line because he whiffed on the puck a second before. He sees Downing at the point, though, and passes before getting hit.

btts 1-1

Downing steps up and snaps a shot on net that Glen tries to pick off, but the puck goes hits his stick and then hits McAdam, who pushes the rebound aside.

btts 1-2

Shuart tries to push the puck under McAdam, but he makes the save. The rebound stays right in front of the net, and Shuart has a second-chance opportunity with a defenseman and the goaltender falling down.

btts 1-3

Shuart gets flips the puck over two fallen PSU players unimpeded. I’m a little surprised that Glen didn’t make any effort to get across and try to engage Shuart. A tenuous argument can be made that he was trying to cut off the path from the backside and make sure no one could cut directly to the front of the net in case there was a rebound, but I’d think he would slide across when it was clear that both his help was falling over and the puck was loose in front.

btts 1-4

[After THE JUMP: Kyle Connor gif after Kyle Connor gif after Kyle Connor gif. That’s not an exaggeration, he had a natural hat trick.]

Comments

Everything Fast, Everything Precise

Everything Fast, Everything Precise Comment Count

Brian March 21st, 2016 at 12:49 PM

3/18/16 – Michigan 7, Penn State 2 – 23-7-5, 12-5-3 Big Ten
3/19/16 – Michigan 5, Minnesota 3 – 24-7-5, 12-5-3 Big Ten, Big Ten Tourney champions

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[Patrick Barron]

It takes me a while to grasp what a hockey player is like. Part of that is just the game: most of the time even the best players are on the bench, and then there are ten guys trying to control a puck that bounces around. It takes time for a player new to college to establish what he's going to be, and then further time for me to figure it out. Like, I thought Dylan Larkin was a good player. I couldn't describe his game like I could describe Zach Hyman's. Hyman, a senior, was excellent in the corners and capable of bursting from the boards to the net-front with little warning. Once there he had a deft touch at the net front. Larkin… scored a lot.

Like Larkin the year before, Kyle Connor has put up points in buckets without having a distinct on-ice personality for much of this year. That has gradually changed as the season progressed and Connor kept scoring on one-timers from absurd angles, kept dropping saucer passes directly on his teammates' sticks. A debate about which Michigan player should be their primary Hobey candidate went from wide open to probably Connor.

In the aftermath of a Big Ten Tournament in which Connor scored a natural hat trick in nine minutes and left Eric Schierhorn in a heap of self-loathing with this…

…both the Hobey and personality issues have been resolved. Connor for Hobey, because he is an all-around offensive dynamo.

He is fast. Everything is fast. His skating is fast. His shot gets out fast and travels fast. He is precise. Everything is precise. His ability to hit the water bottle from one knee on a one timer is something I've never seen from a Michigan player, even Hilbert or Tambellini. Seemingly every game now sees a saucer pass that elevates itself a good foot off the ice and then lands perfectly flat on a teammate's stick.

On Michigan's rampant power play he calmly checked options high and across before sliding the puck to Motte at the side of the goal. The pass was not remarkable in itself, but the process by which Connor moved the defense around with his posture and the fact that at any moment he might do something Kyle-Connor-esque opened up an opportunity. This was the weekend when Connor went from a guy on an awesome line to the guy on the awesome line, and that's no slight to Motte or Compher. I mean, go back to that Vine and check the pass that got Connor the opportunity and who it's from. JT Compher is awesome. He's not the guy.

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

And so Michigan grabs a banner. As banners go it's not exactly a monumental achievement—it's on par with the GLI in games played. But it goes up in the Yost rafters anyway. More importantly, Michigan got another week further away from the alarming Ohio State meltdown. I'll take two even-strength goals allowed on a weekend. Two goals is more or less a shutout for this team.

Even when Minnesota scored three consecutive goals to take the lead on Saturday those felt like things that will happen in hockey games, and not an endless parade of unchecked opponents in the slot. Sorting out the signal from the noise in hockey requires a lot of feelingsball, and my feeling is that the team has responded to the OSU debacle with four of their most defensively responsible games of the season.

Extending that streak of games that don't make fans want to pull their hair out was more important than the actual trophy; mission accomplished. Having Kyle Connor definitively stamp his name on this season, nationwide, is a bonus.

Michigan enters the most bowel-rending postseason known to man firing on at least most of their many, many cylinders. It could all blow up in a second, because hockey. It could all blow up because this hockey team has many guns, some of which point at their own feet. It could blow up because the universe hates you. There are many ways in which doom comes in single-elimination playoff hockey. But if you squint and forget about two weeks ago…

Bullets

On the opposition. I haven't seen any Notre Dame hockey this year but at a glance they look like a typical Jeff Jackson team: fast, disciplined, slightly D-oriented. They score just over 3 goals a game (good for 15th)* and give up just over two (14th). They are reasonably good at everything and not great at any one thing. They're good-ish on the PP and good-ish on the PK. They spread their scoring out. Nobody's got more than 13 goals but six guys are in double digits.

As far as common opponents go, ND split with Penn State, Minnesota, and BU. They're just 19-10-7 but KRACH ranks their schedule difficulty 10th; Michigan languishes in 32nd. Both KRACH and RPI have this a game between #7 and #12, so Michigan got a slight break there—emphasis, however, is on slight. ND is a whisker behind Yale and Harvard.

Should be an exciting game. ND has a lot of draft picks and gets in your face on the forecheck.

*[Yes, the #15 O in the country is almost two goals a game worse than Michigan.]

Welp. Downing picked up a game misconduct for a crosscheck to the head delivered to a player who was on the opposite side of the ice from the puck and not even looking at him. That was his third of the season and brought with it a mandatory suspension from the title game; given his track record I wouldn't have been surprised to see another game added on for an incident that was pure violence without even the whisper of a legit hockey play.

At least that incident seems like a relapse by now. Downing got chippy late in those Ohio State games but so did a lot of Michigan players; when faced with games that were not inexplicable three or four goal deficits Downing's been even keel for the last couple months.

In his absence… Sam Piazza stepped in and Michigan didn't skip a beat. They even inserted Piazza next to De Jong on the nominal top pairing, which speaks both to Michigan's confidence in their D one through six and their confidence in Piazza—who also absorbed Downing's PP minutes—himself. And he's repaid that confidence, with a 1-5-6 line, a +7 rating, and zero penalties in 16 games. That is an incredible luxury to have as your seventh defenseman.

Getting more active. Both De Jong and Boka have been much more noticeable presences near the opposition's goal over the past few weeks. Michigan is doing a lot more rotation between forwards and D, which goes a long way towards making your cycle unpredictable enough to generate 5x5 chances. I still remember a vintage Minnesota team from a while back—the one on which Jordan Leopold, a defenseman, won the Hobey—that was terrifying specifically because they were the best at using their defensemen to generate 5x5 scoring chances. Michigan is not that, but I think they'll be in good shape next year as those two guys get older.

Good lord, the power play. Yes, I expect to score on every power play now. Michigan was 6/9 this weekend. (Nice.) They had excellent chances on two of the three they did not manage to convert; it is a machine unlike any I've seen at M. They lead the country, converting at 32%(!), and are 17/29(!!!) over their last six games.

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[Patrick Barron]

Mandatory attendance rant. There was nobody at this tournament even when Minnesota was there. It's embarrassing, and it's unnecessary. Michigan and Penn State averaged 97% of capacity this year and played in front of a few hundred people. A best two out of three series at Yost ends up with 40-60 times the attendance of this neutral-site farce.

There is no fixing this. Nobody but Minnesota fans and the odd Wisconsin fan will show in St. Paul. Nobody but Michigan fans will show in Detroit. The geographic realities of the Big Ten demand a return to home sites if anyone is ever going to show.

College hockey refuses to acknowledge this. Just yesterday the WCHA commissioner unveiled the "Big Idea". Prepare to be underwhelmed:

While the logistics, of which there would be many, still need to be worked out, the basic idea is to host all three conference tournaments for the WCHA, Big Ten, and NCHC in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area on the same weekend, and stagger the start times as much as possible to allow fans the opportunity to see as many games as possible. While not mentioned in the article, one rumor suggested all three conference tournament finals then being played on the final day of the season at the XCel Energy Center. The idea is to turn the weekend into a festival of college hockey for the city.

That's great for St. Paul, I guess. It's terrible for everyone in the Big Ten other than Minnesota and should be a non-starter. The idea that people who aren't interested in going to their own conference tournament will be convinced because teams they don't play against are also having a tournament is fanciful, and that permanently shuts out every Big Ten fanbase other than the Gophers. It's an idiotic idea. So of course:

The Big Ten seems the most interested at the moment, with B1G deputy commissioner and most hated man in college hockey Brad Traviolia admitting that is one of many potential options they will discuss and consider for the future, saying "We recognize that the attendance hasn’t been what we had hoped" under the current set-up.

College hockey is not big enough for neutral site playoffs other than the Frozen Four, period. I will never understand why they keep trying.

Comments

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Penn State- Part 2

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Penn State- Part 2 Comment Count

Adam Schnepp March 15th, 2016 at 12:09 PM

Saturday, March 12, 2016

#9 Michigan 6, #14 Penn State 1

1st period

CONNOR GOAL, MICHIGAN

UM 1 PSU 0 EV 06:27 Assists: Martin

Martin banks the puck off the boards and up for Connor, and you can see from how many defenders are low in the PSU offensive zone that there’s going to be an odd-man rush.

psu sat 1-1

As expected, an odd-man rush does develop, and it just happens to feature two of the highest scorers in the nation. Connor carries in and has Compher a step behind. Brooks is shaded toward Compher, and he has his stick in a position where he could feasibly take away the pass even if he doesn’t drop it.

psu sat 1-2

Connor then takes a couple of quick strides and Brooks realizes his only course of action is to lunge and stab at the puck. Technically speaking he did what he was supposed to in not allowing a pass to Compher; still, there are few things more terrifying than Connor streaking down the wing unopposed, so Brooks’ attempt to help doesn’t have a downside. McAdam gets beat over the near-side shoulder. For what seems like the hundredth time this season, look at that release. The puck comes off his stick so quickly that goaltenders at this level have and will continue to have an incredibly tough time stopping it; add his seemingly perfect accuracy and you can see why he has 30 goals.

psu sat 1-3

[After THE JUMP: the beauty of being on the right side of #chaoshockey]

Comments

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Penn State- Part 1

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Penn State- Part 1 Comment Count

Adam Schnepp March 14th, 2016 at 3:43 PM

Friday, March 11, 2016

#9 Michigan 7, #14 Penn State 1

1st period

Sturtz goal, Penn State

UM 0 PSU 1 EV 02:25 Assists: Glen & Goodwin

The puck’s careening around the defensive zone when Cecconi comes to close to gathering it, but a Penn State skaters swipes at it and knocks it toward the net. Sturtz fires a backhander that misses, hits the boards, and travels toward the top of the zone.

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As all of the Michigan defenders in the frame gravitate toward the puck, Sturtz slips in behind the defense and heads for the front of the net. Juha carries up the boards for a split second before dropping the puck back for Goodwin.

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Connor carries Juha to the top of the zone, so Compher comes over to the wall to cover Goodwin. This opens the middle of the ice, and Glen notices; he cuts underneath Motte and gets himself ready to receive a pass off the wall. Both defensemen step forward once he gets the puck, and no one sees that Sturtz is in Racine’s face.

psu fri 1-3

Goodwin releases a really strong shot without anyone close enough to alter it, and Sturntz, who’s still unchecked, tips it in.

psu fri 1-4

CONNOR GOAL, MICHIGAN

UM 1 PSU 1 EV 15:14 Assists: Compher

Juha sees that the forechecking pressure is soft, and he has time to think through his next move before passing. He decides his best outlet is up the boards, but his pass misses Kerr and is intercepted by Compher.

psu fri 2-1

Compher immediately dishes to Connor, who is cutting underneath Kerr. All three PSU skaters in the area jump in to defend Connor; he manages to outskate them all.

psu fri 2-2

Connor stickhandles once—just once!—and it causes McAdam to almost hit the ice. It seems almost like his muscle memory led him to do so, because he immediately bounces up and tries to push to his right. That’s the Kyle Connor Effect; he doesn’t even make a true move and goalies are worried to the point they’re getting themselves out of position before Connor’s even attempting to shoot. Look at Connor and you can see that this shot doesn’t come off a huge windup; he’s basically going to shovel the puck on net, but his release is quicker and stronger from that position than most everyone else’s in the nation.

psu fri 2-3

McAdam essentially falls over himself trying to do the aforementioned get-up-lateral-push-butterfly-again move.

psu fri 2-4

[If you don’t hit THE JUMP you’ll miss more Connor insanity and you’re smart, you wouldn’t do that]

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Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Minnesota- Part 1

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Minnesota- Part 1 Comment Count

Adam Schnepp February 29th, 2016 at 11:04 AM

Thursday, February 25, 2016

#20 Minnesota 2, #6 Michigan 6

1st period

KILE GOAL, MICHIGAN

MINN 0 MICH 1 EV 11:19 Assists: Unassisted

Cecconi picks up a loose puck in Michigan’s defensive zone and passes to Motte near center ice. Motte flips the puck to the opposite corner while Michigan changes. Collins picks it up and skates to the faceoff circle when he sees two Michigan forecheckers on their way. He puts on the brakes, takes a step back, and looks to make the outlet pass. He accomplishes the looking part but not so much the passing part; much like my golf swing, he picks his head up early and swings over it.

min fri 1-1

Kile picks up the loose puck and pulls it to his backhand. This forces the goaltender to hit the ice, and he does a nice job squaring to a backhander, should that be what Kile does (and, to be fair, it certainly looks like that’s what he’s going to do). Kile, though, somehow pulls the puck on a string back to his forehand, which leaves the goaltender flopping.

min fri 1-2

Kile’s able to slide the puck around Schierhorn’s pad, but it requires a deflection off of Collins’ stick to hit the net instead of going wide.

min fri 1-3

[After THE JUMP: a newfound appreciation for the overhead goal cam, and your weekly dose of mind-boggling CCM things]

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