Notes From A Hockey Exhibition

Notes From A Hockey Exhibition

Submitted by Brian on October 5th, 2017 at 12:15 PM


[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Michigan walloped a bad CIS team on Saturday, beating Western Ontario 10-1. The Mustangs were not a good team last year and seemingly came to Yost with less than a full complement of skaters; things did not improve with one injury and three ejections. But Michigan hockey has played a CIS punching bag annually and they haven't always looked like that. Since 2009-10, with tourney teams bolded:

  • Michigan 6, Windsor 2, shots 33-16 M
  • Michigan 4, Western Ontario 2, shots 39-29 M
  • Ontario Tech 3, Michigan 2, shots 56-28 M
  • Michigan 7, Windsor 3, shots 43-30 M
  • Waterloo 2, Michigan 1, shots 35-22 M
  • Michigan 5, Wilfred Laurier 2, shots 52-24 M
  • Michigan 8, Toronto 1, shots 52-12 M
  • Michigan 2, Windsor 0, shots 36-32 M

Beating up on Western Ontario doesn't mean Michigan Is Back, but the trend there is clear. All but one tourney team doubled up the opposition in shots; all but one team that missed was in a relatively competitive game, give or take the goaltending. Not clobbering Western Ontario would have been a real bad sign. Michigan avoided that.


Feelingspuck? Doesn't sound right. Anyway: Michigan felt like a much-improved hockey team. Odd-man rushes, which happened seemingly three times a period during the last few years, were restricted to one early two-on-one and a breakaway when Quinn Hughes's stick broke. Meanwhile Michigan's breakout impressed with the diversity of approaches they took and their success at breaking the WO forecheck.

The forward corps is still short on talent, with two or three guys who would ideally be third-liners on the top two lines and a questionable bottom six. On the other hand, the return of Cutler Martin to defense—where I've always liked him—gives Michigan seven defensemen ranging from competent to excellent. Michigan has almost never had the kind of defensive depth they have this year, and with a more organized team supporting them and two good goalies backing them up Michigan could find success as a grind-it-out outfit that wins games 3-2 and 2-1.

Nobody wants Michigan hockey to look like that long term but beggars can't be choosers this year. If they get to the tournament, that's how.

[After THE JUMP: player-specific takes and a feel for the season.]

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Minnesota, Part Two

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Minnesota, Part Two

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on March 8th, 2017 at 1:03 PM


[JD Scott]

Friday, March 3, 2017

Michigan 5, #5 Minnesota 3

1st period

Cammarata Goal

Mich 0 Minn 1 PPG 13:21 Assists: Bristedt & Gates

A deflected pass turns into a loose puck and that in turn becomes an opportunity for Minnesota to cycle the puck in the corner. Warren gets his stick into the passing lane and is a fraction of a second from knocking the pass away. The 2016-17 season is, however, a cruel mistress, so the pass gets through and the Minnesota skaters switch spots.

mich minnes fri 1-1

Gates skates into the circle and turns to open up for a pass as Bristedt loops around at the wall. Luce is watching this and understandably becomes preoccupied with saddling up next to Gates.

mich minnes fri 1-2

Cammarata sees the cycling along the wall and steps away from the crease. Boka had just dumped him to that side of the net two frames earlier and has since watching the cycling along the wall and quickly checked behind him to see if a skater was in position for a cross-ice one-timer.  A good check, but one that sees him lose sight of Cammarata.

Bristedt doesn’t lose sight of him; he sees Luce take away Gates while the easier pass to Cammarata at the side of the net simultaneously opens up.

mich minnes fri 1-3

Cammarata reaches as far across as possible upon receipt and flings a shot in before Nagelvoort can get his leg extended.

As Sean Ritchlin said on the broadcast, you’re either going to tuck the puck in far-side before the goalie can push off the post or you’re going to get the goalie to kick it and create a rebound for that backside skater who’s been handing out in the faceoff circle (or the one in the slot).

mich minnes fri 1-4

[Much more after THE JUMP]

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Wisconsin

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Wisconsin

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on December 14th, 2016 at 2:38 PM


[Bill Rapai]

Friday, December 9, 2016

Michigan 4, Wisconsin 7

1st period


UM 1 UW 0 PPG 09:49 Assists: Lockwood & Allen

Michigan goes away from the 1-3-1 they’ve been using most of the season and aligns in the umbrella with Kile working the point. Kile happens to have the puck, swinging it to Lockwood in the right faceoff circle.

m wis fri 1-1

Lockwood takes his sweet time with the puck, as well he should. He’s looking for something to develop, and that something ends up being the defender taking a knee when he thinks Lockwood’s about to shoot. This opens up a pass at the red line for Allen, and the pass can be made with confidence because 1.) the nearest defender is on his knee and 2.) the rest of the defense is occupied with other Michigan skaters and won’t be able to challenge the pass aggressively.

Allen sees the seam between defenders, and with said defenders collapsing on net Piazza is left unchecked to the goaltender’s left. Allen threads a nice pass through the lane.

m wis fri 1-2

Piazza one-times it, leaving Berry with no chance of stopping a shot for which he has to get all the way across the crease. Michigan does a nice job here of moving the puck; once it’s on Lockwood’s stick and then moved behind the net, the goaltender has to lock the post and the defense shifts away from Piazza.

m wis fri 1-3

[Hit THE JUMP for some weird bounces]

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Boston University

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Boston University

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 17th, 2016 at 11:00 AM


[James Coller/MGoBlog]

Friday, November 11, 2016

#18 Michigan 4, #4 Boston University 0

1st period


UM 1 BU 0 PPG 10:04 Assists: Piazza & Slaker

Slaker wins the draw cleanly back to Piazza. He surveys options in front of him and sees that nothing’s developed yet, so he starts to move laterally with the puck; you can see that Lockwood’s already on the same page and moving to his left.

m bu fri 1-1

Slaker cuts to the middle of the ice to give Piazza a passing option to the right, while Lockwood loops behind Piazza and presents an option to the left. You can see in this screen cap that there’s only one defender involved in the play, and since Slaker gets in front of him he now isn’t sure whether he should stay in place, carry Slaker, or start to his right to pick up Lockwood.

m bu fri 1-2

The defender decides to shove Slaker and then stay in place, which meansh he has to dig in and sprint once he sees Piazza pass to Lockwood.

m bu fri 1-3

Lockwood has all the time he needs to make a decision and a move, and he decides that he wants to wrong-foot a shot from the top of the circle and hope that the traffic in the shooting lane screens the goaltender.

m bu fri 1-4

The puck grazes the side of the BU defender at the bottom of the faceoff circle and slightly changes direction, and BU’s Jake Oettinger has almost no chance at stopping the shot.

m bu fri 1-5

[After THE JUMP: moooooore goals (also, more goals for the other guys)]

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Union

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Union

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 11th, 2016 at 10:44 AM

Friday, October 7, 2016

#11 Michigan 3, Union 4

1st period


UM 1 Union 0 PPG 08:54 Assists: Slaker

Slaker wins the draw, but it isn’t clean. He has to jostle for position and eventually gets over the other center, and as Lockwood and his defender lift their sticks there’s a lane for Slaker to pass back to Piazza.

m union fri 1-1

Piazza glides for a second while he assesses what’s in front of him, then decides to try for the far-side top corner. Sakellaropoul has a long enough time to see what’s coming and whiffs on the shot.

m union fri 1-2

[After THE JUMP: breakaways, screens, and whiffs]

NHL Draft Recap: Michigan Edition

NHL Draft Recap: Michigan Edition

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on June 27th, 2016 at 1:00 PM


it was one or the other this weekend for Michigan's 18-to-20-year-old hockey prospects

An eight-man recruiting class will enter Michigan this fall ready to patch some of the holes left by this spring's exodus. Though there are no players the caliber of Kyle Connor or Dylan Larkin in this class, it seemed almost certain that five of the eight would be drafted in this past weekend's NHL Draft.

Almost, but not quite. Only three of Michigan's eight incoming freshmen (and an addition 2017 prospect) were selected in the draft despite projections that had the two who went undrafted, Griffin Luce and James Sanchez, safely above the bottom of the draft.

Scouting reports for hockey prospects are typically short and published irregularly, so I thought I'd use the boom in available scouting materials to look at what you can expect from Michigan's newest draftees' games, as well as where they're likely to fit when they suit up for their first game in a Michigan sweater this fall.

Will Lockwood, RW

Third round, 64th overall- Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Steel vs USA National Team Development Program

[Rena Laverty/USNTDP]


Lockwood's 13-20-33 scoring line in 59 games with the USNTDP is fine, I suppose. He's not going to be a revelation, but he should put up a fair but not-at-all sterling stat line in his first season. SB Nation College Hockey's Chris Dilks hints at that toward the end of his scouting report while also making him sound a lot like a third- or fourth-liner:

What I Like:

-High Motor

Lockwood plays with a lot of energy and effort. He's a very consistent player that always gives 100%. He creates opportunities for himself by taking away time and space from the opposition and forcing mistakes

-Good Skater

Speed is Lockwood's best asset. He's got light feet which gives him a very quick first step  and above average straight-line speed. He doesn't always use that speed to his greatest advantage, but it could be a pro-level tool if he learns how to use it better.

-Finishing Ability

Lockwood wasn't a huge scorer for the NTDP this year, but when he got opportunities, he showed a nice ability to finish off plays. He'll have to show he can do that more consistently, but matched with the right linemate that can set him up, he could be a much bigger scorer.

Dilks goes on to mention Lockwood's inability to create with his hands and win puck battles; you can work on winning puck battles, but relying completely on speed is a bit of a red flag in terms of NCAA point production.

Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst agrees with Dilks' assessment while also noting that Lockwood played against good competition and shouldn't have much of a learning curve at Michigan:

Lockwood is near the top of a decent list of draft-eligible sandpaper forwards thanks to excellent straight-line speed and a fearless mindset when engaging opposing skaters. He gets most of his points from a crash-and-bang style that would normally compliment line mates of the finesse variety. Lockwood, however, played most of the season with similar players, yet he was easily one of the NTDP’s most reliable and consistent in that regard.

Hockey Prospectus' Ryan Wagman sees something in Lockwood's physical game that other scouts did not and has a generally less optimistic take:

He is a good penalty killer with a decent wall game. Although well undersized, he is generally a pretty physical player and a frequent hitter. Committed to the University of Michigan, he has low upside, but plays a coach friendly game.

Elite Prospects does a nice job collecting player rankings from around the internet, and you can see Lockwood's all over the place. A few sites had him in the 70s, but others had him as low as #197. Most sites that don't rank expected him to be a mid-fourth round pick; no matter which site's rankings you prefer, he was taken higher than expected.

At Michigan:

There's going to be plenty of room to move up with Michigan losing five of their top six forwards. I'd keep the Warren-Marody-Calderone line intact and make that the top line; Lockwood could play on the second line with Alex Kile on the opposite wing and centered by…uh, someone's going to have to learn how to play center in a hurry. Lockwood plays a similar style to Warren and could hit 15-20 points as a freshman.

[After THE JUMP: two more commits get picked]

Unverified Voracity Schedules Self Behind Eight-Ball

Unverified Voracity Schedules Self Behind Eight-Ball

Submitted by Brian on 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 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.