2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament Preview

2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament Preview

Submitted by NastyIsland on March 22nd, 2018 at 9:15 AM

2018Bracket

Hello Plinko, my old friend death. [uscho.com]

After the Michigan preview, there will be a breakdown of the remaining seven games, starting with the opposite game in Michigan’s Regional. I’ve asked Adam and MGoHockeyReference Anthony Ciatti to give a take as well.

Probabilities. If you’re looking for some game-specific numbers, Ed Feng has released his predictions based upon his new rankings.

The Field

Northeast Regional

(3) Cornell, (8) Michigan, (9) Northeastern (13) Boston University: What a crazy regional for Michigan. Cornell ain’t played nobody never but has only given up 49 goals in 32 games. BU has more NHL talent than the Arizona Coyotes, but might be coached by Also Herm Edwards. Northeastern never has the puck but has two Hobey finalists and an ace freshman legacy goalie. So, they’re Notre Dame with goal-scorers. Oh, and the #3 and #4 seeds are playing in their backyard. What even. Can we do this, please? 

(8) Michigan vs (9) Northeastern

Team

PWR

Corsi Rank

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Record in last 5 games

Northeastern

9

37

27%

82%

7

6(5)

1.88

.932

4-1

Michigan

8

22

18%

75%

7

3

2.79

.910

4-1

Things Michigan Needs to Do Against Northeastern:

1. Stay Out of The Box. Every week, this is #1. In past weeks, its been a direct reflection of Michigan's penalty kill. While that is still the case, Northeastern has a top-3 power play. Gaudette, Sikura, and Stevens have a combined 35 of their 75 goals for the season on the man advantage. Yikes. Matching penalties can be acceptable, but giving the Huskies more than three power plays could easily mean a short return to the NCAA Tournament for the Wolverines.

2. Wisely Use the Last Change. Being the #2 seed instead of the #3 seed makes Michigan the 'home' team (yes, I am also laughing). Because of that, the Wolverines will get the last change. This could/would mean being able to match-up the Hughes/Cecconi pairing with Northeastern's version of the CCM line: Adam Gaudette, Dylan Sikura, and Nolan Stevens. While this could temper some of Hughes's ability to go forward, tell me two other defensive options that would be preferred on the ice against two Hobey Baker finalists. 

3. Win via Depth. Once you get past the top line for the Huskies, the scoring drops off rather suddenly; their fourth through sixth forwards have five, five, and seven goals on the season. The two post-DMC lines for Michigan aren't exactly explosive, but Slaker and Norris have had a productive second half. Also, the Pastujovs and Becker have turned up their output, as well. Given each team's possession rates, Michigan should be able to control the puck, and getting some depth-scoring will go a long way to offset Northeastern's top line.

Final Thoughts: Man, I don't know. This was the mid-seed that I was hoping to avoid. Northeastern has two Hobey Baker finalists, a top-5 freshman goalie, a wicked-awesome power play, and a ridiculous top line. They also have a poor possession rate, little scoring depth, and a weakish schedule. Michigan might have the more complete team, but Northeastern has higher peaks in key spots and looks like they might be a tough matchup for the Wolverines. If Lavigne plays towards his higher end, though, Michigan has a good chance...assuming they can keep the game at even strength.

Adam’s Take: Things look pretty bleak in some key spots for Michigan, but I think they've got just enough going their way to squeak out a win. As David mentioned, having the last change will help match top pair against top line; this isn't likely to neutralize one of the best top lines in the country, but there's comfort in putting out a solid pairing that features a defenseman who excels at playing keepaway. One caveat to my prediction: they only squeak out said win if they take fewer than three penalties. Michigan can probably kill one or two peanlties and use the second and third lines to make up the difference at even stregth, but more than three penalties and Northeastern creates a chasm Michigan can't bridge.

Anthony’s Take: I watched the Beanpot and came away thinking NU was a good team.  Their high-end talent and goaltending is something I hadn't seen a lot of this season and I did not want Michigan to draw them in the tourney. Northeastern is 16-4-4 since the start of December, so they are equally as hot as Michigan  They had a goal differential in conference of over 1.5 goals per game, and were best in their league in both goals for and against.

Obviously I think UM can win this game as it is a one-game knockout, but I would favor Northeastern. For Michigan to win they will have to avoid bad penalties and high-danger scoring chances. Northeastern has the special teams and goaltending advantage so that worries me. Unfortunately I think UM's achilles heel (PK and Goaltending) will be their demise here.

 

[Predictions for the rest of the field after THE JUMP]

it's the most wonderful time of the year [JD Scott]

Michigan Hockey Rooting Guide: Week 24

Michigan Hockey Rooting Guide: Week 24

Submitted by NastyIsland on March 8th, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Cutler Martin has never shied away from crushing Buckeyes [Bill Rapai]

Corsi Table

 

Game 1

Game 2

Game 3

Game 4

Michigan

57(17)

53(19)

43

55

Ohio State

69(25)

57(21)

23

31

Hmmmm. What can we extract from all of this? Michigan is 0-4 against the Buckeyes this season. During the first couple of games, Michigan was in the midst of its defensive crater. As you can see, in the second series in Columbus, Michigan had a much better possession rate. In Game 3, they gave up two power play goals (surprise!) and at least one odd-man-rush goal. The final game was pretty even, but Lavigne had a woofer or two. Also, Michigan has scored on Sean Romeo six times in four games. Eeeeeeck. So, where are we now?

Ohio State Preview

 

PWR

Corsi

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Michigan

7th

23rd

18%

76%

8

3: Marody, Calderone, Hughes

2.78 (Lavigne)

.910 (Lavigne)

Ohio State

4th

16th

24%

91%

3

4: Jobst, Laczynski, Weis, Joshua

2.08 (Romeo)

.925 (Romeo)

Ohio State is really good. They do not give up goals; they’re 4th overall in goals/game. To pair with that, they’re 11th in scoring goals (Michigan is 7th!). So, they put pucks into the net, they keep pucks out of the net, they convert on the power play, and they do not surrender goals on the penalty kill. Also, Sean Romeo is Cale Morris Lite. What is this, football?

So, what is there to do? I don’t know, man. It’s encouraging that Michigan was able to control play in the last couple of games down there. They’re going to need to play their best, most well-rounded game of the year. Also, as much as I disagree with the single-game semi-final format, hooray that Michigan doesn’t have to beat them twice!

[After THE JUMP: qualifying Michigan's most well-rounded game of the year and a look at PWR and relevant teams around the country]

Michigan Hockey Rooting Guide: Week 23

Michigan Hockey Rooting Guide: Week 23

Submitted by NastyIsland on March 1st, 2018 at 8:00 AM

WHAT? [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Corsi Table

 

Game 1

Game 2

Game 3

Game 4

Michigan

58(24)

69(23)

38(14)

52(30)

Wisconsin

45(15)

53(22)

56(18)

34(15)

Michigan has a 1-2-1 record against Wisconsin this year. They’ve dominated a couple of games that they lost due to trailing on the scoreboard and Wisconsin sitting back (Games 1 and 4). They also gave away a point in Game 2 with a goal in the final minute of regulation. Michigan won Game 3 thanks to great (!!) special teams play. So, what does that mean? Well…

Wisconsin Preview

 

PWR

Corsi

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Michigan

10th

18th

15%

76%

7

2: Marody, Calderone

2.61 (Lavigne)

.912 (Lavigne)

Wisconsin

24th

12th

18%

81%

7

2: Wagner, Frederic

2.89 (Berry); 2.97 (Hayton)

.903 (Berry); .894 (Hayton)

During their first series, Michigan was in the midst of their defensive crisis. They also were rotating goalies. Both of those issues seem to have mostly been sorted out. In their last meeting, Hayden Lavigne had his worst game of 2018, though.

Everything about these teams seems to be relatively even. Michigan's overall offense and defense are statistically slightly better than Wisconsin's. Wisconsin’s Corsi and special teams play are slightly better than Michigan’s. I would give Michigan an edge in net, though, especially since there seems to have been a sharp uptick in quality of play in the second half of the season for Hayden Lavigne; he has a .915 save % since January 5th.

[After THE JUMP: how to beat Wisconsin, a look at the rest of the conference tourney, and ways Michigan can stay in (or get bumped from) the big tourament]

Michigan Hockey Rooting Guide: Week 21

Michigan Hockey Rooting Guide: Week 21

Submitted by NastyIsland on February 16th, 2018 at 10:49 AM

Ol’ Dex wants to know what to watch [Bill Rapai]

I know Brian just did a Bracketology Update on Monday, so I decided to look at more of the specifics of what/when/who to watch this upcoming weekend.

Notre Dame Preview

 

PWR

Corsi

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Michigan

15th

17th

16%

77%

7

2: Marody, Calderone

2.76 (Lavigne)

.905 (Lavigne)

Notre Dame

2nd

47th

20%

88%

6

3: Evans, Oglevie, Burke

1.75 (Morris)

.950 (Morris)

Things That Michigan Will (Probably) Need to Do to Get Points This Weekend:

1. Stay Out of the Box. This is where Michigan lost both games against the Fighting Irish last month. They didn’t take a ton of penalties (only five combined), but Michigan gave up three of their four total goals surrendered with ND on the man advantage. When the game was at even strength, the Wolverines played Notre Dame pretty even, and maybe even outplayed them a bit at Yost.

2. Don’t Get Caught. Michigan has done a better job lately of staying home defensively and covering for defensemen (Quinn Hughes) who skate the puck deep in the zone. Michigan is probably going to control the puck and get the majority of attempts. When that is the case, it is very important not to gift your opposition goals by getting too aggressive and giving up odd man rushes. Staying out of the box and defensively sound will give the Wolverines their best chance to grab points this weekend. Defensemen, pinch with care.

3. Finish. Just get the puck in the net. Over the last couple of weekends, Michigan has created some chances and given guys some opportunities, they just have not finished. This is the season's do-or-die series. It is time for Marody and Calderone–Michigan’s go-to scorers–to finish their chances.

Final Thoughts. I like how this series sets up for Michigan. As Brian stated earlier this week, they’re probably going to need a win this weekend to be in comfortable position in the Pairwise ranking. Michigan gets their Game 7 at home on Sunday, so Friday night kinda becomes found money. If they’re able to get something in South Bend, all of a sudden Sunday becomes a great opportunity. If not, they’ll have the friendly confines of Yost to fall back on for an all-or-nothing chance.

[After THE JUMP: dissecting the Big Ten standings and nationwide rooting interests according to Pairwise]