2018 Frozen Four Preview Comment Count

NastyIsland April 4th, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Last time Michigan faced Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament [Patrick Barron]

After the Michigan preview, there will be a breakdown of the opposite game in the Frozen Four. I’ve asked Adam and MGoHockeyReference Anthony Ciatti to give their takes, as well. Anthony and I also recorded a podcast that previews the Frozen Four.

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

Michigan vs Notre Dame Corsi Numbers

Corsi Table

Game 1

Game 2

Game 3

Game 4

Michigan

61(17)

45(17)

33(15)

63(28)

Notre Dame

49(17)

41(21)

49(21)

68(20)

That’s a bunch of 50/50 games. All four games were very close. The third game was a bit tilted towards the Irish because Michigan had a third-period lead and sat back and protected it. The rest of the games were all decided by one goal. Both teams are very good, well-coached, and super even. The series is 2-2 this year. Game 5 is now winner take all.

Notre Dame Preview

Team

PWR

Corsi Rank

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Record in last 5 games

Michigan

8

22

18%

75%

7

3

2.76 (Lavigne)

.909 (Lavigne)

4-1

Notre Dame

2

45

23%

89%

6

2

1.91 (Morris)

.945 (Morris)

4-1

Things Michigan Needs to Do Against Notre Dame:

1. Stay. Out. Of. The. Box. Again. And always. This will be the key for Saturday’s game, should Michigan be so fortunate to advance. The Irish have scored on Lavigne six times this season; five of those were on the man advantage. As long as the tournament is called similarly to the way that it was in the Regional round, Michigan should be alright.

2. Don’t Get Caught. This really has not been a problem in quite a while for Michigan. The defense has actually been very, very good and extremely disciplined on rushes. Again, though, Michigan should have an edge in even-strength chances. Due to that, they cannot afford to even that out by giving up too many OMRs.

3.Keep On, Keepin’ On. Michigan has played very well since that first game against Wisconsin in the B1G Quaterfinals. They’ve been sound defensively, they’ve been effective with multiple scoring lines, and they’ve played to their strengths with individual players (i.e. letting Hughes create). Pearson and co. have created effective plans and the players have executed them very well. Michigan needs to just continue playing at the level that they’ve set over the last few weeks. There’s no reason to think that they shouldn’t.

[After THE JUMP: final thoughts on M vs. ND, then our take on OSU vs. UMD and general thoughts on the Frozen Four]

Final Thoughts: I feel good about this. Michigan has controlled play at even strength in all four games against the Irish. Notre Dame has made most of their hay on the power play, but Michigan has not taken as many penalties in the last few games. Also, there have not been as many penalties called over the first couple of rounds of NCAA Tournament.

If that continues on Thursday, Michigan should be in great position. Yes, Cale Morris has been fantastic, Jeff Jackson is an amazing coach, and the Irish defense has been pretty tight all year. However, I expect Michigan to have the majority of the possession time and Quinn Hughes is such a difference maker. Also, Notre Dame has played four really tight 50/50 games and squeaked though each one. And…we owe them a Frozen Four ousting for Denver.

Adam’s Take: I also feel good about this, and there's a solid foundation here to support that. Michigan was coming off of a disappointing loss to Bowling Green in early January (a team that actually ended up being decent) when they came up against what appeared to be buzzsaw in Notre Dame just four days later. Michigan ended up winning Corsi both of those games and showed the first signs of what they would be this season. 

Notre Dame doesn't have the dynamic forwards that will get Lavigne going side-to-side with regularity, assuming ND doesn't get too many power play attempts.This also plays into Michigan's hands considering their growth defensively, as well as their propensity for finding secondary scoring at the right time (see: Nick Boka's dagger against BU).

Anthony’s Take: After looking at the even-strength numbers in their previous matchups, I am a little less confident in Michigan's chances than I was before. ND took it to UM at even strength twice, and there were two close games with UM never having a significant edge. Couple that with the difference in goaltending and I would probably downgrade UM from what I thought was a slight favorite back to 50/50. ND definitely has not been the same team in the last two months that they were for the rest of the season, and I think that is why this is more of a 50/50 matchup than the results of the games themselves.

The one thing I really like in UM's favor is that ND does not have any pure scorers or high-end talent. UM will have the two best skaters on the ice, and there is a good bet Hughes gets 25 minutes or more. That could tilt the game and I think it will happen, which is why I think UM will win. This game will be close and low scoring.

(3) Minnesota-Duluth vs (1) Ohio State

Team

PWR

Corsi Rank

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Record in last 5 games

Minn-Duluth

12

5

24%

83%

4

3

1.98

.924

3-2

Ohio State

4

14

24%

89%

3

4

2.09

.925

4-1

David’s Take: This one should be fun. While 12th in PWR, Duluth was inches from missing the tournament, but also inches from being 9th. They’re a talented team with a fantastic coach, as well. We’ve seen OSU too many times, this season, and know just how good they are, as well…especially after punking the defending champs, 5-1. Neither team is flush with superstars, but they’re deep, they don’t beat themselves, and have dependable goaltending. I am leaning OSU in this one, if for no other reason than they are just so darned good at every aspect and still find ways to score enough goals to win. At this point, these games kind of become coin-flips. While the home crowd helps the Bulldogs hang around, the Buckeyes most likely find a way to make it to Saturday.

Adam’s Take: I'm think that OSU will win this one, but Duluth having essentially a home crowd gives me reason for pause. I know there's been a fair amount of roster turnover (mostly for Duluth) but OSU was the better team for 2/3 of their first-round matchup in 2017. I like Ohio State's top line and their defense and their goaltending, though there's definitely some confirmation bias here because I've seen them and I think they're good, therefore they're going to win. Duluth's Hunter Shephard will likely have to pull this one out if Duluth is going to win, and his 1.95 GAA is evidence that he might just be able to do it. Even so, I see this as a one-goal OSU win.

Anthony’s Take: Strangely enough, I think this game will have a fair amount of shot attempts despite both teams having good defenses. Both teams have been able to generate high shot attempts against quality opposition.

Duluth graduated a lot from their Frozen Four team last year (six players from that team played AHL or NHL hockey this season), but the freshmen they have are excellent. Their record seems to reflect a team breaking in a high number of young players, but their results have steadily improved.

OSU is steady and my pick to win it all if I had to make one. They have great numbers in their recent games and are on a great two-year run, much like Duluth and Notre Dame. I favor age and experiece in this matchup even though I generaly lean toward talent. I just think OSU will be tough to crack and Duluth will be loose enough defensively for one of OSU's good forwards to capitalize. I haven't looked forward to a college game that UM wasn't playing in like this one for a long time.

I pick OSU. It likely will be close but I could see the game getting away from Duluth under the right conditions.

Overall Tournament Thoughts.

David: All four teams are worth watching. This final mini-tournament is going to be fantastic because you’ll get quality hockey from everyone. I don’t think there is a blowout coming. All four teams can win it and while I probably fancy OSU to have a BIT of an advantage, it’s all pretty evenly split. You have three of the top eight teams in the country and a home-state favorite who is the new best team in Minnesota. All things being equal I think Michigan bests Notre Dame and Ohio State steadies Minnesota-Duluth. OSU will probably be favored over Michigan if they make the final, but can you beat a team six times in a year? Michigan vs Ohio State? For a freaking National Championship? I’m not sure it gets much better than that!

Adam: [Narrator voice]: It doesn't. I'm also predicting the M vs. OSU final that David just did, but I really don't know who wins that game. On one hand, Michigan has seen these guys five times already and the staff will know what wrinkles to insert to keep OSU off balance. Plus, the two OSU games from November don't have much predictive validity because of how different Michigan is now, particularly defensively. On the other hand, OSU found ways to score on Michigan at even strength, which should stop any Michigan fan dead in their tracks. 

My overall takeaway from this tournament is that the future is blidngly bright for Michigan, and that's because of player development. The coaching staff took a group that seemed to have mid-tier talent and milked the most out of it, to the point that the DMC line was asking Pearson is they could go against Northeastern's two-Hobey-finalist top line so that they could shut them down. Any team that can get their best offensive talent to buy in to their defensive responsbilities to that degree is going to go far beyond anyone's reasonable expectations, and it's been fun to have a team we cover be that team.

Anthony: I love these matchups, especially the OSU/Duluth game. It is going to be a terrific night of hockey. Michigan can definitlely win the whole thing, and I wouldn't peg their chances at less than 20%, which is pretty good for a final four of all very good teams. Drawing ND instead of the other teams is, for me, the best possible matchup.

I don't like the Duluth matchup for the same reason I did not like either the Northeastern or BU matchups: playing against real talent that will play at the next level is a little scary for me considering the makeup of this Michigan team. I just don't think they match up well agaist high-end talent.

I would prefer that Michigan get a chance to slay the dragon once and for all and take out OSU in the final, as it would be nice redemption for their 0-5 record against the Buckeyes this season and a good way to end it. From a hockey standpoint, I think the familiarity with OSU is an advantage for UM in this situation, as MIchigan is slowly figuring the Buckeyes out, and I would think they can if they play on Sunday. Beating a quality team four times in a row (MIchigan was not a quality team when they played in November) is very difficult to do.

I said months ago Michigan would go as far as they could until either their PK or a Lavigne meltdown stopped them. They have proven to date that they can mitigate those things from happening, so my main hope for the weekend is that the shoe does not drop, as those are the biggest factors that could hold UM back. Other than that, they are right there with these three other teams.

Comments

bklein09

April 4th, 2018 at 11:02 AM ^

Welp I definitely won’t be watching the championship if that happens.

ND winning the title will be annoying but fine. They are a great team with great coaching, and it will be well deserved.

OSU getting a title will also be deserved, but them getting one in hockey will be a bit painful since it’s been 20 years for us now. If they beat us in the title game it will suck even more.

I guess what I’m saying is, let’s win the whole damn thing!!

stephenrjking

April 4th, 2018 at 10:23 AM ^

It's all there in front of us. Yet this is unquestionably all just bonus hockey. To even make the tournament was an impossible dream.

Michigan-UMD is my personal nightmare. Amsoil Arena is 5 minutes from my house. One of the couples in my church has held season tickets to UMD hockey since the 1970s (they're great about this, btw, and offer me tickets on occasion). 

Time to get back into game-face mode. The Frozen Four is our birthright, and it's time to win that tenth banner. 

oldhackman

April 5th, 2018 at 1:53 PM ^

To Hell with Notre Dame.

Ahhh...never gets old.

I don't want to get ahead of myself becauise we could lose by 3 goals tonight, but winning the whole thing with our first win in 6 attempts against the Buckeyes would be oh so sweet.  Common sense they would be confident about playing us, but I can't believe they want any part of essentially tryng to flip and get heads for about the 4th straight time...

truferblue22

April 4th, 2018 at 11:22 AM ^

It's been 20 years since we won a national title in a revenue sport. I'm tired of waiting. Let's Go

 

 

Wow, just looked. It was 20 years ago today, in fact. 

Kevin13

April 4th, 2018 at 11:38 AM ^

I also think it will be a UM-OSU final and Michigan gets the monkey off thier back against OSU this year and wins it all.  UM hockey is back with a statement this year and a nice run of dominance.

Save Us Mel

April 4th, 2018 at 11:45 AM ^

If we played like we did in the Regionals, I think we take down Notre Dame.  OSU is better than Minnesota Duluth and I expect them to win.  That sets up an epic rival final.  It's really tough to beat a good team every time you play them, especially 6 times.  It reminds me of the 1993-94 season.  One of the best hockey teams Michigan has had beat Lake Superior all 5 times they played in the season and CCHA Championship.  But, LSSU took out Michigan in overtime, in the Regional Final, on their way to a National Championship.  It was really frustrating to be better than your rival all season, but lose the one game that counts most.  Let's hope that's the feeling OSU has Saturday night. 

ToledoWolverine

April 4th, 2018 at 11:47 AM ^

Definitely playing with house money, but to hell with it, go big or go home.

Also, not to threadjack, but I was digging around the OHL draft and it seems that 3 of the top ten projected picks are Michigan commits. I’m thinking probably not the last time Mel has the boys in the frozen four, just sayin.

stephenrjking

April 4th, 2018 at 12:16 PM ^

1. That's not a threadjack. 

2. You're wrong, though. It's not 3 of the top 10. It's 4 of the top 8.

Mel is cleaning up. I don't think all of these guys will stick. In fact, I think Mel is planning for them not to--this may be a combination of aggressive recruiting with "make us your college option" for guys who still have a good chance of choosing the OHL. 

Mel has something like 36 commits right now. There's a mix of top prospects with mid-range guys who need USHL seasoning; he's building a roster to hit the sweet spot between great NHL prospects and career college guys, so that when NHL prospects leave early it's part of the plan instead of a gut-punch and the team is prepared for it.

If some of the NHL prospects actually make it to campus for a year or two this has the potential to work brilliantly. In the new college hockey there are a lot of teams built with older players, and there are a couple of big-name teams (Minnesota, BU, Michigan) that typically build with NHL draft picks. I think Mel is trying to forge a path melding both.

And if it works, we could be looking at a new glory age.

AJDrain

April 4th, 2018 at 12:01 PM ^

I think the home crowd + more NHL talent will put them over the top. They also have a handful of guys who were in the Frozen Four last year. And as a whole, UMD and OSU are very similar. Both have real good powerplays, good goalies, score about the same amount. In an evenly matched game, I lean the team with the intangibles. 

stephenrjking

April 4th, 2018 at 12:18 PM ^

UMD is actually a young-ish team, but yeah, they're pretty talented. They worry me--they looked great down the stretch until they threw up a couple of clunkers in the NCHC tournament, but otherwise they've been hot. My views on what the matchup would mean are above.

They'll have the balance of the crowd, yes, and they'll get more if they make the title game, but I don't think it will be a factor in the outcome. The X will not exactly be Yost for away teams, and Michigan has played there before.

Kevlar319

April 4th, 2018 at 6:45 PM ^

UMD has become the best team in MN over the past 15 years. Coaching & recruiting local kids has paid off immensely. Kids have grown up watching UMD beat teams like UMTC (gophers) & UND (NoDak) consistently. Duluth has gone on 7+ win streaks against these teams, which is unheard of in past. Pair that with the only National Championship in school history in 2011 (against Mich too); lost last year tho. It’s easy to see why UMD is the top tier school for recruits.

CaptainSane

April 4th, 2018 at 9:49 PM ^

I would agree with this, all of the other Minnesota schools (except maybe Bemidji, but even they have a recent Frozen Four appearance) have basically caught up to the Gophers in terms of talent, and a lot of Nothern MN kids prefer to play at Duluth these days.

 

Also can't forget realignment, and how poorly the Gophers fanbase and alumni reacted to that. I've been in the Twin Cities for over two years now and when you talk to Gopher fans it is almost guaranteed that they will complain about leaving the WCHA. I've been to Mariucci twice and the building is pretty dead, and a lot of that has to do with lack of enthusiasm for B1G Hockey. The schools that left the WCHA for the NCHC have fared far better in terms of adapting to it, and I'd argue even the teams that went from the CCHA to the new WCHA have fared better. Michigan fans didn't like it at first but I think they've grown to accept it, but Gopher fans aren't there yet.