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Brian December 10th, 2010 at 1:02 PM

michigan-state-dumb-logo Essentials

WHAT Michigan vs Michigan State
WHERE Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
WHEN 3:00 Eastern, December 11th 2010
THE LINE College hockey lines, junkie?
TELEVISION FS Detroit/Big Ten Network
WEATHER Mid-30s
20% chance of rain/snow

Michigan State

The Only Colors has a preview from a Michigan State perspective that's essentially what I'd write if I was going to put one together. After a decent start Michigan State endured an awful 1-6 stretch that's put them behind the eight ball in the league and the (hypothetical) pairwise.

The last couple weekends they've recovered to split in the Showcase and against a decent Ferris State team, but the losses of Petry, Tropp, and Rowe have been too much for a talent-deficient MSU team to overcome. As long as Comley's around the Spartans are going to be bad or very bad when they only have two seniors and four draft picks. Both programs have fallen off from where they were ten years ago for the Cold War, which was a season-opener in October that saw #1 Michigan State take on #4 Michigan, but Michigan's fallen back from dominant to very good while Michigan State has turned into Northern Michigan, except Northern never ends up tenth in the league.

There's a big gap in the goal differentials:

MSU: 42 GF, 46 GA overall (2.47/2.71 per game), 23/29 in conference (2.09/2.63 per game)
Michigan: 58 GF, 45 GA overall (3.22/2.50 per game), 38/26 in conference (3.17/2.17 per game)

Michigan's goal difference is about where it was last year (higher in conference but lower overall). Ours, on the other hand, has gone well into the red. This time, the records actually match the goal difference numbers, unlike last year where we finished 2nd in conference and Michigan was 7th despite a better goal difference.

The guy to watch is Brett Perlini, a seventh-round pick of Anaheim who's Michigan State's leading scorer with an 11-5-16 line. Big and talented, he's the kind of player Michigan's finesse defense might have issues with. Daultan Leveille is a first round pick of the Thrashers and while he hasn't lived up to that hype in three years at State he's extremely fast and is the Spartan best able to take advantage of the Olympic sheet. Derek Grant is Perlini's setup guy and an Ottawa draft pick; past that the Spartans have diminutive senior Dustin Gazely, who is all right and has 5-6-11, and a bunch of guys named Chelios who are marginal players. Shut down the Spartans' top line and they have very little else. The only D who gets involved with the offense is Torey Krug

Michigan State goalie Drew Palmisano is having an okay year. He's about average in save percentage; given what I've seen from him in the past I'm betting he's facing an inordinate number of good shots.

Michigan

I summarized the season to date earlier in the week and nothing's changed since then. To recap: Michigan isn't the team that went 10-10 before the break last year, but it's not the team that tore off ten straight to salvage an NCAA bid, either. It's a version of last year's team that's a little older and better. They spend most of the game in the opponent's end unless they're playing elite competition, get a lot of goals they don't really mean to score, and lack the top-end scoring star Red's teams have been built around for ages. When Berenson admits his group is "blue collar," you know there's a lack of flash. Yea, it is so.

They're still not bad or anything, but it doesn't look like this group is going into the NCAA tournament expecting to make a Frozen Four. Hoping, probably. Not expecting.

Hogan has earned the start this weekend, which may presage a shift in Michigan's goalie strategy long term. Two years ago Michigan split time between Hogan and Sauer, with Hogan taking over in the second half of the season. I wouldn't be surprised to see a repeat in the cards, with Hunwick getting a few games here and there.

Michigan has an advantage in that they've practiced on the outdoor ice (and Olympic sheet) the past week:

"Now we don't have to worry about the sun or the rain or wind or snow or bad ice or good ice. Now we can just worry about playing hockey," he said. "We know the environment, we know the scenario is unique, but I think the novelty is wearing off a little."

MSU will have one practice outside today.

Weather

You may notice the threatening chance of rain above. The temperature is excellent for December… unless it rains, in which case everyone is going to be thinking of the 2008 Northwestern  game and wishing it was 25. There are different forecasts at different sites. Weather Underground says there's a 20% chance of snow, which would be fine. The Weather Channel says a 30-40% chance of rain/snow, which would be miserable.

IANA meteorologist but it given the temperatures—barely above freezing and way colder in the cloud layer—and the dew point, which some guy on Yahoo Answers said had to be below freezing, it'll probably be a wet snow that melts when it hits. This section is evidence of a diseased mind.

Anyway, Weather Underground also says winds will be in the 10-14 MPH range, which may be enough for the CCHA to stop the game midway through the third and have the teams switch ends. This did not happen in last year's game against Wisconsin despite Michigan's request (Hogan's crease was faulty), but the CCHA's on top of things.

Useless Prediction

This is a game Michigan should win by putting Hagelin and company out against Perlini and relying on those guys to overwhelm the slower MSU team with their skating. Lines two through four are major advantage Michigan and the game should be largely focused in the MSU zone when they're on the ice.

Michigan has a hard time turning possession into goals, however, and plays a large number of games against obviously inferior competition that they can't break open because of their lack of firepower. They just did it twice against Ohio State, struggled to finish off Lake State, etc. If they played this 100 times Michigan might win 60 with 20 ties and 20 MSU wins, but they're only playing once, so here's a stupid prediction of a 3-2 Michigan victory and snow.

Comments

winterblue75

December 10th, 2010 at 1:16 PM ^

Why has UM hockey dropped off from where they were in the mid-late 90's? I still think they are a very good program obviously, but seem to be just below the elite program they were 10-14 years ago.

TurfGuy

December 10th, 2010 at 2:49 PM ^

Watch the 1996 Minnesota game where Mike Legg had his most famous goal. There was one point where a Minny player had a wide open net.  Marty slid across to make the save out of nowhere (you may say that he shouldn't have been that out of position) The Minny player raises his stick in celebration and then you can see the moment when he realizes Marty robbed him. He is completely deflated. Couldn't find it on youtube, but I have that game on DVD.

streaker

December 11th, 2010 at 10:19 AM ^

The NHL and their little puppeteering of the minor league systems (predominantly the Major Junior systems) have done a better job of keeping talent in Canada (and some poaching in the US) and away from US colleges. Recruiting pipelines are considerably narrower than in the mid 90's so it is taking more skill to find the high end player now and convince them to come to Michigan versus UND, Minnesota, Wisconsin, BC, BU etc. Today's player wants the best and fastest route to the NHL, and unfortunately aren't buying into the notion that playing Div I hockey is the way to go. And if they do, they are only sticking around for a couple years.

Still, there is enough good talent out there where programs like Michigan can stockpile 10-12 draft choice worthy players and hope that they blossom.  Like Brian mentioned, this is not a vintage Michigan team that has one or two "go to" snipers and an NHL ready hulking defenseman. They need to compete on every shift, every period- and the last two years has proven that they haven't done that- but they have the capability to play with just about any team when they do.

Ty Butterfield

December 10th, 2010 at 1:20 PM ^

This is very telling.

(sarcasm)

Solid preview as always Brian. The weather stuff had me cracking up. One of my friends works for the National Weather Service. I will call him just so he can throw in his two cents about what the forecast might be. I really hope Michigan curb stomps MSU. GO BLUE!

readyourguard

December 10th, 2010 at 9:21 PM ^

"I say the Nike WTF Michigan State logo should be used for all future MSU (YTMSU) previews for ever and ever amen."

This

F MSU.  Hollis may have consulted his stupid ass "Unity Council" or whatever the hell those idiots call the on-campus parole board, but that logo shall forever be used when previewing or mentioning Misdemeanor State.

Mattinboots

December 10th, 2010 at 1:29 PM ^

Here's to hoping Weather Underground is better at forecasting than the Weather Channel.  20% chance of snow (just snow) sounds much better than 40% chance of rain/snow with 70% chance of just rain from 6PM 9PM.

TTUwolverine

December 10th, 2010 at 3:54 PM ^

To be honest, there isn't a huge difference in the forecast numbers.  The weather underground and TWC both forecast for so many cities that those numbers pretty much come straight from models without much human interaction it seems.  However, the radar on the weather underground is phenomenal, and I would highly recommend ditching TWC for those purposes.  Also, it was developed by Dr. Perry Samson, a professor here in the college of engineering. 

cheesheadwolverine

December 10th, 2010 at 1:29 PM ^

I think the talent pool has gotten deeper so there is more year-to-year variation, but I don't see anyone who is consistently better than M -- there is no OSU, USC, Alabama tier of teams. 

I just looked at the Pairwise to confirm my hunch (fwiw we're 16th and that leaves us out given the Atlantic Hockey autobid) and of the top 25 there is noone except maybe North Dakota who has has a better decade than we have.

denverblue

December 10th, 2010 at 1:47 PM ^

Boston College, Minnesota and DU would disagree with you:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NCAA_Division_I_Men%27s_Ice_Hockey…

Also, it's just a bit early to be looking at Pairwise for any relevant tournament information at this point. It's one of those things where it's designed to be looked at after all the games are played. As we approach the end of the season, you can start getting an idea as to who will make it, but by then all non-conference games will be played, determining Common Opponent records, most Teams Under Consideration will be figured out, and Head to Head and RPI's will be whipping into shape.

I agree, though, that as hockey spreads across the nation (thank you NHL expansion), you will see more athletes attracted to the sport, deepening the pool. Who would've thought 10 years ago that you'd see D-1 hockey recruits from California and Texas?

TTUwolverine

December 10th, 2010 at 3:52 PM ^

For I am a meteorologist and am employed by the National Weather Service (in Lubbock, TX, but whateva [also, I fucking love it when weather comes up in this blog]). 

Official Big Chill Gameday Forecast:

Temperature at Puck Drop:  35

Temperature at Game Ending:  ehh, pretty much the same... maybe even a degree or two warmer. 

Precipitation: Drizzle and sleet, perhaps some wet snow (not bad, Brian).  Could go either way, but methinks it will be mostly drizzle and sleet given the depth of the warm layer at the surface.  Either way, it will be very light.

Discussion:

Thank God this game is taking place on Saturday, and not Sunday, because otherwise this would be an epic mess.  The biggest factor going into this game will be the approaching mid-latitude cyclone (see: low pressure system) that will be somewhere in southern Wisconsin by gametime.  This system will be wreaking havoc on the midwest, dropping bunches of snow on its north and west sides, and rain/sleet/wintery mix from hell to its east.  Ann Arbor for the most part will be in the wam sector until a cold front sweeps in behind it sometime Sunday.  The track of this storm is still a bit ambiguous... and this will be a big deal on Sunday and Monday when it slides through the lower peninsula... but most models are in agreement that the primary sheild of precip will not have arrived by gametime.  So, light precip, and due to the warm air advection on the east side of the storm, it will probably be in the form of drizzle or sleet.  I doubt it will be a huge factor.

HAHAHAHA my lifelong goal of writing a weather forecast on mgoblog is now complete. 

/nerd

//I hope I don't get neg-banged for this

TTUwolverine

December 10th, 2010 at 5:37 PM ^

Yeesh, that could be dicey.  What you'll probably see Sunday is snow early in the morning around Ann Arbor and points north, followed by a big gap in the snow immediately to the west often termed the "dry slot" (har) by meteorologists, followed by an area of blowing snow that stretches from northern IL northeast into Ontario.  Not only that, but once the cold front crosses Lake Michigan in the late afternoon/evening a big band of Lake effect snow will set up in Northern Indiana that will persist for a couple days.

This is tricky, because Ann Arbor is in a narrow transition zone between rain and snow Saturday night and Sunday morning.  It is conceivable that the snow could hold off until sometime Sunday morning.  My advice to you is to wake up early and check to see if its raining or snowing outside.  If it's raining, start driving and get to Chicago by late morning/ early afternoon.  If its snowing, you'll have to use your judgement about how bad the snow is.  Waiting until later in the day will result in more snow on the back end of the trip.

Disclaimer:

I've been following this storm for a little bit, and it has been poorly handled by models thus far.  These things are notorious for unpredictable tracks, which is a big reason why snow forecasts often bust badly in the winter.  My forecast confidence level is set at 79.878736529%.  So, yeah, just monitor the situation and adjust accordingly.