Failure Comment Count

Brian March 25th, 2013 at 4:31 PM

3/23/2013 – Michigan 6, Miami 2 – 18-18-3, reach CCHA final
3/24/2013 – Michigan 1, Notre Dame 3 – 18-19-3, season over, tourney streak over

nnotre_dame-324-t1[1]

In the end they were nowhere near good enough.

If you've followed Michigan hockey for a long period of time, you can point to a tourney game here or there Sunday's CCHA final against the Irish reminded you of. Smash together:

  • that Maine game where a moment of brilliance from Mike Comrie couldn't cover up his short-handed defense's failing legs with…
  • that Boston College game Michigan inexplicably led for most of that was over the moment the Eagles tied it after a nine-minute stretch without stoppages and…
  • that North Dakota game when Michigan couldn't get out of its own zone but scratched out a shorthanded goal and made it stand up and…

…you get that Notre Dame game.

You know the general outline even if you have no idea what I'm talking about above. If it was soccer the announcers would instantly announce your goal as "against the run of play."  Overwhelmed in the corners, fortunate to be in the game, goalie's arm hanging out over the abyss as he screams "DON'T. LET. GO." Fingers sweating, grip slipping, eyes widening, waiting for the buzzer or death.

I don't know about you but as soon as Notre Dame tied it, I was waiting for the end. Michigan had hardly put together a scoring chance. Notre Dame did them a favor by scoring early in the third and dialing back the throttle. At that point shots were 31-10, scoring chances at least that lopsided. By sitting back Notre Dame allowed Michigan to get a better handle on the game, but with 19:30 left I thought "Michigan will have two chances to tie it" and that was all they got.

Notre Dame ate Michigan's lunch. They took one penalty and gave up no odd-man rushes save the shorthanded goal. They won battles in the corner at a 3 to 1 rate. Michigan couldn't put together a rush for ten-minute blocks of time. Over the previous month they'd put something together and run roughshod over all comers, but finally they met a horse they couldn't catch up to. All that stuff Michigan did over their last ten games Notre Dame had been doing all year.

That's how a 21-year tourney streak ends: with Notre Dame showing men of will what will really is.

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

In the aftermath the word of the day is "redeem."

By the bitter end, Michigan hockey redeemed itself

Or "proud"

NCAA streak ends, but Wolverines made Michigan proud

No.

Michigan put themselves in this position with 2/3rds of a season of miserable, unwatchable hockey, and did not dig themselves out. Without the vagaries of single-game playoff hockey they would not have even come close in the end. They were 0-5 against the Irish this year, bombed in every game. Michigan was about as far away from winning that Notre Dame game as they were from getting an at large bid. They had a chance, and found out that running to catch up with someone who had been trying hard from day one isn't easy.

They got what they deserved. A team with as many NHL draft picks as anyone in the country was reduced to a "Cinderella run" in the CCHA playoffs. Divided, they lost game after game to sheer apathy. It got so bad Red tried the put-in-the-third-string-walk-on trick again. Hunwick's first team responded by flying through the slot to clear pucks like demons. This edition lost 4-0 to Michigan Tech and 5-1 to Bowling Green, the nadir. That listless debacle against Bowling Green is this season. What they did at the end was a preview of next year.

It's great that Andrew Copp emerged to take the team by the scruff of its neck and jam it towards an NCAA bid whether it wanted one or not, great that Steve Racine emerged into a viable starter once his defense ceased selling him out a dozen times a game, great that Guptill went from a wake-up scratch to pounding, skating power forward. The fact that this could happen is a ringing condemnation of the upperclassmen. By midseason the guys flanking Treais on the top line were Copp and Sinelli; by the end of the season Copp, a freshman no one had heard of before the year, was the undisputed leader of the forward corps. Because he tried real hard, full stop. This made him unique.

His leadership and the rest of the locker room pulling together is reason for hope. Lessons have clearly been learned, and if this year doesn't show the players the route to success goes through Jeff Jackson's relentless discipline, I'll be surprised.

But it doesn't redeem a damn thing. The preseason #2 team in the country finished under .500 and missed the tournament for the first time in 22 years. There is only one word for that: failure. The scarlet F is branded in this team. The only way up is to own that. Some of them have time to redeem themselves yet; that process starts now.

Next Year

Michigan loses Moffie, Treais, Sparks, Rohrkemper, and Lynch the Elder to graduation. The early word on departures from Mike Spath at the Wolverine is as such:

  • OUT: Kevin Clare, revealed to be indefinitely suspended as much as he was injured and implicated as a Problem, and—sigh—star-crossed Jon Merrill.
  • FENCE: Trouba is declared 60-40 to return—an opinion more or less shared by Dave Starman. At least we will know quickly—he's expected to make a decision in a couple days.
  • BACK (EXCEPT ONE OF THESE GUYS WILL NOT BE BACK BECAUSE THIS IS MICHIGAN HOCKEY):  The three forwards likely to have NHL options are Guptill, Di Giuseppe, and Nieves. Spath projects all to be back, though Guptill "clashed" with the coaches earlier in the year—he was left at home for one series, IIRC. Mac Bennett is projected to return and wear the C.

Just looking at playing time, a couple other guys may also head for greener pastures. There's Rutledge, of course, who turned in an .856 and watched Racine establish a death grip on the job over the last ten games of the season. If he wants to play, a return to the USHL and transfer to a smaller school is probably the only way. Then there's Mike Chiasson, who was an apparently-healthy scratch for the ten-game run. Mike Szuma played in his stead; against Notre Dame Michigan refused to ice a sixth defenseman entirely. I don't think any of the recruits are threats to not show but never say never, mmm, Connor Carrick?

If Michigan does get Trouba back and somehow evades the inevitable unexpected departure, here's a hypothetical line chart:

FORWARDS

  1. Guptill-Copp-Compher
  2. Di Giuseppe-Nieves-DeBlois
  3. Motte-Lynch-Moffatt
  4. Selman-Hyman-Allen

(Also: Kile, Sinelli, Cianfrone, Random New Walk-on who might be Max Shuart.)

DEFENSE

  1. Trouba-Downing
  2. Bennett-De Jong
  3. Serville-Chiasson

(Also: Szuma and probably Kevin Lohan, possibly Spencer Hyman.)

Michigan can sustain a forward departure without much dropoff. The guys I've projected as scratches are all capable of emerging into quality players. Sinelli gave Michigan good minutes late this year. Kile is a year older than the NTDP guys and has better than PPG with one of the USHL's best teams. While Cianfrone has struggled in the USHL, before that he was a midget minor demon and projected first-round OHL draft pick who still went in the third round despite telling teams he was headed to Michigan. Drawing one of those guys into the lineup will be fine. Only Shuart (who left his USHL club for the NAHL) looks particularly unlikely to be a contributor next year.

On defense, they need Trouba back badly. That third pairing is pretty sketch as it is, featuring one of two guys Michigan simply refused to ice against ND plus Serville, who still gives me hives quite a bit. The top two pairings feature two freshmen. There's not nearly as much confidence that any of the backup plans will come through. Lohan is a 6'5" late bloomer; Hyman is a guy who's piled up a lot of time in junior and seems like a third pairing type. If Trouba's gone Michigan is down to one solid pair and hope.

Copp will get an A, for sure, and then DeBlois seems like the most likely other captain. That lineup has no seniors save projected C Bennett and Luke Moffatt, who has never seemed like captain material. Juniors include Lynch, Hyman, Chiasson, and Serville. I could see Hyman getting a call, but DeBlois was on the top line while he toiled on the fourth.

Comments

Doc Brown

March 25th, 2013 at 4:44 PM ^

i can't take you serious after your whiney escapade on twitter last night. The CoY were complete right about you.

I am reading Yost Built for my hockey coverage for now on. 

M-Wolverine

March 25th, 2013 at 4:59 PM ^

 

Desmondo

March 25th, 2013 at 6:06 PM ^

CoY is right that the water bottle incident is among the douchiest things anyone has ever been proud of. Brian is right that this team was an embarrassment. However, the righteous indignation is so off-putting that I find myself wanting to kick him in the junk even as he argues something that I fundamentally agree with.

Doc Brown

March 25th, 2013 at 6:29 PM ^

I will still be here, but I refuse to regard Brian as a credible source of analysis for hockey. Football perhaps, hockey no. Especially, when my own personal experience playing hockey and my access to the team outweighs Brian.

Gulogulo37

March 26th, 2013 at 8:29 AM ^

What does their age have to do with it? You could make an argument about it being our team or about it being Michigan, but when you're in your 20's (Brian only ripped on upperclassmen), you're an adult. I think they can manage someone on the internet being disappointed in them. They didn't make the playoffs but I look forward to seeing them get their participation ribbons.

Shop Smart Sho…

March 25th, 2013 at 7:14 PM ^

Isn't the whole point that they in fact did NOT work hard for the entire season?  If they had worked as hard as they did the last 10 games throughout the entire season, they wouldn't be in the position they are in.  

If you want to congratulate them, go ahead.  You might also want to ponder the possibility that they are should be held accountable for throwing away what could have been a pretty good season, and the streak.

jdon

March 25th, 2013 at 8:31 PM ^

I don't care about the first 2/3rds of the season.  It happened, it sucked.

I care that our boys fought their hearts out and gave it all until the end.  That is what sports is all about:  how many times have you heard 'its not how you play the game but whether you win or lose'?  me either?  because the opposite is true.

This board, and its leader, only excell when times are terrible:  you guys are pathetic, whiney, and narcisistic (no, I'm not spell checking). 

This write up is the worst write up I have ever seen here before and I am compelled to say this:  Don't give up on the fucking team, only to jump back on the bandwagon when the wins roll around, and then go all we're-better-than-this/we-are-failures when we don't make the playoffs:

Brian should leave hockey alone from now on, in my mind he has no right to cover our hockey teams ever again.

jdon

Shop Smart Sho…

March 25th, 2013 at 8:42 PM ^

You are correct.  It is "how they play the game" that is important.  They played like spoiled children for the majority of the season.  While the run at the end of the season was impressive, all it does it point out how poorly they played at the beginning of the year.

While you might be right that they "fought their hearts out",  you have to acknowledge that they did not do that for the majority of the season.

Michigan Arrogance

March 25th, 2013 at 8:52 PM ^

I care that our boys fought their hearts out and gave it all until the end.  That is what sports is all about:  how many times have you heard 'its not how you play the game but whether you win or lose'?  me either?  because the opposite is true.

 

you can't just ignore the 2/3rds of the season that demonstrated the exact opposite of what you take to be "what sports are all about"

b/c they DIDN'T give it their all... until it got to the end. they DIDN'T play the game they way they should have. It seemed like token effort, no effort to backcheck, no effort to be physical. and that's why they are sitting at home today. this isn't M football 2008. this is M football 2004 finishing 5-7.

again, with injuries and no top end scoring talent and shakey goal tending, had they finished 3rd-5th or so in the league and came within a chasm of an at large, and fell just short while demonstrating that they played up to their abilities, things would be different. As it stands, they had to scrape 8/9 wins at the end just to get to a game under 500.

Kermits Blue Key

March 26th, 2013 at 10:02 AM ^

Speaking of pathetic and whiney, have you reread your post? You say this blog only excells (sic) when times are terrible, yet you're forming your entire opinion of this year's team on the 1/3 of the season where things were good. That is neither an objective or realistic approach to analyzing this season, and it's quite hypocritical. It sounds like you need a Lou Holtz-type blogger to follow if you want nothing but sunshine blown up your ass about the teams you follow.

Doc Brown

March 25th, 2013 at 7:28 PM ^

I basically stated my name in the other thread. It is not hard to find my tweet towards brian. I am the first tweet to Brian last night. 

I love the use of red herrings in this thread...reads like a ninth grade paper analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of Obama's 2nd Amendment platform. 

bronxblue

March 25th, 2013 at 7:48 PM ^

And thanks for bringing an unrelated political statement into this argument.  Definitely not something you'd expect from 9th graders.

Just admit that you are unhappy with people "bashing" a hockey team that underperformed, and you want to vent.  Brian sure vented, and while I don't see any direct shot at the players, it definitely feels like you are perceiving some ulterior motive to his comments.  You are entitled to that opinion, but stop acting like people disagreeing with you are throwing up straw men and red herrings.  It's juvenile.

Lionsfan

March 25th, 2013 at 6:47 PM ^

If you want, I can use the whole conversation:

Maybe he's not where Brian is, but your idea that Brian is the only one feeling this way about the team is way off

Shop Smart Sho…

March 25th, 2013 at 7:08 PM ^

You are just digging yourself a grave.  Brian spent the second half of his article talking about the positives and the potential for next year.  Obviously, there is some pecimism when it comes to potential losses via the NHL, but that would have been at the end of any good article written about a Michigan Hockey team over the last two decades.

bronxblue

March 25th, 2013 at 7:52 PM ^

Cute with the "group think" argument.  I too have read a book.

I will reiterate - you are not "losing" an argument here, but if your stance is that the team played well this year and just ran out of steam at the end, be prepared to have people disagree.  Yes, Brian overreacted a bit; it's what he does from time to time.  Kind of like your rabid counter-arguments in this post.  It's an emotional connection forged between fans and teams, and separating yourself can be difficult.  Brian is a bit more subjective than normal here, but you are not some paragon of objective virtue either. 

Shop Smart Sho…

March 25th, 2013 at 7:55 PM ^

I've had disagreements with Brian and the site.  Ask Ace about it.  I've e-mailed Brian personally with concerns about things he has stated.  I try to avoid acting like you have in this thread though.  I'll be the first to admit that I was wrong when I did it.  You've come to a public forum to vent your anger at Brian, and now you simply won't let it go.  If you aren't here for the hockey coverage, as your first post asserts, then just stop reading the thread.