OSU 0 UM 1 EV 01:38 Hyman (12) from Larkin (15)
Dylan Larkin picks up the puck in Michigan’s defensive zone and carries it out himself. As he reaches the neutral zone the two nearest defenders react in very different ways; the far-side defender sees Larkin and steps toward him, while the near-side defender skates off for a line change. In the middle of a play. Where the guy with the puck is about eight feet away.
Larkin is able to skate in to the neutral zone with ease thanks to the pick that the line-changing defender set on his neutral zone counterpart. Larkin’s speed gains him a step on the flat-footed defenseman that picks him up, and as he starts to go behind the net the opposite defenseman (circled below) panics. He jumps to try and pick Larkin up, thus vacating the net-front area he should be in.
Larkin sees the second defenseman jump out of position and realizes that leaves Zach Hyman unchecked in front. He threads a perfect backhanded pass to Hyman, who shoots immediately. The puck hits Matt Tomkins’ shoulder and rolls down his back a bit before falling into the net behind him.
[After THE JUMP: M’s goalie gets pulled but they still win, so lots of scoring]
OSU 0 UM 2 EV 05:36 Hyman (13) from Kile (8) and Larkin (16)
Alex Kile dishes to Larkin after crossing the blue line, which pulls two defenders toward him.
Larkin sees the two defenders converge on him, and instead of getting obliterated in the corner he rims the puck around the boards. You can see that Michigan has an advantage on the right side, with two skaters matched against a long Ohio State defender.
Kile skates behind the net to retrieve the net, and the defender decides to chase. Kile grabs the puck and turns, which allows him to make a forehanded pass to the slot. Chasing Kile wasn’t the smartest decision, because you can see from the box below that it leaves a Michigan player open with an (frozen) ocean of space to operate. The decision is even worse when considering that the open Michigan skater is Hyman, who I believe I compared to Wayne Gretzky with Pavel Datsyuk’s hands last week. That’s hyperbole (probably), but the intelligence of the decision is still lacking.
OSU 1 UM 2 SH 14:30 Greco unassisted
Andrew Copp has the puck on the power play and wants to pass back to the blue line, but he gets hit as he’s passing and the puck winds up slowly sliding in that direction. This leaves Anthony Greco (circled below) time to close on the puck and gain possession.
Greco thinks he’s all fancy and snaps the puck up and off of the boards, believing that he’ll be able to retrieve it on the other side of Michael Downing.
Greco does exactly what he set out to do so d’oh, I guess. Downing swats at him with his stick and remains in pursuit, but a shorthanded breakaway opportunity develops none the less. Downing initially turned to chase the puck instead of taking the man, so it should be noted that while he is in pursuit you can see from the screencap below that he’s a step or two behind, with the gap only increasing after Greco crosses the blue line.
There’s a split second where Greco brings the puck away from his body on the forehand to shoot, and that’s where Downing stabs and tries to knock the puck off of his stick. He misses, and Greco gets his shot away unimpeded.
OSU 1 UM 3 PPG 15:22 Larkin (7) from Nieves (11) and Weresnki (11)
Michigan is on the power play, and they’re in their typical umbrella alignment with Werenski at the point. Ohio State’s penalty killing unit is aligned in a 1-2-1 with the two middle defenders sunk toward the front of the net. Weresnki is under pressure, but he’s able to pass to Nieves before the high man can cut off his passing lane. Nieves has a huge swath of ice to pass across, finding Larkin on the opposite wing.
The front of the net has become a crowded place what with Michigan having two guys in front and OSU countering with one. Those three are enough to screen Tomkins, and he isn’t able to get a good read on Nieves’ pass. Larkin one-times it, and Tomkis is still sliding to his left by the time the puck’s in the net.
OSU 1 UM 4 PPG 15:43 Motte (6) from Copp (9) and Downing (9)
Michigan is on the power play and they gain the zone with speed. OSU’s defense is lined up like a rod of foosball players, which is good if you’re the team with the puck and really, really bad if you aren’t. Motte is on the left wing and crashes the net hard, hoping for a pass from Compher that he can deflect in.
Compher makes the pass a half second or so late, and Motte tries to adjust to it but can’t. The puck slides to the corner, where OSU’s four defenders converge. OSU gets the puck and sends a weak clearing attempt toward the blue line, but the puck doesn’t leave the zone. Downing has moved laterally toward the boards and is there to pick off the clearing attempt.
Downing one-times a pass to Copp, who has a ton of time and space thanks to the entirety of the defense shifting to one side of the ice. He takes advantage of that time and almost waits too long, as the defense has recovered and gotten into his shooting lane.
Copp’s shot hits Tomkins in the shoulder and starts to take an arcing path back to the ice.
You can see from the screen cap above that Motte’s spotted the airborne puck. He’s fortunate that OSU’s netfront defender stays in the middle of the slot. He turns, waiting for the puck to hit the ice before jamming at it. Tomkins is scrambling to get back down into his butterfly, and there are gaps everywhere for Motte to hit. He does, and Michigan goes into the break up three.
OSU 1 UM 5 EV 00:14 Copp (10) from Downing (9) and Calderone (4)
Copp wins the faceoff to begin the period. The puck is knocked back to the d-men, where Downing fires a long shot into the offensive zone that settles behind the net. Motte picks it up, and instead of leaving it for Calderone to pick up (he’s crossing behind the net) fires the puck toward the slot. The problem here is that there’s no one in the slot, but Tomkins puts his stick down to cut off the passing lane and blocks it; the puck dies at the side of the net, which works to Michigan’s advantage.
Calderone is able to recover the loose puck, but when he goes to shoot he fans on the attempt. The puck trickles back, Downing is able to spear it, and the thing goes almost straight up in the air.
Copp sees the puck and winds up baseball-style, batting the puck out of the air and bouncing it past Tomkins. It beats him through the five hole before he can even react to the puck being swung at.
OSU 2 UM 5 PPG 01:42 Johnson from Shilkey and Brevig
Ohio State dumps the puck in and De Jong is in position to pick it up behind the net…until he overskates it and gets checked into the boards. I see this as the equivalent of a receiver who knows he’s about to get hit dropping what should be an easy catch. /heavy sigh
Schilkey gathers behind the net, carries up the boards, and passes to Brevig a bit below the blue line. Schilkey cuts to the slot and Brevig tries to pass it to him for a redirection.
The redirected puck gets through to Racine, but he’s able to stop it. The rebounded puck, however, is sitting in front of the net where there’s a gaggle of guys there to either knock it in (three of them) or clear it (three of them as well). Lohan gets turned around, thinks the puck is to his right, and turns to sweep away nothing. De Jong does a good job of tying up Greco, but Lohan’s turn leaves Johnson unchecked. Selman sees this and tries to react, but not before Johnson can backhand the puck past Racine.
OSU 2 UM 6 EV 02:36 Selman (2) from Lohan (8) and Werenski (12)
Zach Werenski wins a battle for a loose puck in the corner. The defender who was covering him in the corner follows, and the defender responsible for covering high converges as well. This leaves Lohan open at the point, and Weresnki passes to set him up for a heavy snapshot.
Two defenders covering Werenski also leaves Justin Selman open to the side of the net. Lohan’s shot is stopped, but there’s a rebound directly in front. Selman taps it but Tomkins stops it. Yet another rebound is left in front of his leg pad, and I’ll let you guess what happens next.
OSU 3 UM 6 EV 03:05 Weis from Johnson and Shilkey
Ohio State dumps the puck in and wins the race to the corner. Weis chops at it and it rolls to the opposite corner, where Shilkey stays on the puck despite a good effort from Selman to check him.
Shilkey turns away from Selman and passes to Johnson in the high slot.
Piazza is slow to pick up Weis in front of the net, and Johnson (who’s open thanks to De Jong not stepping toward him) shoots one that’s deflected off of the blade of Weis’ stick and in.
OSU 3 UM 7 EV 12:08 Motte (7) from Selman (2) and Nieves (12)
Nieves holds the puck at the blue line as he waits for his teammates to get onside. He passes to Motte in the middle of the ice, but Motte only has it for a second before getting hit. Selman crosses behind Motte, and he’s able to pick up the puck as Motte loses it on impact.
Motte and his defender have slid out of the way, leaving an open shot for Selman to take. Note that Motte is behind his defender and has an open path to the net.
Selman’s shot is high, and Tomkins stands to stop it. The puck falls to his feet, and Motte is there to smack it in off his backhand.
Tomkins is pulled and replaced by Logan Davis at this point.
OSU 3 UM 8 EV 02:25 Dancs (2) from Selman (3) and Serville (6)
Serville takes a long shot from the blue line that misses to the goaltender’s left. It ends up behind the net, where Dexter Dancs is able to swim past an OSU defender and tap it back to Selman.
Andrew Sinelli is checked and there’s no one in front of the net, so Selman decides to skate the puck up toward the faceoff circle. This gives Dancs time to loop around and get in front of the net. Keep an eye on #6, because he’s about to pull a Leeroy Jenkins.
Good ol’ Leeroy Jenkins Jr. charges across the crease, leaving Dancs wiiiiiiide open behind him. Selman threads a pass through the paint and Dancs has a ton of open net to tap it in. Bingo bango, gang.
OSU 4 UM 8 EV 08:26 Greco from Fritz
Werenski goes back to retrieve the puck in Michigan’s zone, and upon doing so decides to carry it into the neutral zone himself. Brevig closes in on him on the forecheck. Werenski holds the puck too long, only deciding to pass after Brevig has already made contact. Larkin tries to stop and turn to gather the puck, but you can see from the screen cap that it is behind him.
Fritz gathers the loose puck near center ice and a 2-on-1 opportunity unfolds immediately. Lohan is back too far to cut off the passing lane, and Fritz easily slides it over to Greco.
To Greco’s credit, his shot is essentially perfect. He tucks it just under the bar in the near-side corner. A shot placed that well is almost unstoppable.
OSU 5 UM 8 EV 08:32 Greco unassisted
Compher wins the ensuing faceoff, though he has to kick the puck back after he gets tied up. Piazza comes up to get it but can’t make it before a blur that I’m supposed to believe is a hockey player steals the puck.
The ghost tips the puck to his right, and you can see in the screen cap above that Piazza is turning the opposite direction. He gathers it and just look at the screen cap.
Racine has taken away the short side at the expense of the far side (i.e. he’s overshifted to his left a bit), and Greco is able to hit the open part Racine vacated to his right.
Greco scoring after taking all that energy just to rematerialize is all the more impressive. Also, Red is Red.
This stood out to me as the moment where I felt this team’s identity became fully formed, and it’s formed into something I do not like; they’re going to outscore opponents, and if the offense falls flat so will Michigan.
OSU 6 UM 8 EV 14:17 Johnson from Bjorkung
OSU wins a faceoff on the dot just outside the blue line and dumps the puck in. It takes a strange bounce off of the boards behind the net and comes back out front. This surprises Serville, who takes a swipe at it while sliding backward. Not a good clearing attempt, and the puck doesn’t get cleared.
The puck goes directly to an OSU defenseman, and he too takes an awkward, off-balance shot. The screen cap shows how clear his shooting lane is, so the puck gets through to Racine despite his bad form.
The puck hits Racine in the chest and he doesn’t absorb it; the rebound falls directly in front of him. Downing is in the right place, however, and between him coronating Johnson and Johnson falling the second shot is weak and Racine stops it with his leg pad.
After their collision above Johnson stands up, which takes Downing’s feet out from under him. He ends up on the ice while Johnson is in position to shoot, and there’s yet another rebounded puck sitting idle. Johnson just has to tap it in to cut Michigan’s lead to two. Red decides it’s time to switch and puts Nagelvoort in for the last five minutes.
This “celebration” makes me feel a little better. I guess.
OSU 6 UM 9 EV 14:37 Kile (10) from Hyman (16) and Larkin (17)
Larkin wins a battle along the boards and backhands a pass to Hyman, who’s also coming off the boards after moving the puck up to Larkin.
The defenseman circled in the screen cap below is watching Hyman from the second he comes off the boards. We’re starting to see the Hyman Effect come into play, and it leads to the goal here. The guy I’ve numbered below would typically take Hyman but he’s not in position to do so; instead, the circled defenseman can either 1) take Hyman or 2) let the goaltender stop the shot and take Kile so that there’s no chance of a rebound being tapped in. The circled defenseman must not realize that he has no help defender to his left, so Kile is left behind him unchecked.
Kile just has to not mess up to score, and he doesn’t mess up. Easy. Larkin’s celebrating before the puck has hit the back of the net.
“Only The Smiths understand me.”
OSU 6 UM 10 EN 18:56 Larkin (8) from Motte (14)
Hyman carries it across the blue line and gets double teamed. The OSU defenders stand him up and manage to separate him from the puck, but look who’s there to pick it up.
Larkin shoots, it goes under the defender’s stick, and Michigan’s win is cemented.
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014-15 Michigan Wolverines