Saturday, March 10, 2018
#6 Ohio State 3, #11 Michigan 2 (OT)
OSU 1 UM 0 PPG 16:02 Assists: Miller & Joshua
One theoretical advantage to Michigan’s propensity for crowding below the top of the faceoff circle on the penalty kill is an increased likelihood of blocked shots, and that’s what happens here. Miller gets his shot stopped but the puck pops up and back to him. He gloves it, drops it, and retreats to the blue line. He has Myer open in the opposite corner and swings it to him.
Myer starts skating toward the faceoff dot and Winborg, who’s stationed between the two faceoff circles, responds by getting his stick out and taking away the passing lane to the skater cutting through the slot to the front of the net. That leaves Luke Martin to step up on Myer—mostly, at least. He doesn’t want to come all the way to wall and get walked or have Myer fire a pass behind him to an open skater down low, so he tries to split the difference and take away the pass while being in position to block the shot. Problem is he’s a hair too far to Myer’s right. Martin tries to block it by dropping to a knee and pushing to his right once he sees that Myer is really going to take the shot, but the puck gets through.
Lavigne can see the shot the whole way, so it’s bad in the sense that he probably should have been able to track this better. On the other hand, it’s a puck that’s on Lavigne in an instant and Joshua is right next to him; as David pointed out when I asked him about this one, Lavigne was probably expecting it to be deflected off of Joshua, who somehow turned and leapt out of the way.
[After THE JUMP: Cooper Mar-whoa-dy (I’m sorry I’ll see myself out)]
OSU 1 UM 1 EV 11:16 Assists: Hughes & Dancs
Hughes is doing that thing he does where he loops from low to high in the zone, finds a weakness, and strikes. This time he sees a miniscule shooting lane and decides to test the waters, but the puck glances off one Laczynski’s stick and wobbles its way to the edge of the circle.
Laczyski sort of goes for the puck but Romeo isn’t going to wait to see whether he gets to it, instead deciding the best play is the poke check. Romeo flings the puck in the air just as Marody reaches for it.
“Reach” being key to this play, of course. Marody bats the puck down with his glove.
Gerard actually does Michigan a favor, stopping the puck as it skitters through the crease. He’s unable to clear it, though, as Marody skates through his stick.
Still need to cue the Jaws theme, though. Marody’s getting ready to turn on the puck when a lurking stick pulls him to the ice.
That doesn’t matter, though? Somehow it doesn’t. Marody, who has slid out of the dang frame below, not only gets his stick on the puck but manages to open it up so he can lift it over Romeo. There’s still one last bit of resistance, as Romeo, who’s in full Hasek mode at this point, manages to arc his stick around in hopes of knocking the puck away.
Too slow. Marody’s shot goes up and in. Goal of the season, I’d say.
OSU 2 UM 1 PPG 4:01 Assists: Wiitala & Miller
The puck goes behind the net after a faceoff. Joshua attempts to wrap it around and misses, throwing the puck through the crease to the wall to Lavigne’s right. Myer gets the puck and passes up the wall to Joyaux.
Warren shadows Joyaux as he skates to the middle, but he’s powerless to do anything when the puck moves to Miller. Slaker skates up from the bottom of the circle.
Miller sees his play before Slaker can get past the dot, let alone gets his stick around and into the passing lane (he’s on his off hand). Miller’s pass goes off Wiitala’s blade, then hits Boka’s leg and goes airborne.
The puck then hits Joshua’s leg and jumps higher, going in over Lavigne as Joshua makes and unneeded move, turning to bat the puck in.
OSU 2 UM 2 PPG 7:27 Assists: Hughes & Calderone
Marody wins the faceoff, sending the puck careening to the right. Calderone kicks at it, settles it, and taps a short pass up the boards to Hughes. Jobst closes the gap in a hurry, draping himself over Hughes and completely eliminating the lateral passing lane to Cecconi. Hughes’ on-ice awareness is unreal and on full display here, as he’s able to thread a perfect pass just outside Jobst’s left leg to Marody near the dot.
Now put yourself in Romeo’s skates for a minute. Realllly focus on what this must be like. Marody gets the puck, turns on it, and is in perfect position to fire at the glove-side top corner. And then, of course, he doesn’t.
Marody drags the puck across Dancs’ face, using him as a screen. The move gets Romeo to push and butterfly and puts the puck on Marody’s backhand in perfect position for him to lift a puck for the blocker-side corner. And then, of course, he doesn’t.
Romeo pushes off his right skate once Marody starts his spin move, and he’s square to the shooter once Marody releases his sweeping shot off a 180-degree spin. Thing is, he’s standing. Marody’s shot goes is past Romeo’s left leg just before he kicks it out.
OSU 3 UM 2 EV 00:32 Assists: Laczynski & Ege
Ohio State wins the faceoff, which draws Marody up as the lone forechecker. Ege sees Dancs step toward him, which he sees opens up Laczynski behind Dancs. Ege plays the puck off the boards.
Laczynski gets the puck at the blue line and gets shoved by Cecconi.
Cecconi goes to finish the check and finds himself too far away from the boards. He ends up accidentally slingshotting Laczysnki forward since he’s hitting on an angle from the side/behind. Laczynski looks back and sees Weis, who has gone from just outside Laczynski’s lane to one opposite Gerard.
Weis glides with the puck from a couple of feet out side the circle to a couple of feet inside before shooting. Marody tries his best to make up for losing a ton of ground, though that’s in part understandable because he needed to pressure on the forecheck and then loop back on defense.
Lavigne’s hung out to dry in that there’s no defense here and he has to prepare for the near 100% chance Weis shoots. At the same time, Weis glides long enough that Lavigne has ample time to track the puck as it’s released. Lavigne misses, getting his glove up too late and kicking his left leg out to no avail.
We know exactly what they are at this point: a dynamic first line, talented second and third lines, a serviceable fourth line, a much-improved defense corps with the shiftiest skater in DI, and a goalie who will bail Michigan out 3-5x per game and allow 1-2 head-scratchers. They are also, in Mel Pearson’s first season, a lock to make the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan drew the team they had played the worst throughout the season and played to almost a draw by way of even-strength Corsi. Michigan had some trouble clearing the defensive zone, but they generally had skaters in position to keep Ohio State hemmed in near the boards; only 23 of their 52 attempts came from the House.
The largest disparity in the game was as predictable as the sun rising or a stupidly long line at Rick’s on a Saturday night. Michigan went on the penalty kill four times and allowed 17 attempts. Two of the three goals they allowed came on the kill. It’s not a “live by the sword, die by the sword” type of thing either, as the passivity makes it more like getting on a rollercoaster, realizing you’ve made a huge mistake, and hoping you don’t pass out before you pull back into the station.
There’s likely not a quick fix for that. They are what they are, and one thing they are is a team finally able to go into a Big Ten tournament game without the season hanging in the balance.