I agree with Luke Martin [Bill Rapai]
Friday, January 19, 2018
#20 Michigan 4, #12 Penn State 0
UM 1 PSU 0 EV 12:27 Assists: Norris & Slaker
Becker picks up the puck behind the net and passes up the boards for Norris. He then heads for the front of the net as Slaker loops around and gets into position to receive a pass on the red line. Michigan’s power play has just expired (see the still-present chyron at the top of the screen cap) but they’re still looking to isolate and exploit one defender’s coverage.
Norris holds the puck long enough to get the high defender to commit to shutting down the passing lane back to the point, which leaves him a clear pass to Slaker with one defender having to temper his aggressiveness since he’s playing a 2-on-1.
Norris starts to skate for the front of the net after he passes, then he curls around to get in position for a pass from Slaker. Meanwhile, Slaker skates up to where Norris was; Hults circles and sticks with Slaker, leaving Norris for someone else to check. No one does, though, as Biro pursues Norris and then breaks off his path to get back to the top corner of the now-unnecessary box for…reasons. This leaves Norris wiiiiide open.
Norris has a clear shot but also has an option since Becker has gotten great position in front of the net, rotating to open himself up so that he could take a pass. The defender on Becker has definitely not gotten great position, instead going around Becker and leaving himself walled off by the guy he’s supposed to be covering.
Norris’ shot goes off the back of Becker’s blade and in before Autio can even think about getting his stick around Becker. I think he went over the top of Becker to potentially play the lane between Norris and Becker and was way too late to even finish getting to that part of the ice.
[After THE JUMP: no more cycling but some unreal passing]
UM 2 PSU 0 EV 10:38 Assists: Cecconi & M. Pastujov
Michael Pastujov wins the draw to Nick Pastujov, who’s lined up on his right. Nick passes back to Cecconi.
Given that this has transpired off a faceoff and considering the speed of Michigan’s puck movement, Cecconi’s going to (and does) have a huge gap between himself and the nearest defender. He’s going to shoot, and he happens to have some help in front of Jones.
The important thing to note is the movement of Kerr, who was in the slot during the faceoff, raced to his left to cover ice and nothing more, then has to race back to the slot to pick up Becker. Err, to make an effort to pick up Becker, I should say.
This screen cap has the exact moment that the puck hits Becker’s stick, which allows you to see the remaining gap between him and Kerr. The puck flips up in the air and ends up fluttering over Jones.
UM 3 PSU 0 EV 14:29 Assists: Slaker & Piazza
Norris skates into the offensive zone and is immediately met by Hults, who does a pretty good job getting his stick out and impeding progress without committing a penalty. Norris has a very “nice, yes, but I was a first-round pick” moment, as he skates into and through the contact, somehow getting around the outstretched stick to pass to Slaker.
Slaker takes the pass and circles back, whereupon Norris is in line for a pass and totally unchecked.
Norris takes one long stride before he sees the defender low and to Jones’ right starting to close his window of opportunity. He wrong-foots a snapshot on net, hitting the top right corner just as Jones hits the ice.
UM 4 PSU 0 EN 18:13 Assists: none
*extremely Nelson Muntz voice* Ha-ha!
Saturday, January 20, 2018
#20 Michigan 3, #12 Penn State 2
UM 1 PSU 0 EV 00:26 Assists: Warren
Lavigne makes a stop and Norris clears away his rebound. He flings the puck up the boards, where Warren gets it, then banks it off the boards to himself. This springs him past the now flat-footed PSU defender, and he’s got two trailers with one PSU defenseman back.
Warren turns and looks and takes another small step and looks again and decides that there’s enough room to get the puck to Norris. He’s not exactly shrouding his pass in mystery, but that’s not really the point. He’s just trying to see whether he has the space to move the puck if the defenseman dives, and he decides he does.
Folkes tries to get in front of Norris. He mostly does but doesn’t seem to get his stick around, so he’s unable to stop Norris’ one-timer. Jones is slow to react to the pass and doesn’t get square, and the shot ends up going in over his left pad.
UM 2 PSU 0 PPG 9:47 Assists: Cecconi & Hughes
Penn State’s Robinson hacks a puck right to Quinn Hughes, and here we see once again the advantage of having a positionally-fluid “defenseman.” Hughes pulls the puck back and skates toward the blue line, then turns the corner and races down the boards. This whiplashes the defender on him while also drawing the low man toward him. That opens up space for Cecconi, who had gone to the wall in support, to receive a pass from Hughes below the red line.
Cecconi decides he’s going to skate the puck behind the net. The screen cap below shows that he’s got Dancs on Jones’ right post, and it’s the moment that Jones hits the ice in an attempt to completely seal said post from a quick shot or a Dancs tap-in as Cecconi goes by.
Then Cecconi does the aforementioned: he goes by. Cecconi is as far behind the net as he can be to still pass to Dancs and not have his angle erased, which would force him to the other side. Jones has his left pad up, then down, and then he picks it up again; he’s thinking he’ll have to push across to play the other post, but then Dancs suddenly has the puck. He puts it back down, but not before Dancs pops the puck through.
UM 3 PSU 0 EV 14:23 Assists: Martin & Piazza
Piazza goes behind the net to gather a loose puck. He almost gets pushed off of it by Folkes, but Luke Martin is in position to support. He deflects it off of Folkes’ clear, then turns the puck up-ice. Martin sees where he wants to go with the puck after three strides and launches a stretch pass.
That’s one stretchy stretch pass. Martin passes from the middle of the faceoff circle to…
…halfway between the blue line and center ice. Raabe has a breakaway and bides his time, waiting until he’s just a few feet away to make his move. He fakes hard to the backhand; Jones bites and gets into his butterfly. Raabe then pulls the puck back to his forehand, tucking it safely in around Jones’ outstretched right leg pad.
UM 3 PSU 1 EX 18:03 Assists: Myllari
Warren gets inside a Penn State skater and wins the race to the wall, but his clearing attempt is held in by Myllari. Penn State’s system being what it is, Myllari decides to throw the puck into a crowd in front of the net. It’s not a bad decision, really.
Marody is worth noting in this screen cap because he makes the decision to stop and get his stick out in an effort to take away the passing lane to Folkes, who’s cutting to the net behind Marody, rather than skate there with him. This proves to be the nail in Marody’s coffin once Myllari instead decides to shoot.
Penn State finally gets some puck luck, which they decidedly lacked all series. The puck hits Luke Martin’s skate and becomes a gift dropped directly into the lap of Folkes.
Folkes hits the wide open net because realistically, missing a net that open would be an indictment of his ability to play DI hockey.
UM 3 PSU 2 EX 19:06 Assists: Sucese & Biro
Slaker comes close to picking off a pass down the wall and then again comes close to knocking the puck away but is unable to do so. Biro then passes under Cecconi’s swinging stick to Sucese in the corner. Sucese fires, but I think his shot hits Piazza’s leg and is deflected to Myllari.
Myllari isn’t able to pick it up cleanly, though. He has to drop his left hand and pull up his right to gather the puck. Despite that delay, Sanchez is unable to get from the front of the net to Myllari’s shooting lane. He attempts to block the shot from relatively far away, but Myllari fires a slap shot past him. I’ve slowed this down and watched it frame by frame over and over again and I can’t tell exactly where this went in, but I think it beat Lavigne under his glove hand.
It was always going to happen. Michigan kept the nation’s top Corsi team in check on Friday night, but there was little to no chance that they’d make it through an entire series without running into the buzzsaw that is Penn State. Michigan held out through the midpoint of the second period, and from then on they looked gassed and the team that has 225 more shot attempts than the second-best Corsi team (Wisconsin) took over. Enter Hayden Lavigne.
I thought that Lavigne had been solid since his starting streak began, but he hadn’t stolen a game until Saturday night. He did this with his glove alone, robbing two would-be goals in the second period—one with a diving stab—and those two saves were the difference in the game when you consider the way the bounces went in the last two minutes. That’s to say nothing of his propensity for stopping second chances, which he did with frequency (PSU had 71 attempts on Saturday) and ease. Michigan did a fairly good job clearing rebounds, and Lavigne stopped them himself when they couldn’t.
Lavigne cleaned up on the penalty kill, too, but he only had to do that once. Penn State had chance after chance on their second power play Saturday, but the penalty kill otherwise held them in check. David said on the podcast that the PK seems reactive, which I agree with. They get set in their box and react to what they see and sometimes guys make mistakes, and Michigan often pays for them on the score sheet. Brian mentioned that installing a new system would presumably leave little time for special teams work, and I think he’s on to something there.
This is anecdotal, but I was talking to someone on the staff early in the season and was surprised how little preseason on-ice instruction time NCAA rules permitted. Between being forced to hit the ground running, two mandatory days off each week, and the winter break, it’s not surprising that Michigan’s starting to come together in one phase (even strength) with work needed in other areas at this point in the season. For three series Michigan has been solid at 5v5 at both ends of the rink, iced a second line that has taken the scoring pressure off the DMC line and a talented third line, and started a goalie who’s improving and hasn’t been worse than net neutral. This got them on the tournament bubble, and I don’t see them bouncing off.