Hockey Preview: Northeastern, NCAA Tournament

Submitted by Brian on March 23rd, 2018 at 4:49 PM

northeastern-rankingsTHE ESSENTIALS

WHAT #8 Michigan (20-14-3) vs
#9 Northeastern (23-9-5)
WHERE Alumni Association Of The University Of Michigan Center
Worchester, MA      
WHEN 4:30 PM Saturday
LINE Michigan 52% (KRACH)
TV ESPN News

they're actually #9

THE US

Hello. It's tournament time. Hockey tournament time. If you don't recall what this is like, jump out of a plane with a backpack that might contain a giant middle finger instead of a parachute. Eat fugu prepared by a squeaky-voiced teenager. Play Plinko for your soul.

The team is not just happy to be here, I'm sure, but I am. Michigan was 8-10-2 halfway through the season and I was not even bothering to check their Pairwise; a 12-4-1 run later and Michigan isn't just in the tournament but a two seed. Managing that without second round pick Will Lockwood is all the more impressive.

Michigan's special teams are terrible and they're not exactly puck-dominant yet and Kyle Connor isn't walking through that door, but they're here and this tourney is dumb and this year that's the way we like it. So bring on the bouncing pucks and 24-year-old sophomores. Let's go.

THE THEM

This is already a banner season for Northeastern what with the Huskies' first Beanpot win in 30 years and only their sixth tourney bid in program history. They've done it on the back of an explosive top line and killer power play; the 1,000 foot view here is that Michigan is playing a doppleganger of the Motte-Compher-Connor team from a couple years back.

Top scorer and Hobey favorite Adam Gaudette even has a certain Kyle Connor air about him:

Those power play goals from an absurd angle are very Connor. Both players have the ability to lift the puck even while in tight and can get a one-timer off in virtually any situation. Gaudette's 30-30-60 in 37 games isn't quite Connor's 35-36-71 in 38, but it's… uh… not bad.

Pairing Gaudette with a Hensick-esque puck wizard in Dylan Sikura

…is a good time. The third member of Northeastern's big line, Nolan Stevens, isn't as explosive but still put up a 24-17-41 line. These guys are assassins on the power play, with 35 of Northwestern's 43 PP goals on the season. They are essentially 100% responsible for Northeastern's PP's 27% success rate, which is third nationally.

That power play is a huge threat and is likely to be the reason Michigan loses this game, if they do. But if Michigan can either stay out of the box or miraculously survive multiple PPs unscathed, they should have an advantage 5v5. Michigan's top line of Calderone-Marody-Dancs has just six fewer even strength goals than Northeastern's assassins; the Huskies have been outshot in half their games this year and are below 50% in Corsi; KRACH greatly prefers Michigan's schedule strength (13th vs 36th).

Northeastern doesn't get a ton from their lines 2-4. Freshman Zach Solow has a 5-21-26 line built largely on six points in a season-opening series against Sacred Heart and his status as the fifth guy on the top PP unit. He has seven points on the season that were even strength and not against Atlantic hockey. From there scoring falls off into the 0.5 PPG range. Lines two and three have a lot of 5-8-13 seasons and the like. Michigan should have an advantage there when the Slaker line is on the ice.

On defense, Jeremy Davies is a puck-mover who is the lone D on the top PP. He's got a 6-28-34 line; the other notable guy is sophomore Ryan Shea, who was a fourth-round pick in 2015.

GOALIE

Double whammy here as Northeastern's goalie has an edge on Hayden Lavigne. Also he's Keith Primeau's son, making some of us feel very old. Cayden Primeau has a .932 save percentage, which is significantly better than Lavigne's .910. The matchup is closer at even strength, where Lavigne has a .925 to Primeau's .936.

THE KEYS

STAY OUT OF THE BOX. STAY OUT OF THE BOX. I THINK THIS IS FAIRLY SELF EXPLANATORY.

STAY OUT OF THE BOX. LOUDER FOR THE FOLKS IN THE BACK.

Unleash Quinn Hughes. Hughes has emerged into the kind of player who can dominate a game, and it's safe to say Northeastern hasn't seen anything like him this year, because nobody has. Hughes coulda shoulda won the Ohio State game but rang the bar twice and narrowly missed another goal. Michigan's players are fairly prosaic outside of Hughes and he's the best shot at unlocking a team that doesn't give up a ton of goals.

STAY OUT OF THE BOX. PLZ

PREDICTIONS

are stupid

Comments

lhglrkwg

March 23rd, 2018 at 6:16 PM ^

I kinda like Northeastern to go deep in this tournament. A killer top line and a great PP can get you places this time of year. I expect us to lose tomorrow but I'll still be happy. Year one has already exceeded my expectations and things are only going up from here. 

But hey, the tournament is crazy. Maybe we'll win it all

stephenrjking

March 23rd, 2018 at 7:00 PM ^

I can't recall ever expecting less from the hockey team in the tournament, 2 seed or otherwise.

So they'll probably turn into a puck-dominating Death Star and win the whole thing.

Or not. Who knows? Two games in and SCSU is already out with Notre Dame barely, barely through.

crg

March 23rd, 2018 at 7:02 PM ^

So... What are they supposed to do about the box again? Explore the inside of it? Gift wrap it? Shoot the puck into it? The game notes are unclear about the player's relationship to the box?

JWG Wolverine

March 23rd, 2018 at 7:56 PM ^

This time of year always gets me excited! How about we conquer the Final Four AND the Frozen Four??

It truly is hockey plinko, and we could very well lose tomorrow, but we could also win it all. Hopefully the latter is still a possibility after tomorrow's game.

BEAT NORTHEASTERN!

GO BLUE!!!!!!

 

 

Lou MacAdoo

March 23rd, 2018 at 10:35 PM ^

Two things. One, sure Conner and Gaudette are good with their video game numbers, but neither will ever be as good as Jimmy Vesey. Yes I’m still bitter. Two, Mel’s strategy on the PP should be to keep a defenseman on that backside at all times. Just don’t let Gaudette shoot. Even if he’s behind the net.