It's Business Time Comment Count

Brian March 14th, 2011 at 1:30 PM

3/11/2011 – Michigan 5, Bowling Green 1 – 24-9-4
3/12/2011 – Michigan 4, Bowling Green 1 – 25-9-4, CCHA semifinalists


Ariel Bond/Daily

Michigan did what would have been extremely hard for them not to do by dispatching Bowling Green easily. It's business time.  Let's jump right to the bullets that aren't:


MFan in Ohio's usual breakdown awaits. Miami's sweep of a better opponent and some other jostling  sees the Redhawks move up into a tie for Michigan's fourth spot. Usually one-on-one ties are broken with the comparison and Michigan holds that despite getting swept by the Redhawks earlier this year, so Michigan is still nominally in possession of that last one seed.

Other threats:

  • Union was swept out of the ECAC playoffs by Colgate and won't be a threat; their RPI went from fourth to eighth and they've got no more games.
  • Denver swept Mankato and remains a threat but now they're in the meat of the WCHA playoffs. They get Bemidji State or UMD followed by probably North Dakota—you want UND to win that hypothetical matchup big time. By sweeping the Screaming Eagles Denver obliterated their own TUC record and now can't pass Michigan unless M loses.
  • UNO was swept by Bemidji State and went from threatening to take Michigan's comparison to hanging on to the last three seed. They're not a threat.
  • Notre Dame beat LSSU in three games, which hurts them to the point where they can't pass Michigan even with a head to head win.

It's pretty simple now. Michigan gets a one seed if they win the CCHA or if they split at the Joe and two other things happen: Not Denver wins the WCHA and Not Miami wins the CCHA. Root for anyone against Denver and you really want Notre Dame to take the first semifinal on Friday; if it's a Michigan-ND CCHA final and Denver's knocked out by whoever in the WCHA playoffs the one seed could be locked up before the final.

Not Bullets

Dirty. Thanks to reader Peter Saul you can relive Scooter's toe drag goal from Friday in gorgeous HD:

Just BG caveats apply but quick name Michigan's best forward not named Hagelin now that Wohlberg's out. Scooter, right?

Speaking of gurrrrgh. Losing David Wohlberg for the season is a heavy blow. With Llewellyn and Fallon gone—in Fallon's case temporarily—and Wohlberg and Caporusso out, Kevin Clare was the only healthy scratch on Saturday. Caporusso is supposed to be back this weekend but his health is going to be a big question. Michigan's going to need him to be his usual moderately effective self.

Break your nose six times next week and it will be a perfect comparison. Chris Brown's recent scoring run has taken him to nine goals, tied with Treais—on a run of his own—and Caporusso for fourth on the team behind Hagelin, Wohlberg, and Scooter Dominance. He's done this mostly by being a the big ugly net presence that he was supposed to be when he got drafted in the second round, and he's developing quite a knack for deflections* a la Ryan Smyth. He coolly directed a Merrill point shot into the net this weekend, for one. Of late it's usually Brown who is the source of "ohhhhh" moments when a defenseman's shot goes close after changing direction.

*[deflections FOR GLORY!]

Which one of you should be a forward next year? Mac Bennett or Lee Moffie: fight. Moffie now has six goals in 26 games. If he'd played as much as Caporusso he'd have eight, one fewer than Louie. His first on Saturday was a shorthanded bomb that caught the iron as it went in; his second was another lethal shot from distance. Meanwhile Bennett continues to lead any rush he can.

With Michigan bringing in a couple of guys who can fill in the sixth defenseman spot, if they don't lose anyone early it might be time to Scooterize one or the other. As far as the rest of this year goes, the reason Michigan is competing for the last one seed without seeming to be that good at scoring is that the defensemen are just insane. Merrill has seven goals, Moffie six, Burlon five, and the other three guys combine for seven. I'm not sure how that ranks nationally but I've scanned almost every CCHA team's roster for preview posts at this point and I can tell you that Michigan has probably doubled up the second-best D in the league in points.

I'm going to name a caffeinated alcoholic drink after you. Just Bowling Green caveats apply, but Lindsay Sparks, yo. Two goals and an assist on the weekend, one of them a display of impressive speed on the breakaway. Even if the big leap in competition level this weekend will make it hard to replicate that performance I'm still pretty excited to see Sparks-Treais-Moffatt hit the ice. They've been effective against third and fourth lines and since Michigan gets last change all weekend Michigan can shelter them from guys like Andy Miele.

Please bury me with it. With Michigan's depth already stretched to the breaking point it's time to adopt the same strategy deployed in the tourney last year: stop rolling the fourth line. Michigan should retrieve Lynch from it, put Winnett back down there, and put that fourth line out there once or twice a period with Winnett giving occasional people a rest when they need it.

I'd put Scooter on Hagelin's wing and reform the checking-plus-Scooter-domination line as Rust-Lynch-Glendening, give them the job of shutting down top lines, and get Vaughn some of Hagelin's playmaking ability to better further his utter dominance of opponents. I don't think Red will break up combinations that seem to be working well but Vaughn is Michigan's second-best forward right now and it seems like a bit of a waste to have him out there with people other than Hagelin.

I confess that I'm mystified by how much run Winnett has gotten over the course of his career. He spent three ineffective season on the point on the power play, including plenty of time this year, despite never getting off a checking line. This year literally every defenseman on the roster has more points than him except Kevin Clare and his 0-1-1 in 12 games. I'm sure he's a dutiful checker and good defensive player but at least Lynch has shown something other than that in his career thus far.

Go time. Is now. Don't expect much out of me on Friday. With the clear relevance of the other semi and Michigan's tourney game I'm probably going to head down to Detroit to catch the Michigan game, then head over to the Joe for the double-header.



March 14th, 2011 at 1:53 PM ^

Should we lose one game and Merrimack win out, Merrimack will pass us and take the 4-seed. On the other hand, should they lose to New Hamshire this weekend, we will take back that comparison and only be at risk of losing it should we get swept on the weekend.


March 14th, 2011 at 2:09 PM ^

Any one else extremely jealous of Brian's weekend? I want to be at the Joe so badly this weekend, I instead will be heading to Nashville to watch the Red Wings play! They were dumb enough to sell me tickets that come with all you can drink free beer!

Wolverine In Exile

March 14th, 2011 at 3:14 PM ^

that the injuries are piling up to the point when we get in the tourney, we won't have enough bodies to field a full 4-line team. Hunwick may actually have to steal a game for us to get a #1 seed or a win in the tourney...


March 14th, 2011 at 3:25 PM ^

will ever be on a wing, ever.  Ever.  EVER.  He's far too good at being center-y for him to move over.  Lynch is probably better as a center than a wing, but at least he's played wing in my life time and Rust is probably better at center than Lynch is.

Also, the problem with putting Scooter with Hagelin is that you're putting most (debateably all) of our legitimate scoring chances on the same line.  Hagelin and Scooter and Hagelin and Scooter.  Brown didn't do anything the first half and now has 9.  Below that, Glendening and Rust don't have a ton.  Lynch has 9, but 6 of those came early and 3 more came in a one weekend span.  Admittedly, not so much of the ice time, but I'm not sold he'll produce even with more of it.  Also, Lynch is solid defensively, but he's not as good as Scooter is.  Treais was strong for a portion in the middle of the season when nobody else was, but he and Moffatt and Sparks share mostly "YESYESYESYESYESohhhhh..." moments still.

Also, everybody seems pretty confident that Louie will be back next weekend.  On Yost Post someone saw him taking the press box stair at a run and Red said post-game that Louie skated Saturday morning and looked pretty good.


March 14th, 2011 at 6:17 PM ^

Louie practiced today, so hopefully he will be ready to go this weekend. That would solve some of the offensive concerns. 

Remember our arguments a while back about shooting from the point. What are your thoughts now? I think we've benefited a lot from Brown's emergence as a deflection specialist/janitor in front of the net. Moffie seems to have solidified his spot a bit too, despite his potential defensive misgivings.


March 15th, 2011 at 1:25 AM ^

liked shots from the point, with the potential for deflections and such.  I don't know that I was in love with them and I distinctly recall saying something about how Michigan's forwards couldn't keep the puck down low to save their lives and so the defense was forced to do pretty much all the offense and their normal defense and it wasn't working for me (or the team, so much).  That's been quite a bit better recently.  But through all that, I've never had a problem with someone getting the puck back to the point for a shot, I just don't think that should be the only time the puck is shot.  I think I also said something about not taking dumb shots from the point that are going to get blocked and lead to a breakaway on the other end and that obviously still applies.  But overall, I think point shots are a very valid way of scoring, especially with the way teams collapse around the net nowadays (I totally got that from Red, I get everything from Red or Mickey Redmond).

EDIT:  Also, Re: Winnett.  I can't tell you why Red continues to use him on the powerplay so much, but he originally put him there, because he had the potential to develop the skillset that would make him quite effective in that role.  Like the rest of his game, he never really grew into that potential.  He has had a big play or two from that spot (last year's run to the CCHA tournament title, against State, the second game when we went down like 3-0 in the first and Winnett tied it on the PP in, I believe the 3rd), but I agree I'm not really sure why he's still there.  The reason he was on the first line on Saturday is precisely becasue he is a good defensive player.  He's versatile enough to play either wing or center, he's good enough defensively to not be a liability there and he has enough experience where he won't make too many mistakes being on a completely new line to him for a night.  Since it was only for that one night, I'd do the same thing.  If Louie wasn't coming back next weekend, I might still put Winnett up there for the one game, but I'd replace him with somebody else in practice this week and for the games this weekend.


March 14th, 2011 at 3:31 PM ^

Merrimack wins out: they get the #1 seed, we are the #2 in that region unless we lose to Miami (in which case we probably get sent to Manchester), or we lose to Western, in which case let's not do that.

Merrimack loses a game and Michigan wins out: Michigan gets the #1.  The #2 could be Miami, Denver, or Merrimack.  Please Merrimack.  

Merrimack and Michigan both lose in the finals of their tournaments: Michigan gets the #1 if they lose to Notre Dame and Denver loses a game.  Miami gets the #1 if they win out and Merrimack loses.  Denver gets the #1 if Notre Dame wins the CCHA and Merrimack loses.  

I hope this clarifies things.  I doubt that it does.  We'll know a lot more on Saturday morning, but for now, root against Merrimack and Miami, and to a lesser extent Denver.   


March 15th, 2011 at 11:19 AM ^

I have Michigan able to climb as high as 3rd overall with two wins and fall as low as a 10th seed with two losses.

Several things have to play right for a 3rd seed: BC must lose to UNH and Miami has to lose to Notre Dame. Still, the prospects of playing either Denver, Notre Dame or Miami in the regional final would be high in many scenarios I ran. 

If all the other top conference seeds win out, the best Michigan can do is the 4th overall seed. Michigan has to first hope for a Notre Dame win over Miami to eliminate them for overtaking MIchigan for the last #1 regional seed. MIchigan just has to beat WMU to secure that, if ND wins. Even if ND beats Michigan in the final, and Miami beats WMU, with all the other conference top seeds winning, Michigan would be 4th overall, having the last #1 regional seed. (Miami would be 5th, ND 6th, Merrimack 7th, Denver 8th.)

I concur, though- root against Merrimack and BC and root for UNH in the HEA; root for UND in the WCHA and/or for Denver to lose; Quietly root for the Irish next friday against Miami and for Michigan to obviously win. I'll get greedy and even ask WMU to upset Miami on saturday- to avoid a 4-5 match-up with Michigan (that would probably set up a rematch with ND.)

To Brian's non-bullet points:

* Losing Wohlberg really sucks. He was getting hot, 4 goals in 4 games.

* Cappy will be back. Skated hard at practice on Monday, even won a race according to MIchigan Daily reporters. Of course, it would be nice if he brought his offense with him.

* Forward candidate next season: Lee Moffie, good shot, potential to get "physically bigger". I think Bennett's defensive upside is slightly better and so is his speed. Reminds me of Langlais. Of course, this ship will sail if Burlon or Merrill bolt.  

* Agree on sitting the 4th line, but then again depth is suddenly an issue in a physical game or one in which Michigan takes a boatload of penalties. The bigger question becomes, who do you sit: Rohrkemper or DeBlois? My bet is the smaller Rohrkemper.

* No guesses on the line combos- expect to see Brown-Capo-Hagelin at some point, though. Agree that Rust will stay in the middle, probably the second line with Vaughn and Glendening... who may be banged up- he and Langlais sat out of practice on Monday. I liked Sparks-Treais-Moffatt, but their down side is their defensive liabilities.

I think by having Lynch center the fourth line, Red is spreading the offensive potential. Lynch has been snakebit this season but can interchange as a third line center or wing. 




March 14th, 2011 at 4:52 PM ^

"Just BG caveats apply but quick name Michigan's best forward not named Hagelin now that Wohlberg's out. Scooter, right?"

I would say most talented has to be Capporusso, but his flashes of brilliance (like his whole first two years and the occasional moment since) never add up to the whole that I feel they could.


March 14th, 2011 at 6:12 PM ^

I think he was keeping in mind that Louie has been hurt and just skated with the team today for the first time. Also, I don't know if I would say for sure that Caporusso has been the second best forward, though you can certainly make his case. Hagelin's been the best and a couple of guys might compete for second.


March 14th, 2011 at 4:58 PM ^

I went to only my second game of the hockey season on Saturday (first was the Big Chill), so this is based on limited evidence, but Winnett seemed like kind of a dirty player. His stats don't look that way but he threw an elbow at one point and seemed to be trying to start something another time. Is there some reason he would have been especially frustrated in that game (e.g., maybe something happened in the first game on Friday)?


March 15th, 2011 at 1:44 PM ^

Ben is a disciolined player (7 pen/ 14 min coming into the weekend)  that probably got cheesed off at the chippy play both firday and saturday. BG plays an edgy/borderline dirty style. There is no love lost between the teams and Winnett had enough of their dooshery, especially when the game was basically decided.

Besides, whether we biased fans look at Wohlberg's injury on friday night as a dirty hit or not, it was enough to nerve up the guys. 


March 15th, 2011 at 12:20 PM ^

Union was not swept by Colgate, they lost 2 games to 1.  On that note, Colgate became the first 12 seed ever to advance to the semifinals of the ECAC tournament.