Puck Preview: Akron State

Submitted by Brian on January 13th, 2012 at 12:41 PM


The Essentials  500[1]

WHAT Michigan at North Korea DPR
WHERE Fri: Value City Arena, Columbus
Sun: Baseball Stadium, Outside, Cleveland
WHEN 7:35 PM Friday
5:05 PM Sunday
LINE College hockey lines, junkie?
TV Friday: BTN
Sunday: FSD Plus

The Bolivian Air Force

Record. 14-4-3, 10-3-3 CCHA. Ohio State is your surprise conference leader with 34 points in 16 games; Notre Dame and Western are seven points back with two in hand, and then there's the avalanche of .500 teams including M.

Thanks to standing atop a conference that's winning a ton of nonconference games, OSU is #2 in RPI, PWR, and KRACH. Before consecutive ties with terrible Bowling Green last weekend they were #1.

This is pretty weird after OSU graduated a flood of seniors. I should correct myself in re OSU oversigning hypocrisy: it was last year new coach Mark Osiecki ran off a bunch of dudes. This year's attrition was mostly natural.

Previous meetings. Part of Michigan's awful first-half slide was an OSU sweep in Yost. Friday night was an even game in which shots were 33-30 OSU. Michigan failed to convert on a major penalty and OSU won 2-1 when Hunwick let in his worst goal of the season on a shot from almost the goal line along the boards.

Saturday was a wild affair that OSU won 6-5; when Chris Brown was given a major for boarding (but oddly not booted), OSU scored twice in 16 seconds to establish a 4-2 lead they would not relinquish. Michigan was outshot 37-31.

Dangermen. This may be a conference that wins a lot of games but it's not one with a ton of offensive firepower. Even the club at the top of the standings has one PPG scorer, and he's got exactly 1.0. That would be sophomore Chris Crane and his 12-9-21; senior Danny Dries is the other double-digit goalscorer with 11-7-18. Freshman Ryan Dzingel would appear to be their setup man (or passenger) with 5-12-17.

After the top line there's one guy with 11 points, three defensemen who have the usual lines (2-9-11, 0-11-11) for guys who are on the ice when other people score, and then a bunch of Glendening types with 9, 8, 7 points. It's not a team that scares you offensively. Highlights from their most recent game feature just one goal, that scored from about a half-foot out, and a shootout reminiscent of Michigan's most recent adventure in meaningless showpieces:

Firepower is lacking across the league.

Defense and goalie and whatnot. This is where OSU makes its hay. Cal Heeter is having an outstanding year with a .932 save percentage. He stole the Friday night matchup in Yost. Team defense seems to have something to do with this, as backup Brady Hjelle has played four games and sports a .942.

Junior Devon Krogh and senior captain Sean Duddy are the mainstays. I won't attempt to pretend I know anything about them.

Special teams. Your power plays per game:

East Anglia Michigan
PP For / G 5.8 5.2
PP Ag / G 5.7 5.2

The expectation is for even penalties for and against.

The expectation is not for those opportunities to come out equal. You know this by now: Michigan's special teams are awful. Michigan is at 15.6 percent, 42nd of 58 teams. OSU's isn't great at 20.6, but when you combine that with the penalty kill it is a significant advantage for OSU. OSU is 8th nationally at 87%; Michigan is 37th at 81%.

Michigan Vs Those Guys

Stay out the box. Michigan would prefer a low-penalty affair the likes of which they've been playing recently since OSU's much better at both power play and penalty kill.

Find someone to go with Di Giuseppe. Isolated on a line with guys who aren't scoring chance generators, Di Giuseppe's production has collapsed. Michigan can afford to put together a pure scoring line against an Ohio State team that doesn't have much scoring depth itself; I'd like to see Moffatt out there with PDG; Treais or the perpetually scratched Lindsay Sparks would be a solid third option.

Don't inexplicably scratch Mike Chiasson for a guy you can't put on the ice in the third period. Just sayin'.

Jon Merrill. Extant.

The Big Picture

Michigan is 11 points back of OSU and four back of ND and WMU with both those teams possessing two games in hand, so they've probably blown their shot at a conference title already.

This is still a huge series for Michigan's at-large chances. Playing the #2 team in RPI is an opportunity that will only come around… like four more times this year because of Michigan's brutal schedule. Er.

Anyway. Even a split is a slight positive. It would leave M's RPI static and would help their common opponents comparison*. That is somewhat offset by the 1-1 dragging their TUC record towards .500, though, so it's change on the fringes at best.

Anything better than a split will be a considerable asset; anything worse will be a setback.

*[Nitty-gritty details on that: the COP category has changed from a simple sum of W/L to sums of percentages. Michigan is currently getting 0% of available points against OSU; splitting will get them 25% of available points.]


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