Puck Preview: Alaska Comment Count

Brian January 21st, 2011 at 2:55 PM


alaska-nanooksThe Essentials 

WHAT Alaska @ Michigan
WHERE Yost Ice Arena
Ann Arbor, MI
WHEN 7:35 PM Fri/Sat
THE LINE College hockey lines, junkie?
Saturday: BTN.com
(ie, not TV)


Record. 10-8-4, 7-7-4 CCHA. The Nanooks have won two of their four shootouts and are one of a remarkable four teams sitting on a .500 conference record, give or take some shootout points. They're tied for fifth in the league with those teams, a tiny bit behind WMU.

In terms of goal differential, Alaska is +4 on the season and +1 against their CCHA schedule.

Previous meetings. Michigan split a pair in Fairbanks, losing 3-0 on Friday before rebounding with a 5-2 win on Saturday.

Dangermen. Goals have been hard to come by for Alaska. They're languishing at 50th (of 58) in scoring.

Andy Taranto, last year's CCHA freshman of the year, leads the team with seven goals. Four others follow with six. Freshman forward Cody Kunyk and junior defenseman Joe Sova lead the team with 16 points—0.72 per game. No one puts the fear of God into you, but a half-dozen players are at least okay at putting the puck into the net.

Defense and goalie and whatnot. The only entity to have seen time other than junior Scott Greenham has been Open Net. In 22 games Greenham's racked up a .926 save percentage and a 1.98 GAA—he, and the Nanook defense, are your answers to the question "how can a team scoring two goals a game be .500?"

Alaska is fifth in scoring defense at 2.14 goals allowed per game. Possibly heartening item: Ferris State was second before last weekend's series and Michigan doubled up their averages. They're now sixth.

Special teams. Your power plays per game:

  Alaska Michigan
PP For / G 4.6 4.5
PP Ag / G 4.6 4.7

Michigan lags ever so slightly. As to what happens when the specialty units get on the ice, Michigan's power play is mediocre (19.6%, 20th) but Alaska's is worse (15.8%, 38th). Michigan's penalty kill has been terrible (80.3%, 41st) and Alaska's mediocre (84%, 18th). This is a push.

Michigan Vs Those Guys

Scoring first highly recommended. It is always highly recommended but is even more so when you're playing a team with the profile of Alaska. This is also an opportunity for Michigan to jump on an opponent on Friday night—Alaska has traditionally been jet-lagged and horrible on Fridays, but much more competitive the next night.

Don't give up anything cheap. A team with issues scoring like Alaska is going to have a tough time against Michigan's deep and solid D corps/Hagelin unless there's a parade to the box or some of the guys in the bottom six/third pairing are turnover machines. Issue: turnover machines exist on those lines. Lee Moffie's +/- will be a bellwether.

Fire them from many places. Open shots from the point should come paired with traffic and should just be taken. Alaska's good defensively and any opportunity to chuck it at the net is a good one, especially when you've got the shooters at the point Michigan does.

The Big Picture

It's still too early to start poking the PWR in earnest, but that didn't stop the NCAA committee from making it slightly worse by going back to an old definition of what a "team under consideration" is. A few years ago it was anyone with an RPI of .500 or better. It was changed to the top 25 in RPI for a few years and now it's suddenly back to the old style, for whatever reason.

This ups the number of TUCs from 25 to 34 and slightly increases the stupidity of that category since now games against #1 are equivalent to games against #34. Before you had to be 25th to get that equality. Also it's ridiculous that six teams with an under .500 record are "under consideration" when the NCAA banned under .500 teams from getting at-large bids after Wisconsin managed that trick one year.

At this instant the change is a slight help to Michigan since it includes Michigan's 5-1-1 record against Ferris and MSU; they move up one slot to fifth in the revised rankings. Unfortunately, a quick glance at the individual comparisons suggests this is about as far as Michigan can move up. The PWR has morphed into a system that slightly alters RPI. Michigan is sixth but manages to make up a big difference in RPI with BC for stupid reasons; those may correct. Meanwhile, the top four all have massive advantages in that category that will be tough to overcome unless Michigan tears through the back half of its schedule. Even then it may take a collapse from teams at the top to snag a top seed.

It's much easier to envision a scenario where Michigan falls down the rankings; they're at the top of a tightly packed bunch. The difference between Michigan and #4 Denver is equal to the difference between Michigan and #16 RPI. Stumbles will see them give ground quickly.


Yost Built has ten things for you.

Bonus: Michigan picked up another 2011 commit, a Travis Lynch from the USHL. He's got 13 points in 33 games and sounds like he's going to be a checker and penalty killer a la Scooter. If they can find one more scoring line type that would just about finish the class.



January 21st, 2011 at 3:08 PM ^

Since, I was visting the good ol' hometown of Muskegon, MI this past weekend I decided to take in a USHL game between the Muskegon Lumberjacks and the Green Bay Gamblers. This was a split-series that had a total of 20 goals(2-6 and 8-4). Either way I got to see Travis Lynch play and I thought that he was a good checker and seemed that everone on the Green Bay team had more speed. Definitely look forward to him wearing the Maize and Blue.


January 21st, 2011 at 3:17 PM ^

So a sweep over Alaska would be quite nice considering they are around 18th in the PWR and unlikely to drop from the top 34 after this weekend. 

Then we can root for Alaska, Ferris, and MS...uh nevermind for the rest of the season in order to bolster our rankings. 

What I would really like to see is another Michigan sweep of the regular season and playoff CCHA championships. That would keep me warm through this long winter.

Then again, so would a national title!


January 21st, 2011 at 3:26 PM ^

Strategy for Friday; play like it's Saturday.  Strategy for Saturday; play like it's Saturd....oh you get the picture.

I much prefer this season where our only issue seems to be what seed will get get and what regional will be draw, unlike last year where at point we were staring at the real possibility of not making the tournament.


January 21st, 2011 at 7:53 PM ^

I love that video too.  It's like watching a Kurosawa or a Kubrick film.  Or a vintage Chuck Barris show.  You just know you're in the hands of a master.  I mean, every time I watch this video-- and I have watched it many, many times-- I have a new question about the bear's motivation.  

Obviously I get the motivation behind the inciting incident in the opening sequence. He's pissed about how global warming, caused by western industrialized nations'  gluttonous appetite for self-gratification, as represented by the icebreaking Carnival cruise ship, has upended the nature's cycle by disturbing his annual iceberg-encased hibernation.  He reacts on instinct, as any giant mutant electro ice bear would: by summoning his lighting stick and wreaking complete destruction upon the ship.

And, though it took me a a couple of repeat viewings, I feel like I get why he takes things to the next level by scrambling his fellow giant mutant electro ice bear wingmen into the giant mutant ice bear sized F-16 fighters.  Oh the delicious irony!  Man's hubris ("Sure we'll build you some giant mutant ice bear fighter jets!  What could go wrong?") returns to  deliver a hellfire apocalypse upon those well-established symbols of human excess:  the college hockey arena.

And sure, I totally understand why the lead ice bear finds it necessary to nuke Earth in order to save Earth.  This is the human condition distilled.  Only through death do we truly know life.

But what I simply can't figure out is why he doesn't give his ice bear wingmen a head's up on the forthcoming planetary destruction.  What did they do to deserve that?  They were his wingmen-bears, man!  I know from a whole bunch of Jerry Bruckheimer movies that you don't leave your wingman-bear.  And you definitely don't NUKE your wingman-bear.  I mean, unless they specifically say: "Forget about me, do you hear?  I'm a gonner,bra.  You nuke this rock!"

This is not to say that there isn't a very good reason the filmmaker made this choice, because I know there is.  I just don't get it.  



January 21st, 2011 at 3:34 PM ^

I would assume that Alaska has been in the lower 48 for the past week, having played at Notre Dame last weekend. That is their usual M.O.  Fly down for a weekend series, stay down here for a week and play another weekend and then fly home to play one or more series. Minimizes jet-lag, time away from school and flight expenses.

Alaska Hokie

January 21st, 2011 at 6:44 PM ^

When you look at how series develop, you notice that when teams visit Alaska, they tend to fall into the jet-lag trap a bit more than Alaska does when it goes Outside. A lot of fans here know to go to the Friday night games, because you're more likely to see the Nooks win than on Saturday.

In addition, the Nooks only just broke a long losing streak, so they're still very motivated to at least split road series from here on out.


January 21st, 2011 at 6:20 PM ^

The polar bear is no freak bass.  Does anyone else picture a bug-eyed fish when you see/hear freak bass?  But what is there to make fun of re the polar bear?  He destroys all our rivals and the graphics are solid.  With the new screens coming to yost next year, we will need a sweet video.  A hockey playing, fighter jet flying, exploding puck shooting, ginormous wolverine would pump me up.


January 21st, 2011 at 4:33 PM ^

Louie Caporusso has 4-5--9 in 10 games against the Nanooks. Carl Hagelin hasn't scored, but has 6 assists. Chris Brown has 6 points in just five games. Shawn Hunwick has never faced Alaska.

I hope this is the weekend that gets Louie going scoring-wise. Alaska seems to be pretty strong defensively so the key for me is that we convert chances when we get them. 


January 21st, 2011 at 5:43 PM ^

That damn bear is nearly invincible.  Everything around him distintigrates into a ball of flames.  Cruise ships, volcanos, planets, questionable educational institutions.  Michigan doesn't needs planes though...our helmets got wings. 

kevin holt

January 21st, 2011 at 7:06 PM ^

Is there a stream available? seems like FSD never streams online anywhere, and I hate it. Had to come home for the weekend, selling tickets hurts a little, like watching a child leave the nest