PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME
|WHAT||Michigan vs CC|
|WHERE||Hundreds of miles from anywhere reasonable|
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
UPDATE w/ actual scouting. These are always a bit limited because the college hockey TV situation makes it almost impossible to scout beyond base numbers. Fortunately, Denver Blue has seen plenty of CC this year and provides a more in-depth look in a diary.
Record. 23-18-3, 13-13-2 WCHA. You wouldn't know it from CC's demolition of defending national champs Boston College but… eh… they were pretty mediocre this season. They limped to a .500 conference record and were actually outscored by WCHA opponents (by one, but still). That's why they're a four-seed.
Their nonconference schedule is kind of iffy, too. The good: a three-point weekend against RPI, a win over Air Force, and a sweep of UAH (yay?). The not so good: a loss to Fairbanks, a loss to Yale, and a narrow win over MSU followed up by a loss to Michigan(hey, that's us!) in the GLI.
If that's encouraging, the primary reason they're the opponent instead of favored BC is first-round pick and total ninja Jaden Schwartz, who 1) didn't play in the Michigan game because he was at the World Juniors, and 2) broke his ankle at that tournament and missed a couple months. Schwartz left for the WJC after a 3-0 win over SCSU that took CC to 9-7-1. When he returned against Bemidji on February 18th CC was 17-14-2. Um. With him they're 15-11-3… so yeah, apparently having him around hasn't done that much for their record. Still, that is one scary dude.
As far as recent performance goes, they bizarrely had five straight games against Wisconsin thanks to a first-round playoff matchup; they went 3-2 in those. They then beat UAA before losing to North Dakota in a WCHA semi. Then there was the BC demolition.
Previous meetings. As mentioned, Michigan beat CC 6-5 in a wild GLI final that saw Michigan blow a third period lead by giving up two quick goals, then reclaim it with two quick goals ten minutes later. Michigan outshot CC 39-30; CC scored on four of five power plays and gave up a shorthanded goal. Chris Brown, Jon Merrill, and Schwartz were all out of the lineup at the GLI. CC gets Schwartz back; Michigan's returners are offset by the losses of Brandon Burlon and David Wohlberg to injury.
Schwartz, Jaden Edition
Dangermen. Schwartz, obviously. He's CC's leading scorer (17-29-46) despite playing in only 29 of CC's 42 games. His brother Rylan is usually his linemate; he's more of an assist guy (9-28-37) for Jaden and second-leading scorer Stephen Schultz (17-28-45).
At first glance it looks like CC has a second line with considerable pop—Tyler Johnson leads the team in goals with 20—but in review the next two leading goal scorers get it done primarily on the power play. Twelve of Johnson's twenty were on the PP, as were 11 of Nick Dineen's 13. At even strength CC's second and third lines are only moderately threatening. On the power play they are demons.
The end result: CC is 21st in goals scored at 3.23, actually well behind #12 Michigan. Control the Schwartzes and stay out of the box and CC doesn't have much left. That's kind of a trick, though, isn't it?
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Sophomore Joe Howe got most of the work this year and was not good. His .901 save percentage is 57th amongst 71 qualifying goalies, and the guys below him are almost all on terrible teams that allow scads of quality shots. Either Howe is not good or the CC defense allows scads of quality shots. CC is 33rd in scoring D, allowing almost three goals per game.
Judging from last night's game it's a combination. Howe robbed Boston College on a half-dozen grade A opportunities and still let in four goals; the first one was a comedy of errors from Howe. It's entirely possible Michigan doesn't get the scoring chances BC did, but that GLI game argues otherwise.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||5.6||4.2|
|PP Ag / G||4.3||4.4|
CC goes on a hell of a lot of power plays. They've drawn 26 more than the #2 team in that category, North Dakota, and 59 more than Michigan. In the GLI game Michigan actually got six to CC's five, FWIW, but CC converted at an 80% clip.
Continuing with our theme of AWEFENSE coupled with horrible defense, CC is tied with BC for sixth on the PP, converting at 23.4% rate. They also lead the nation with 11 shorthanded goals conceded. (Michigan Tech is tied with them.) Michigan's PK remains mediocre.
Flip the units and it's a mediocre PP against a mediocre PK. In fact, CC and Michigan have identical numbers on the PK: both have killed 151 of 182. Michigan does have more shorthanded goals to their credit.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Neutralize the Schwartz: how? Michigan has last change so I imagine we'll see Merrill out there against that top line, but when it comes to forwards this seems like a situation where you'd put Hagelin out there with Rust and Scooter/Glendening/Lynch as you go all out to take that line out of the equation 5x5. That would bust up Michigan's lines, though, and you might not want to do that with zero practice days to get used to it.
Your other option is to stick with what you've got going, at which point you're probably throwing Rust/Glendening/Winnett out there, which is… like… not fast enough. It's either that or putting Brown and Caporusso out there with the Schwartzes, and who hates that idea? Everyone!
I think I'd re-form Rust, Hagelin, and Lynch but I'm just a guy, not Red. It'll be interesting to see what he goes with.
STAY OUT OF THE BOX. Tiny goalie plus snipers makes for a bad time.
STAY OUT OF THE BOX. I'm srs.
STAY OUT OF THE BOX. I'm srs!!!
The Big Picture
Win or die.
Excellent Daily story on the Zapruder goal:
“There was a kid behind the penalty box saying it was a goal,” senior forward Louie Caporusso said. “He just kept saying, ‘It’s a goal.’ ”
Yost Built screencapped the kid, too:
Michigan athletics loves pointing at things right now. FWIW, I disagree with his take on the Rust OT penalty. That was dangerous and deserved the call. Also, if you were wondering if CC's dominant performance meant the wrong team won last night from a Michigan perspective, don't be:
Boston College was 22-2-1 in their last 25 games. John Muse was 8-0 in the NCAA Tournament and something absurd like 22-1 in tournament play (NCAA and Hockey East, not sure if it counted the Beanpot).
Michigan had lost its last five NCAA Tournament overtime affairs, including 3-2 in double OT to Miami in the final of last year’s Midwest Regional.