Treading Water, Losing Time

Submitted by Brian on January 25th, 2010 at 1:00 PM

1/23/2010 – Michigan 2, Ferris State 0 – 14-10-1, 9-7-0-1 CCHA
1/24/2010 – Michigan 2, Ferris State 3 – 14-11-1, 9-8-0-1 CCHA

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I think I've come to this conclusion about the Saturday game, in which Michigan tied it up with two minutes left only to concede a game losing goal with under thirty seconds on the clock: GODDAMMIT.

In a little more detail, perhaps. There's no shame in losing to a Ferris State team that basically lived up to their advance billing as a very good team, but it's super frustrating when the three goals scored are

  1. a terribly soft short-handed goal on a nothing play
  2. the direct result of a really obvious tripping call, and
  3. in the final minute of the game.

If Michigan had done better than .500 in the first half of the season it would be easy to let the game go as a combination of misfortune, an excellent opponent, and a tough road venue, but they didn't. The thing stands as a giant missed opportunity in a season that doesn't have many left.

This post probably should be focusing on the full two-minute 5-on-3 kill and a weekend in which Michigan proved itself equal to a team that's solidly in the tournament, but it's hard to do anything but fret when your RPI is in the high teens and you're flirting with the end of a 20-year run in the NCAA tourney. Does Mel Pearson look nervous above or am I projecting? Does it matter?

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The great reversal. What a weird series. Despite the 2-0 final score, the Friday game was full of end-to-end rushes and wide open play, with both teams just missing on a number of pretty passing plays. And despite the three extra goals on Saturday, that night's game was a slog where I don't recall a single scoring chance for Michigan in the first period. I don't know if Michigan's breakout caught Ferris by surprise or what, but it was weird. I was shocked that a team with defensive numbers like Michigan State in all its dead-puck Ron Mason glory would get into an end-to-end game like that.

Part of the deal Friday night was a very fast Ferris team pressing hard after they fell behind, which resulted in a lot of open ice—but few odd-man-rushes—once Michigan broke the pressure. When Michigan returned to the ice in the third just looking to close it out, that period became very boring. Saturday was mostly Michigan chasing thanks to the uber-soft shortie. With this team, I buy that first-goal-all-important stuff. The last two weekends are plenty of evidence.

People of note. I thought it was odd that Scooter Vaughn sat out last weekend in favor of freshman Jeff Rohrkemper and still think it's odd after Vaughn got back on the ice against Ferris and played very well, picking up a first assist on Friday and generally being the sort of fourth-liner that gets noticed for positive contributions. I guess you want Rohrkemper to know he's going to get in some games and if you're going to scratch one of the forwards it's probably going to be Scooter.

Louie Caporusso continues to struggle mightily. He's scored once in the past nine games. He has tried 60 spectacular dangles in that time, 58 of which have ended in pucks turned over in dangerous areas. The other two were admittedly pretty sweet scoring chances. I'm worried about him and also AJ Treais, who certainly seems like he should be putting up more points. He's not, and the longer he goes without having something click the less likely it is to ever happen. See also: Ben Winnett.

Greg Pateryn drew in for MGoWhippingBoy Tristin Llewellyn and was just okay. He didn't take any bad penalties but there was one incident where even a relative hockey neophyte like myself could see that he was moving the wrong direction like five seconds before a really poor attempt at a check was blown by and created a two-on-one. Lee Moffie, on the other hand, is super smooth and impresses more each game.

Bryan Hogan… ghaahahhah. Gah.

On that tripping call and other things. I didn't have a lot of complaints Friday night about the refereeing except for Steve McInchak's usual determination to let every post-whistle cheapshot go unpunished, but I also did not have the benefit of replay. Seemingly every call for and against Michigan in the Saturday game was wrong, most comically the Chad Langlais penalty where he took a holding the stick call after he'd established position in a race for the puck and bodied a Ferris player off so that his defense partner could collect the puck. I don't recall the bad calls on Ferris as specifically, but I remember thinking to myself

And then there was the second goal, where David Wohlberg was tripped coming out of the faceoff dot and then rushed out to the point at a speed that allowed Ferris's defenseman to step around him and pick a corner. That's an obvious call you have to make.

Why the CCHA allows McInchak and Some Guy I've Never Seen Before to ref a really important series when there's an opportunity to stash them at Western-Bowling Green I'll never know. In their stead we could have gotten the marginally more competent BG-WMU crew of Confused Marmoset and PCP-Enraged Physics Professor.

JMFJ. Two days after the Dean Lombardi incident, Jack Johnson is where?

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At Yost, playing Score-O in his letter jacket. Not even Danny Fardig wore his, and if I was Danny Fardig I would never take mine off. Jack Johnson is awesome.

Still slightly to the good. Splitting with a team as highly regarded as Ferris is in the PWR is still progress: Michigan gained a spot over the weekend and now sits #18.  Ferris, on the other hand, dropped from 5 to 8.) In the brief window between the Friday and Saturday games Michigan was technically in the tournament at #14.

PWR is really jittery, though, and the current RPI will predict the future PWR better than the current PWR. In that, Michigan was static.

Re-evaluating the 14 of 17 meme. I suggested that Michigan had to storm the last half of its schedule to have any hope of an at large bid and with the Saturday loss Michigan is off pace. They've used half of those three losses in six games. Doom?

Well… it does look pretty doomy. Sioux Sports shows that Michigan has to win nine of its last eleven to move into an RPI spot better than the last team in the tournament. If we can give them a little more slack it's not mch more: basically we don't have to count the Alaska tie against them.

This weekend is huge, huge, huge. HUGE. For one, it's against Michigan State. For two, State has slid of late and is now on the bubble itself. They're on the right side at the moment but Michigan could—probably would—pass them with a weekend sweep. That would give them the two head-to-head points they lost earlier back and probably send M past the Spartans in RPI. At the very least, Michigan would put that comparison back in play. Anything short of a sweep and that comparison is gone and Michigan will have spent another weekend doing nothing in particular to move on up in the world.

Before the weekend I suggested that 3-1 in this four game stretch was just about required if Michigan was going to be in position for an at-large bid, and they're 1-1. There are nine games plus the CCHA playoffs left after this weekend, which is a lot of time, but if they want to give themselves any leeway at all down the stretch they'll have to take a win and a tie from the weekend.

Comments

lunchboxthegoat

January 25th, 2010 at 1:12 PM ^

UGH. When will this black cloud lift over the state of Michigan sports? The pistons are brutal. M football is under construction. The Tigers traded one of their premeir players because they've no shot in the world to make the playoffs. The Lions are the lions and therefore do not count in this argument (neither does Sparty.) M Hoops decided to fall off the face of the earth at the beginning of the season and spend the rest of the year middling around. The Red Wings apparently ran into Michigan ____ hating God and he decided he was going to try his hand at the pro ranks...And they've yet to recover. And then M hockey. It used to be all I had was sports in this state to escape the depressing cycle of bad news that inevitably would come pouring down on this state...now I don't even have that. Cue "The Price is Right" losing jingle....

david from wyoming

January 25th, 2010 at 1:42 PM ^

The Tigers traded one of their premeir players because they've no shot in the world to make the playoffs.

Do you not remember last season? You know, the one where we tied for the AL Central and lost the tie-breaker game in extra innings? Yes, we didn't make the playoffs last season...but you literately can't get any closer to making the playoffs then we did last year.

I'm not going to write off the entire 2010 season in January just yet. The Tigers didn't trade Curtis because of going into 'rebuild' mode.

zlionsfan

January 25th, 2010 at 8:25 PM ^

I think you meant

"... traded one of the guys who used to be a solid player but fell off to the point that he couldn't even bat ninth against lefties."

A leadoff hitter with a .327 OBP is not a leadoff hitter. An outfielder with a .239 SLG against lefties is a platoon player, and the Tigers already had enough of those. (.239. His OBP vs. lefties was actually higher than that.) Yeah, Curtis was a solid CF, but when you already have weak bats at SS and C and a rapidly-weakening bat in RF, you've got to make changes somewhere, and those changes are probably going to start with the players most likely to be high-salary players in 2010.

Another way of looking at it is that they traded an arbitration-eligible guy for a major-league-minimum guy (assuming Jackson is on the 40-man roster), and I think we will be seeing more payroll reduction prior to April.

Of course by then my nuts will probably have recovered from that stupid game. A punch I could have handled, but I think the hammer-and-anvil treatment was excessive.

saveferris

January 27th, 2010 at 9:36 AM ^

The kid who got to shoot Score-O with Johnson and Fardig was the son of my roommate from our U of M days. He came out with these glasses that had flashing LEDs in the frames. Students gave him an "AWESOME GLASSES"! chant (they were pretty awesome). After Score-O, Jack and Danny took a picture with the little guy and signed his jersey. Classy guys who make me proud I went to Michigan.

Blue In NC

January 25th, 2010 at 1:30 PM ^

One nice thing - the TV broadcasters spent a bunch of time on Saturday interviewing Jack (who said Red was a great coach) and then separately breaking down how Michigan had placed so many players into the pros, etc. It was basically an unspoken direct reply to Lombardi's quotes. Basically, almost a recruiting pitch for UM Hockey.

TorontoBlue

January 25th, 2010 at 1:34 PM ^

C'mon guys, let's bear down and get qualified for the NCAA's. How much would it suck to have the Frozen Four in Detroit and it's the first time in 20 years we don't qualify? Ugh. . .

Jack Johnson is my kind of Michigan Man!

I watched the Sat night game on CBS and Kampfer's penalty in the last minute of the game, OMG please don't ever do that again because i wasted a perfectly good Keith's throwing it against the basement wall. . . . .

GO BLUE!

rsblue

January 25th, 2010 at 2:51 PM ^

After his first miss he held the blade of the stick up as if he was uncomfortable with the curve. JMFJ doesn't need excuses but when you look at the picture he clearly wasn't using his own stick.

BONUS: The sunglasses the 3rd contestant was wearing may have been the funniest part of the game.

saveferris

January 27th, 2010 at 8:25 PM ^

The sunglasses the 3rd contestant was wearing may have been the funniest part of the game

You mean these?

The suave little guy in the glasses posing with Jack Johnson and Danny Fardig is my old U of M roommate's son, Adam. In case you're wondering, yes those glasses have LEDs in the frames that blink when you turn them on. Yes, the student section chanted, "AWESOME GLASSES!" when he took the ice. And finally, yes, those glasses are 100% pure awesome.

DoubleMs

January 25th, 2010 at 2:15 PM ^

List of Michigan Defensemen that are better at their job than Chad Langlais (ordered by skill)

Chris Summers
Tristin Llewellyn
Brandon Burlon
Eric Elmblad
Lee Moffie
Steve Kampfer
Greg Pateryn

Red does not play walk-ons, otherwise Elmblad would be out there. Kampfer has fallen off his game this year a little, but still is talented enough to make the cut.

MGoAndy

January 25th, 2010 at 2:23 PM ^

The only area where Llewellyn is better than Langlais is at fucking up. Every time I see Llewellyn on the ice I'm expecting an incredibly idiotic penalty/giveaway.

Pateryn is also clearly not better. He looks lost out there, very hesitant, doesn't move the puck well, often times well out of position.

Langlais is serviceable. I'd rather see Summers, Burlon, Moffie, and Kampfer out there ahead of him, but he's better than the rest of the guys you listed.

DoubleMs

January 25th, 2010 at 2:37 PM ^

Clearly you don't actually pay attention to Llewellyn's play.

Langlais does 1 good thing for every 20 times he fucks up. The reason people are so high on him is because that 1 good thing is usually pretty sweet (great shot), and the fuckups are so subtle that you have to watch a lot of hockey to realize that he's the one that fucked everything up on a goal. Llewellyn makes 20 great defensive plays for every 1 time he fucks up, but the 1 time is usually a pretty bad penalty.

919 Brown

January 25th, 2010 at 2:49 PM ^

Why the CCHA allows McInchak and Some Guy I've Never Seen Before to ref a really important series when there's an opportunity to stash them at Western-Bowling Green I'll never know.

A-friggin-men! I wasn't at Yost for the game, but I was in Big Rapids on Saturday and I asked the same thing. I know someone had mentioned it before, but when the crowd is yelling "we want Shegos!", you know it's pretty bad. However, it wasn't quite as bad as having to listen to that old man stand and yell (coach) from the back row for the entire game. Brilliant things like, "skate!" "pass!" "fore check!" "shoot!" "stop him!" and on and on... ugh, it was killing me.

LiveFromYost

January 26th, 2010 at 10:42 AM ^

At least Langlais has a slapshot and isn't afraid to shoot it. When's the last time you saw Chris Summers fire a heater from the blue line? I'll clue you in - Never!

Langlais has skill and puck handling abilities. On the other hand Llewellyn is undisciplined and takes too many dumb penalties.

Burlon is a stud and will continue to improve. Moffie is also a stud and has a bright future.

Kampfer is usually solid, but he also plays undisciplined and takes dumb penalties - See Saturday night's trip in Big Rapids.

919 Brown - Was there too and heard that old man. Completely and utterly annoying. He probably hasn't stepped onto the ice once in his life, but yet he's an expert and "know it all."

streaker

January 26th, 2010 at 5:53 PM ^

The only one not mentioned by LiveFromYost was Pateryn, who has gotten about as much vote of confidence from Red as Llewellyn.At least he doesn't take the really dumb penalties. He just gets pylon-ed.

Hopefully both players will either improve (Pateryn a soon to be Jr, Llewellyn a Senior) or find something interesting to download on their cellphones (as Llewy was doing Friday night)up in the Yost scratch zone near section 11.

Having (Elmblad) Summers and Kampfer depart will leave some room for competition from the freshmen (Bennett, Clare, Merrill)in 2010-11.