I tired, guys (Barron)
Ugh. Despite the score being only 4-3 (and 3-2, M for most of the game), Michigan's offense was mostly non-existent. My final CORSI count was 69-36. That's a 34% possession rate. Woof. When Michigan was actually able to get a hold of the puck, they were usually trying to fling it down the ice for a clear or attempt to use their speed to create an OMR going the other direction. Obviously, its still early in the season and they're playing with quite a few freshman forwards (5 of the 11 dressed), but its tough to see who is going to generate the offense. Will Lockwood has some potential. He had a 2v1 and eschewed the pass and picked a top corner to give M the lead early in the 2nd. After that, though...there was very little. There was a little flurry in the 2nd where M was able to get into inside the circles, but for most of the game, the few chances they did have came from the perimeter. Alex Kile has some handles and a shot but he's played the best when someone is able to get him the puck. I'm not sure who that will be, at this point. Two of M's goals came on special teams and neither looks super repeatable.
To the eye test, I honestly didn't think the defense was too terrible. There did not seem to be a lot of huge gaffes or awful DZTOs (there might have been a couple). Looking at the shot charts, though...numbers tell a different story. Union was able to get inside the circles and into the slot with relative ease. By my count 45 of their 69 attempts came from inside of the circles/slot. That's...a lot. Michigan did have a number of blocks, but...still. Union also did not return a lot of scoring from last season. We'll see how Union looks in the future, but allowing that many chances from that close is not the start Michigan was looking for to begin their season.
Special teams don't factor into the advanced stats that we're trying to focus on, but Michigan still took eight penalties....including four (five, but one was matching) in the opening period. And they all came in rapid succession. Union was able to scratch a goal back after falling behind 2-0. They also tallied late in the 3rd to tie that game, going 2 for 6, overall. If the Wolverines can't stay out of the box...this will get rough.
On the positive side (there is one?), Michigan managed to score twice on special teams. The first came on a loose puck off of the faceoff that Piazza sniped home from the high slot. The second was Max Shuart chipping a puck clear on a Union 2 man advantage to a streaking Tony Calderone who scored on a the PK as he broke free after exiting the box. Neither of those goals were the result of great puck movement, but more capitalizing on friendly bounces, unfortunately. When they did get the PP set up, they started in the 1-3-1, but never got it fully buzzing the way we were so used to it going last season. In their last two PPs, they generated a couple chances, but nothing too golden.
This might have been the brightest spot for Michigan...and it looks as if they might need it. I thought Nagelvoort played really, really well. There was absolutely nothing he could have done on either of the first two goals or the fourth. The third he may wish to have back, but it would not be filed as 'awful.' Regardless, he made 36 saved and faced many, many attempts from close range. He looked strong around the net, and I thought he controlled his rebounds rather well. His movement in the crease and puck tracking both looked very solid. There really is not a lot more he could have done tonight. When you face that many chances, pucks will go in at some point.
ODD MAN RUSHES
This is something Adam and I started tracking last season when our hottaeks told us that Michigan gave up way too many goals from getting caught out of their defensive zone. Tonight, I only tracked three OMRs. Only one was dangerous -as it came on a M PP. Piazza was back in a 2v1 and somehow got beat by the puck carrier but no goal resulted. Other than that, the other two (a 3v2 and a 2v1) were mitigated by nice defensive work. It seemed these were a huge bugaboo for M last season and resulted in free goals for opponents. Tonight, the goals were more of a result of not being able to clear the zone, tired legs from chasing all night, and the inability to stay out of the box.
FINAL CORSI SCORE
Union 69, Michigan 36