(Bill Rapai) Tony Calderone provided the finishing, tonight
FIRST: So...Michigan tallied a 6(3). That's not very good. In fact, its pretty bad. It didn't seem as bad during live play because Michigan was able to create a few nice looks on both their power play and penalty kill. But six even strength attempts, man. That's about it.
SECOND: Michigan's offense was a little bit better in the second period. A little bit. They generated 12 even strength attempts with three coming from the HP. Unfortunately, a lot of their looks were from rather poor angles or from quite a distance. Their goal was a Calderone snipe on a 2v2 rush that he let go from the top of the circle. It was well-placed...but probably could/should have been saved. More chances from the slot, please! Lost in the numbers is Will Lockwood. He's made some supremely outstanding individual plays. He's worth the price of admission.
- THIRD: Michigan took 14 even strength attempts in the third period. They got into the HP for 4 of those 14 chances. Again, that's not the best. Most of their attempts came from quite a distance or a poor angle. Against a high pucl possession team, though, looks at the net seem to be at a premium, though. They did manage to take advantage of their quality chances, though. Tony Calderone came in on a 2v1 and ripped a flare over Jones's shoulder to tie the game. Brendan Warren hustled and outskated a PSU defenseman on a free-for-all and attempted to cross the puck through the crease to a waiting James Sanchez, but the Nittany Lion defenseman broke up the pass with his stick...and it slid right through Jones to give Michigan the lead. Sanchez would have had a tap-in from a few feet out if he doesn't deflect it, though. Very few teams are going to out-skate and out-possess PSU, so the way to beat them is to take advantage of your rushes and opportunities when they give them to you. Michigan did just that, tonight.
FIRST: There has yet to be a shot that a Penn State player has decided to pass up. They will literally shoot from almost anywhere at anytime. That's how you end up with even strength 22 attempts. Michigan only allowed three of those to come from the HP, though. So, my hottaeks say that Penn State just shot from anywhere inside th blue line. This period was probably more even than the stats say...at least in terms of quality looks. The PSU goal came with under five seconds left in the period as Kris Myllari heaved a puck at the net (because PSU shot) and it floated above Lavigne's blocker. Probably not on the defense, as much as Lavigne...but you just cannot surrender goals with just seconds left in a period. I would say that was borderline acceptable defensive period...until the last few seconds.
SECOND: Michigan constrained the trigger-happy Nittany Lions to only 15 even strength attempts...with 7 coming from the HP. It was odd, though, that almost all seven HP attempts were literally on the edge of my drawn HP shape. So, nothing from the slot, just the very fringes. PSU shooting 15 times is actually probably on their lower end...and giving up nothing TOO Grade A seems like a win. The goal was another fling from the boards that slipped through Lavigne's arm. That's not on the defense.
- THIRD: Looking back at the first couple periods, Michigan limited PSU's quality chances. They gave up a ton of looks but not many great ones. In the third, Penn State was able to conjure up 26 (!!) attempts on net in even strength...but again, they only got 6 from the HP. I'm going out on a limb and say that Michigan's defense was actually good, tonight. They did surrender a 63(16), which seems like a lot. However, due to the nature of PSU's offensive gameplan, you're just going to give up attempts. They seem to shoot just for the sake of shooting. To keep them to around 25% of their shots from HP, though? I think Michigan can live with that...especially with Michigan's goaltending being its strength. Its not fun to watch, per se...but when you have great netminding and limited offense, packing in the defenders and finishing your limited offensive chances is your best bet. Oh geez...we're Michigan State. :(
FIRST: Michigan drew one power play in the first period and looked very dangerous. They created about 3-4 really good looks at the net and hit the post. Not having the puck much doesn't allow you to draw many penalties, so the Wolverines are going to have to make them count, tonight. Michigan took two penalties and actually looked better offensively than Penn State did on their first. The Nittany Lions threatened a lot more on their second and Lavigne made a few outstanding saves to help kill of that PSU man advantage.
SECOND: Each team had a power play in the second period and both ended the same way: with just as many chances for the PK as the PP. Odd. I would not have expected that from either of these teams.
- THIRD: Michigan did not draw a penalty and took one penalty in the third period. Penn State had a couple decent looks, but nothing overwhelming. Michigan's penalty kill stoned four PSU advantages, tonight, and didn't really give up that many good looks...which is refreshing. That has not been the case, lately.
(James Coller) I'M BATMAN
FIRST: Hayden Lavigne started tonight. He played extremely well through the first 19 minutes and 50 seconds, stopping 13 shots on as many attempts. Unfortunately, a late chuck from the point/boards snuck over his blocker. Perhaps he was screened? Tough to tell. Either way, I think he's going to want that one back. Before that, though...Lavigne was fantatsic, including multiple stuffs from the low slot during some multiple skater scrums right in front of him. His positioning was very, very good, as well.
SECOND: Lavigne, again, had a similar period to the first. He made a few fantastic saves and kept Michigan in a tightly played game. The goal he gave us was another head-scratcher. The puck was thrown from the point/boards (again) and just seemed to leak through his blocker side arm. He seemed to be in the right spot, but...the puck just got through. Screen? Maybe. But...it also seemed kinda soft, even on replay. These couple of goals have been uncharacteristic of him...especially given how he's played the rest of the time.
- THIRD: Lavigne was great, again, saving all 13 shots he faced in the third. And...no fluky fluff goals! I've commented on his positioning before, but I really thought he was in the right places and saw the game develop in front of him very well, tonight. He had those two hiccups, but they were not for lack of being in the correct spot. I truly am thinking, now, that Steve Shields is the catalyst behind this goaltending resurgence. He transformed Racine into a dependable college goalie, and he's also pushing all three of Michigan's netminders to the top of their games. The Wolverines truly are getting elite play from all of their goalies. Hayden Lavigne is the latest piece of evidence.
ODD MAN RUSHES
FIRST: Michigan gave up 2 OMRs in the first period. The first came early on and the got lucky as the the shooter broke his stick and whiffed on the pass. The second was a tremendous break-out pass that lead to a 2v1. The shot was high and wide, but it was a great chance. M cannot skate end-to-end with PSU.
SECOND: I saw no OMRs in the 2nd. Yay!
- THIRD: Nothing. Yay! Hottaek: Michigan's defense got better as the game progressed.
FINAL CORSI SCORE
I had: Penn State 63(16), Michigan 32(10)
www.collegehockeynews.com had: Penn State 64, Michigan 31