Hockey - Early Season Snowflakes

Submitted by MastaDon on November 11th, 2012 at 10:49 PM

After another weekend split, Michigan sits at 4-4-1 with a big home series this weekend vs Notre Dame. There hasn't been very many hockey talk on the Board (yes I am aware football is in season) so I thought I would make this thread for people to voice their early season observations.  

Intro Topics - 

  1. Erratic play and possible causes
  2. Early observations on Freshmen
  3. AJ Treais stepping up as captain
  4. Goaltending situation
  5. Trouba - the good, the bad, and the frustrating
  6. Anything else that's stood out 

Hope this isn't too off topic for football season, just know that I've been hungry for some hockey talk. 

Comments

MastaDon

November 11th, 2012 at 11:05 PM ^

1. The erratic play has been really frustrating to watch, it's not even game to game - it's period to period. Case in point from Friday, they came quick and had a strong first period then played mediocre in the second and came back and finished strong. I heard Red had a stong talk with the players in practice last week about it.

2. I've been really excited by the Freshmen so far. Boo moved up to essentially the 1st line, Racine looking solid, Trouba being Trouba (more on that later), and even Copp cracking the lineup and playing well. This looks like a very deep class with a couple stars in the making.

3. Wow is all I can say, he started playing really well and the end of last year but I had figured that was about his peak. He has come out this year improved in almost every facet of the game. Obviously still scoring at nearly a goal per game pace, but I have been the most impressed by his defensive game, he really turned into a great all around player. Not to mention looking great working the point on the powerplay.

4. It's probably still to early to make any solid claims on the goalies, but I would like to see Red go back to splitting the weekend (Rutledge Friday and Racine Saturday) like he did Hogan's senior year. Rutledge looked great Friday, he was calm and controlled most noticably with his rebound control. From what I saw from Saturday's highlights it was almost a complete opposite. That seems to be how he gets in trouble, he gets skittish and sloppy with the rebounds/playing the puck in general. Racine has been solid from what I've seen - as Red puts it making the saves he's capable of making and even a few he probably shouldn't.

5. Trouba snowflakes could probably be their own thread. Obviously he is one of the most dynamic players that's been around here, scoring nearly a PPG and making spectacular hits. Maybe he's starting to get profiled by the refs a bit but ugh. We can't afford to have him taking misconducts/DQs, especially with Merrill out (any word on his return?). Regardless of my thoughts on the contact to the head rules, thems the rules and he has to play within them.

Gordon

November 11th, 2012 at 11:20 PM ^

1.  The erratic play is likely to improve as players start finding their comfort zones.  An influx of freshman, no starter in net, and players adjusting to new roles will do that to a team trying to find its potential.  But with that said, any good team can't just relax.  Consistency has hurt Michigan in years past, and you'd hope that things would settle down shortly.

2.  Having so many freshman in big roles does affect the consistency, as mentioned above.  That said, this team will really come together as the season progresses.  There's so much potential with this team.

3.  Treais is the perfect example of what the role of senior/captain can do.  AJ has become a complete player, and he's setting the example for everyone else.

4.  I think Racine will be the eventual starter.  Rutledge is the more talented goalie overall, but Racine has the confidence to take the starting job and not give it up.

5.  If Trouba keeps his skates on the ice, he wouldn't be getting those penalties.  No matter the head-shoulder physics of his hitting, penalties will always get called when it looks like someone left the ice to make a hit.

I'd hope that Merrill is back by the end of the month.  Lou Lamiorello told the NJ media that Merrill will be out around six weeks, and a November 24th return against Cornell would be after about 6.5 weeks to heal.  If he can't go then, there's the weekend after at Ferris State, then a weekend against Western two weeks after that.  Merrill will return sometime in that stretch.

MastaDon

November 11th, 2012 at 11:31 PM ^

Treais' emergence is probably the one good thing about Brown leaving, I think he realized he had a much bigger role to fill and has stepped up accordingly. 

I like Racine a lot, and I feel bad for Rutledge. He's obviously talented and I don't think there's a lack of effort. As a former goalie I feel from him because sometimes when things aren't going right it all can pile on you. Judging from some of his reactions after allowing a goal he's clearly frustrated with his play and knows he can play better.

Gordon

November 11th, 2012 at 11:36 PM ^

Rutledge seems to be putting too much pressure on himself.  He's a great talent, but just needs to relax a bit and play.  Better play will come, but Jared needs to be able to put a bad goal behind him.

Racine is playing like Hasek out there, with no fear whatsoever.  It's exciting to watch, and it shows some ballsy confidence in himself and the team in front of him.

Gordon

November 11th, 2012 at 11:06 PM ^

I have no idea why Chris Brown chose to leave, considering the NHL might be locked out for the entire season.

I don't think money is a major issue, I don't recall any other problems, and the college schedule and its perks have to be better than bussing everywhere from Portland, ME every day.

Chris has his same PPG pace, roughly, but it's still an AHL assignment in nowhere over a senior season where he'd be a beloved captain and potential award winner (not to mention the team goals).

Red was disappointed in the decision, and so was I.  To quote Red, around the time Chris left:

"Playing your senior year, look what it did for Steven Kampfer, look what it did for Matt Hunwick, look what it did for Carl Hagelin. I mean these guys are good examples of doing the right thing and how they grew in their senior year in that leadership role.  What about graduation? Why did you come to school to start with? Was it just to play hockey? If you did, you came to the wrong place. We graduate players here."

It was a stupid move to leave, and it looks even worse when the NHL isn't even an option.

MastaDon

November 11th, 2012 at 11:11 PM ^

I tend to agree with you, it's pretty upsetting. When people leave after a year or two (Pacioretty, JMFJ etc) I feel differently. I don't know if that is reasonable, but why would you only forego your senior year. He seemed to love it here, and the students/fans all loved him.

Overall just disappointing.

Gordon

November 11th, 2012 at 11:29 PM ^

It's one thing if someone leaves early when they are completely ready for the NHL, like Jack.

It's another thing if someone leaves early when they could have used another year or two in college, like Pacioretty or Andrew Cogliano.

Red has mentioned before how he finds it detrimental to leave school to just go play in the minors for a year or so anyway.  If you're leaving for the NHL, great.  But if you're leaving in a lateral move, it just takes away from your education.

In some cases, a team might be talking up a player's stock, and that guy has the self-confidence to go after that NHL goal.  It might be a shortsighted move, but hey, he is following his dreams, even if everyone else doesn't like it.

Chris Brown is in a completely different situation.  THERE IS NO NHL THIS YEAR.  Chris Brown wouldn't be playing for the Phoenix Coyotes no matter what, as there are no Phoenix Coyotes right now.  He could be in Ann Arbor, finishing his undergrad degree and completing a year of the Berenson School of Leadership and Captaincy, while also lighting it up and becoming a school legend.  Instead, he's a second or third-liner in a minor league city even farther from home.

Just disappointing all around.

MastaDon

November 11th, 2012 at 11:35 PM ^

This is why I like GMs like Lamarillo, and whoever runs Montreal. They seem to like college players and almost prefer for them to stay in school.

(Yes I know I know, Pacioretty left early for Montreal, but I think Montreal really thought he was NHL ready. He benefitted from playing on that nasty Porter, Kolarik line and garnered rediculous numbers because of it.)

Gordon

November 11th, 2012 at 11:40 PM ^

...by keeping players in college, a team is basically letting them develop on someone else's dime.  New Jersey is letting Red develop Merrill into a great defenseman, while keeping his future rights for longer.

I don't know why a team would pull someone out of NCAA or juniors to let them sit in their minor league system.  It saves money, saves time, and basically hides their prospects out of sight for a while.

I'm hoping that Winnipeg does the same with Trouba, although he might get called up by the Jets sooner that we'd hope.

MastaDon

November 11th, 2012 at 11:46 PM ^

Winnipeg needs players now. If he has a monster year (particularly with highlight type plays) I could see them selling him to their fanbase as the next great defenseman and trying to get him up ASAP.

That said there has been indications that Trouba and his family really value education. They know the kind of money he's going to get offered eventually so if they say the want him to stay they know what they're going to have to turn down.

ckersh74

November 11th, 2012 at 11:07 PM ^

Trouba has 2 game misconducts already. I believe that upon receiving a 3rd, the player is suspended for a game. So, yeah, he can't be taking any more this season. 

MastaDon

November 11th, 2012 at 11:16 PM ^

It's in the MGoBlue.com highlights, more or less the same play. Less violent, doesn't leave his feet as much. Al Randall says his opinion that it was a bit of profiling, I've never ref'd so I don't know if it should have been a misconduct, but it was a penelty.

justingoblue

November 11th, 2012 at 11:39 PM ^

Watching it, I feel like it was something that wasn't a glaringly obvious call like last week, but I don't think that Trouba made any kind of a case to not get called. His balance on this hit is still a problem, and even more than last week he had another fairly easy hit available which he didn't take (and remember that the rules say it's his responsibility to avoid contact to the head).

As far as "profiling" or this being called differently because of the initial impressions of his play, anything is possible. I would bet that the guys on the ice saw the hit last week and were on the lookout for hits like this (not to say that influenced the actual call) from him.

About the game misconduct being called, it has to be either a game misconduct or a game disqualification after they assess a head contact penalty. I don't know if the DQ counts against the misconduct rule, but after thinking about it, it probably doesn't since there is also a rule for multiple DQ's.

Heywood Jablowme

November 11th, 2012 at 11:44 PM ^

Racine is a time bomb ready to explode, not Michigan quality by any means. Rutledge is just having a tough time out there, seems to really be fighting it. Give Janecyk a shot out there bud #FreeMoosey

MastaDon

November 11th, 2012 at 11:56 PM ^

Don't you think that's a bit critical for only a handful of starts - one against a top 5 team? We're talking about a high second round draft pick so I wouldn't say he's not Michigan quality.

I do wonder why Janecyk hasn't gotten an opportunity, but I don't watch practice so I'm going to trust the coaching staff on this one.

Edit: Don't know why I thought he was drafted, but I believe CSS has him as a second round prospect

Gordon

November 11th, 2012 at 11:59 PM ^

Anyone adding randomly stupid hashtags to their posts/fields of play aren't worth rebutting.

Looking right at you here, Mississippi State football.

And to keep it on topic, Racine is a grad of Connecticut's Taft School - home of Max Pacioretty, Peter Berg and Trey Anastasio.  Now you know.

Sac Fly

November 11th, 2012 at 11:46 PM ^

Penalty kill. Our kill was perfect until the Miami series, in all our losses since it's be powerplay goals that lost us the games.

They need to get things going very soon, because we are in for a long season if we don't figure it out before the road stretch.

MastaDon

November 12th, 2012 at 12:03 AM ^

For some reason the years we struggle on the PK, we also can't seem to stay out of the box. Not sure if there's a correlation or if it just seems that way because I get scared more with a weak PK.

When they're playing their worst they get trapped in their own zone (not just on the PK) for long stretches and even when they clear it out they won't get sustained pressure. It's probably been the most noticable flaw in our overall gameplay for the last couple of years.

lhglrkwg

November 11th, 2012 at 11:59 PM ^

if Hunwick, Hogan, or Sauer are in net. Given that we have wildy erratic freshman tandem in net instead, I'm concerned about us making the tournament at all

saveferris

November 12th, 2012 at 9:05 AM ^

Definately not time to panic, but the reality is that Michigan has a pretty tough 2nd half schedule, where they only play at home 6 times and they essentially spend all of February on the road.  If they don't find their stride soon, we'll be back to where we were in 2009-2010, needing to run the table in the CCHA tourney to get into the NCAA.

Wolverine Devotee

November 12th, 2012 at 9:14 AM ^

Yeah this is scary. Red needs to go with the two-platoon, because these guys cleary aren't ready for two straight starts.

Rutledge held state to 1 friday, and gave up 7 saturday.

Racine gave up 4 but won the shootout against northern, and gave up 4 the next night as well in a loss.