Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 10

Posted by: Jashvina Shah

Minnesota entered the Kohl Center on a nation-high 14-game unbeaten streak, but left with two 2-1 losses against Wisconsin.

Given how strong Wisconsin is at home, I assumed the Badgers would win at least one of the games against Minnesota at home, but I never suspected Wisconsin would win both. The Badgers played pretty well against the Gophers, improving to 15-2-1 at home this season.

There’ll be more on Minnesota later, but Wisconsin is now second in Big Ten with 22 points, four behind the Gophers. But this season, Badgers have been awful on the road.

A couple wins over the Gophers are pretty big for the Badgers, but they’ll be back on the road next week to face Ohio State. It’ll be a good time for Wisconsin to either prove or disprove its status as an elite Big Ten team.

Penn State earned its first Big Ten win — and its fifth overall — after taking down Michigan 4-0. Assistant captain David Glen, who missed a few games after donating bone marrow, had a goal in the win.

Michigan may not be the strongest team in the Big Ten, but this was an important first in Penn State’s program history. The victory also snapped a nine-game losing streak for the Nittany Lions.

On Friday, Penn State allowed seven goals behind Eamon McAdam and P.J. Musico. That left Matthew Skoff available for Saturday, and the sophomore responded with a shutout.

Ohio State and Michigan State tied both games, while the Buckeyes “won” in the shootout. It marked the first time in Big Ten play this season the Spartans lost in the shootout.

Jake Hildebrand and Frey both allowed two goals in each game. It makes the fourth game in a row Hildebrand has allowed two goals or less, and his .933 save percentage now ranks sixth in the nation and tied for first in the Big Ten.

(After the jump: Minnesota’s offense is struggling, Michigan State might be on the rise and Christian Frey brings stability to Ohio State)

Minnesota needs to start scoring

Minnesota’s offense has dropped nationally over the past couple of weeks and now ranks seventh. The Gophers have scored one goal in each of its past three games and haven’t netted more than two goals in a game in the past four contests.

The Gophers just had their 14-game unbeaten streak snapped with the Friday loss to Wisconsin. Before the pair of losses, Minnesota was 1-2-2 in the past five games.

Sam Warning is still Minnesota’s leading scorer, but the junior hasn’t scored a point in the past five games. Defenseman Mike Riley, who had scored at least one point in the five games prior to this weekend, was held scoreless over the weekend.

The scoring drought is unfortunate for Adam Wilcox, one of the better goalkeepers in the country. He’s been a great last line of defense for Minnesota and hasn’t given up more than two goals in a game over the past four contests.

Things might not be so bad for Michigan State

The Spartans aren’t a great team.

Michigan State has won three of its last 15 games, going 3-6-6 over that stretch.

But they played well against Minnesota when the teams faced off a few weeks ago. The Spartans were the first team that really gave the Gopher offense trouble this season, and Jake Hildebrand has played pretty well in net.

Michigan State averages the most blocked shots per game with 17.93, which has helped keep shots away from Hildebrand. But the goalkeeper made 40 saves against the Buckeyes on Friday and 48 on Saturday en route to a pair of 2-2 ties over the weekend.

Christian Frey is a frontrunner for the Buckeye starting job

Christian Frey made his fourth and fifth consecutive starts over the weekend. He helped limit Michigan State to two goals in each game, stopping 25 and 30 pucks over the weekend.

Since Frey joined Ohio State in December, the Buckeyes are 6-3-3. Frey started in eight of those 12 games and holds a 5-1-2 record. In the past five contests, Frey hasn’t given up more than two goals in game.

At first, Frey had split time with fellow freshman Matt Tomkins. Frey started twice, before Tomkins started three games. Then the pair split starts in the series against Minnesota, but it seems like Frey has become Ohio State’s No. 1 goalkeeper.

In his eight games this season, Frey has a .925 save percentage and a 2.11 goals-against average.

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