The Badgers have 31 points in Big Ten play this season, just one point behind Minnesota. It doesn’t really matter who finishes first or second, just who finishes in the first two spots. The Gophers were off this week, so the Badgers picked up six points to close the gap.
With the pair of wins over the Spartans, the Badgers are now eight points ahead of Michigan for the No. 2 spot. The Badgers have four games left while Michigan has six, so it is possible for the Wolverines to overtake Wisconsin. But it’s unlikely, since the Badgers face Penn State and Michigan State to close out the season.
Ohio State also did not play last weekend, while Michigan split its series against Penn State. The only two conference wins the Nittany Lions have earned this year were both over the Wolverines. The Friday win was Penn State’s only conference win on the road.
(After the jump: How the Badgers have played at Kohl this season, Michigan’s struggles and Big Ten hockey success at the Olympics.)
A historic season at Kohl
With the sweep over Michigan State, the Badgers finished the season 17-2-1 at home. The 17 wins are the most in program history. In 1999-00, the Badgers finished 16-3-1 at home.
The Badgers said farewell to its nine seniors on Saturday with Mike Eaves’ 250th Wisconsin win and Joel Rumpel’s ninth shutout.
At the Kohl Center this season, Wisconsin averaged 3.80 goals per game and allowed 1.80 goals per game. The Badgers recorded a plus-40 goal margin at home, second in the country.
A few weeks ago the Badgers swept Minnesota at home, snapping the Gophers’ 14-game unbeaten streak.
Michigan’s struggles continue
The Wolverines are “ranked” No. 13 but that doesn’t mean much. Based on how they’ve played this season, I can’t place them close to some of the elite teams in the country.
The Wolverines did post nine goals over the weekend, the most by Michigan in a weekend this season. The win snapped on Saturday snapped a four-game losing streak, but Michigan has lost to the Nittany Lions twice this season. The Wolverines are 5-8-1 over their last 14 games.
Steve Racine started in net on Saturday, and it was his first home start since Oct. 10 and his first win since Nov. 16. It was Racine’s first start in eight games, and lately he’s split time with Zach Nagelvoort. Racine has started three of the past four games.
Several schools had former players in the Olympics, but former Spartan Duncan Keith was the only player to come home with a gold medal. Michigan’s Carl Hagelin won silver with Sweden.
Ohio State’s Ryan Kesler joined Minnesota’s Phil Kessel and Blake Wheeler, Wisconsin’s Joe Pavelski and Ryan McDonagh, Michigan’s Max Pacioretty and Michigan State’s Ryan Miller in the Olympics for the USA.
Former Wolverine Brian Lebler and former Gopher Thomas Vanek played for Austria.