Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 3

Posted by: Jashvina Shah

The Buckeyes swept Penn State, so the Nittany Lions are still waiting for their first conference win. Ohio State put up five goals in both games, and Ryan Dzingel scored three points in both games. He had two goals in Friday’s win and added another on Saturday.

Christian Frey started both games for Ohio State and has now started three games in a row, and won all of them. He’s 5-1-0 this season, and may have won Ohio State’s starting job.

The Buckeyes are fourth in the Big Ten standings, while Michigan moved into second place after beating Wisconsin in regulation and in a shootout. Shootouts don’t count in the PairWise but they do count in Big Ten standings.

Wisconsin is right behind Michigan with 16 points, and Ohio State is fourth with 13. I still think the Buckeyes, backed by a good offense a better goaltending situation than in November, might be in a better spot than either the Wolverines or the Badgers.

Jake Hildebrand was probably the goalkeeper of the week in Big Ten play, limiting Minnesota to three goals and making 63 saves over both games. His 26 saves on Friday helped the Spartans and Gophers tie, while he made 37 saves — and allowed one goal — in the loss on Saturday.

(After the jump: The problem with shootouts, Minnesota might be beatable and Wisconsin’s road woes)

Please get rid of shootouts

Two Big Ten games ended in shootouts this week, with Michigan State beating Minnesota and Michigan taking a victory over Wisconsin.

The shootouts do not count in PairWise rankings, but they do count in Big Ten standings. In conference contests, teams get three points for regulation or overtime wins, two points for a shootout win and one point for a shootout loss.

Because Michigan defeated Wisconsin in regulation and in the shootout over the weekend, the Wolverines took five out of six points from the Badgers — three for the regulation win and two for the shootout win.

Wisconsin earned a point in the shootout loss.

Right now the Wolverines are second in Big Ten standings, one point ahead of the Badgers. If shootouts didn’t count in the Big Ten, both teams would’ve earned a point each and would be tied for second place.

It seems menial because all Big Ten teams make the tournament, but the first two seeds in the conference earn a first-round bye.

And one shootout win might be the difference between a getting a first-round bye and not having one.

Shootouts essentially have nothing to do with the game itself, and I don’t think teams who “win” in a shootout should earn a point for it.

Apparently Minnesota is beatable… kind of

I’ll stick with the shootout theme, because apparently it’s the only way to beat Minnesota.

Over the past 14 games teams have come “close” to beating the Gophers. Minnesota Duluth, Colgate and Michigan State (in November) also tied the Gophers this season.

Michigan State won the November contest in a shootout, as did Colgate when it faced Minnesota.

Shootouts don’t actually count, so the Gophers are still on a 14-game unbeaten streak.

But the Spartans, a team that’s not so great, played well against the Gophers, one of the best teams in the country.

The Gophers had the second-best offense in the country entering the weekend. After being limited to three goals over the weekend, Minnesota’s offense dropped to fourth in the country.

The Gophers currently take 35.46 shots on goal per game, which is second in the country. In Friday’s tie they took 28, and the Spartans blocked 25 shots that game. But when the Spartans couldn’t keep the Gophers from ripping shots, Jake Hildebrand made 37 saves in the 1-0 loss on Saturday. 

Even if shootouts don’t count, the Spartans proved there’s a way to at least come close to beating Minnesota.

Wisconsin has major road issues

The Badgers have won one game on the road this season, and that was on Nov. 16 against Miami. Wisconsin failed to win at Michigan, losing on Friday and tying on Saturday before losing in the shootout.

Wisconsin plays six of its remaining 10 games on the road, and the only teams the Badgers will host are Michigan State and Minnesota.

I know statistics are irrelevant without context, but here are Wisconsin’s numbers on the road: The Badgers average 1.88 goals and allow 4.12 goals per game for a goal margin of minus-18.

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