Conference play is back in action for just four teams this weekend. The Gophers, Nittany Lions, Spartans and Wolverines are playing this weekend while Wisconsin and Ohio State take a break.
Minnesota and Penn State will play while Michigan and Michigan will face each other. These are two series that have already happened earlier this season. The Wolverines dismantled the Spartans, while the Gophers and Nittany Lions split.
While Michigan and Michigan State are far apart in the standings, Minnesota and Penn State are separated by just six points. And remember, because of shootouts there are three points up for grabs in each Big Ten game. Three points are awarded for a regulation/OT win, two for a shootout win and one for a shootout loss.
Michigan State vs. Michigan: Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 6 at 5 p.m.
The Wolverines are on an eight-game winning streak – which includes a 9-2 and 6-3 win over Michigan State. Michigan has a really powerful offense, and it’s been a challenge for most teams to stop. That was especially true for Michigan State, which gave up 15 goals to the Wolverines the last weekend they played.
Michigan State’s defense has struggled this season, but the Spartans did a good job limiting Ohio State’s offense in a split last weekend. The Spartans earned a 4-2 win before dropping a 2-1 decision. The win snapped an eight-game losing streak.
Michigan has one of the nation’s top lines featuring freshman Kyle Connor, who leads the nation with 42 points. J.T Compher has 36 and Tyler Motte has 35.
It’s hard to tell if the series against Ohio State indicates improvement for the Spartans. Even if it does, Michigan State can’t stop the Wolverine offense.
Prediction: Michigan sweeps
Penn State vs. Minnesota: Feb. 5 at 7:05 p.m. CT; Feb. 6 at 4:05 p.m. CT
The Gophers return to conference play after finishing last at the North Star College Cup. In conference, the Gophers are on a five-game winning streak. Their last Big Ten loss was the 3-2 overtime defeat against Penn State. But Minnesota responded to that defeat with a 7-1 win the next night. While the Gophers have struggled out of conference, they are one of the top teams in the Big Ten and freshman netminder Eric Schierhorn has played well.
The Nittany Lions are coming off a pair of losses to Michigan and are on a three-game losing streak. Like head coach Guy Gadowsky predicted, Penn State’s offense has slowed down a bit since conference play started.
The last weekend between these teams was odd, with a close game followed by a blowout. It’s hard to tell how each team has progressed since then, since they’ve both played difficult teams. But a 7-1 Minnesota win last time around was pretty alarming for Penn State.
Prediction: Minnesota sweeps