Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Nov. 21

Posted by: Jashvina Shah

Four Big Ten teams were in action over the weekend. Minnesota split with Minnesota State, rebounding for a 1-0 win after a 4-1 loss. The Badgers also split their series, a home contest against Merrimack. Wisconsin won on Friday and Jack Berry made 17 saves. In Saturday’s 2-0 loss, Berry and Matt Jurusik split the game.

Ohio State won both games at RPI. Friday’s contests was a 4-0 victory, but Saturday’s game was much closer. The teams were knotted 2-2 until freshman Tanner Laczynski scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period. Matt Tomkins started both games.

Penn State swept Arizona State, scoring 15 goals on the weekend. On Friday Penn State won 7-4 and on Saturday the Nittany Lions won 8-0. Chris Funkey got a chance to start, making 18 saves on Saturday. (Yes, Penn State took over 50 shots in each game).

Also a brief injury update – per the Wisconsin State Journal’s Todd Milewski, Trent Frederic was injured and miss the series against Merrimack.

(After the jump: Big Ten offenses, Michigan’s best goaltending, things each team should be thankful for)

Big Ten offenses

Big Ten teams have actually had some of the best offenses in the country since the league’s inception. Initially it was because the conference carried talent like Nic Kerdiles, Mark Zengerle, Ryan Dzingel, Max McCormick and Dylan Larkin. Last year the trend continued, but that was more a reflection of bad defense and goaltending than offensive talent.

Right now the Big Ten has the top two offenses in the country in Penn State and Ohio State. Overall I think defense and goaltending in the Big Ten will be slightly better than last year (a big nod to Michigan), so the offense stats probably won’t be as inflated as they were last year. Right now I think Ohio State’s offense is a real threat, but Penn State – even with 4.77 goals per game – is not. As I mentioned last week, the Nittany Lions take more shots than anyone else (and also have the worst shooting percentage).

Michigan’s best goaltending

I spoke to Red Berenson last week about freshmen goaltenders Hayden Lavigne and Jack LaFontaine, who’ve taken the load for Michigan in net. Berenson said the duo has given Michigan some of the best goaltending the team has had in a long time. They’ve been a big reason the Wolverines have stayed competitive this year, especially against a tougher non-conference schedule than what Michigan faced last year.

Don’t look now,but Michigan has the ninth-best defense in the country, allowing just 2.20 goals per game. To put that in context, Michigan ranked 38th last year, allowing 3.03 goals per game.

Things each thing should be thankful for

Because it’s Thanksgiving, here’s a short blurb for what each team should be thankful for:

Michigan: Good goaltending. It’s the piece the Wolverines have needed for so long, and I think it’ll make them a better team than they have been in years past (yes, even without players like Dylan Larkin and Kyle Connor)

Michigan State: Mason Appleton. The Spartans are struggling, but he’s pretty good – and their offense seems to be doing better this year. However, the Spartans should not be thankful for those new jerseys…

Minnesota: Hm. Having one of the most talented teams in the league. Even though the Gophers struggle (which is odd since they’re not a team built completely on freshmen), they can make you hurt. And they also like dazzling with late comebacks.

Ohio State: A hot start. Typically the Buckeyes start off struggling and finish strong, but those early losses kill Ohio State’s chances of getting an at-large bid. If the Buckeyes can keep this up, they may get back to the NCAA tournament.

Penn State: A good coach. Minus the scheduling issues, Guy Gadowsky knows how to take teams and make them competitive based on their strengths. The system of “shooooot” works well now, but who knows how it will translate when Big Ten play starts.

Wisconsin: A new coach. Tony Granato is what this team needed to finally start using their skill and sending the program back to its former glory. It might take some time, but they’re already moving in the right direction.

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