Archive for the 'Big Ten' Category

Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Dec. 16

Monday, December 15th, 2014

It was a non-eventful week in the Big Ten, as two teams played regular-season games. Michigan State defeated Clarkson 6-4, while Michigan fell to Boston College 5-1.

The Badgers faced the NTDP-U18 team in an exhibition game, and lost. Wisconsin actually held a 1-0 lead in that game, but the NTDP scored four times in the last frame. The only positive is NTDP goalkeeper Luke Opilka is a Badger commit.

(After the jump: Midseason thoughts, World Junior preparation and what we expect to happen won’t happen.) (more…)

Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Week 10

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Thanks to the winter break, not many Big Ten teams were in action this weekend. Michigan State defeated Clarkson, while both Wisconsin and Michigan lost.

The stats and context are listed below: (more…)

Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Dec. 12

Friday, December 12th, 2014

With mid-December approaching, most teams have embarked on a midseason break. Minnesota, Penn State and Ohio State are all off this weekend. On Dec. 29, when the break is over, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State will take the ice.

College hockey may be winding down, but the World Junior Championship is quickly approaching. Eight Big Ten players – Ryan Collins, Hudson Fasching, J.T. Compher, Michael Downing, Dylan Larkin, Tyler Motte, Zach Werenski and Jack Dougherty – were named to USA’s preliminary roster.

The conference has two international representations in Penn State’s Erik Autio (Finland) and Minnesota’s Leon Bristedt (Switzerland).

If you missed it, the Big Ten announced a partnership to bring a basketball-hockey doubleheader to Madison Square Garden. From attending, it was clear hockey was an afterthought. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany didn’t say much about its impact on hockey’s expansion, or if the doubleheader can pull attendance despite being so far away from most of the hockey schools.

Michigan travels to Boston College, while the Spartans will host Clarkson. The really struggling Badgers – and I mean really struggling, because defenseman Keegan Ford left the program – play the NTDP in an exhibition game.

Wisconsin (1-10-1) vs. USNTDP U-18: Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.

Wisconsin’s already difficult season became worse when Keegan Ford told Badger coach Mike Eaves he wanted to leave the program. Ford is a Wisconsin legacy, and he was one of the team’s few healthy defenseman. And the rookie blueliner had appeared in every game this season.

The news of Keegan’s departure comes less than a week after Adam Rockwood was ruled out indefinitely because of an enzyme deficiency.

The Badgers were swept last weekend, as Penn State took 5-2 and 4-2 victories at the Kohl Center. Wisconsin is now on a two-game losing streak, but they’ve still only won once this season.

Wisconsin’s game against the NTDP kicks off another long break for the Badgers, who return to regular-season play on Jan. 2. Earlier in the season, Wisconsin had a period where it played one weekend over a month span.

Prediction: Probably the NTDP

Michigan (8-6-0) at Boston College (8-7-1): Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.

After an inconsistent start to the season, the Wolverines are now on a four-game winning streak. Over that period, Michigan has outscored opponents 35-6. But, the eight goals against Penn State are an inflated total – a slew of them happened very late in the game. And the Wolverines beat up on a Jason Kasdorf-less RPI.

And it’s not the offense everyone was worried about. It’s the defense and goalkeeping. To Michigan’s credit, Zach Nagelvoort has taken back the net. He’s started the last seven games, and has improved his save percentage drastically from November.

Boston College lost a lot of key players last season, and the Eagles haven’t been as strong a team. BC has won one of its last three games, a 4-2 contest against New Hampshire.

This isn’t last year’s BC team, but the Eagles might be the toughest test the Wolverines have faced in the past couple of weeks.

Prediction: Michigan wins

Clarkson (6-7-4) at Michigan State (5-9-1): Dec. 14 at 5 p.m.

The Spartans have one win in their last five games, and last weekend Michigan State lost to Minnesota before earning a 3-3 tie. Most of Michigan State’s weekends have resulted in splits.

Clarkson is third in the ECAC with four conference wins. The Golden Knights are 3-2 in their last four games, which includes a win over St. Lawrence. After a seven-game winless streak earlier in the season, Clarkson has turned things around over the past few games.

Joe Zarbo leads Clarkson’s offense with 10 points. Steve Perry has started 14 games and holds a .912 save percentage, helping the Golden Knights allow two goals per game.

Michigan State’s offense is led by Matt Berry, Michael Ferrnantino and Mackenzie MacEachern. Jake Hildebrand has a .906 save percentage.

Prediction: Not sure. Clarkson wins?

Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Dec. 8

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Last weekend was the first, full slate of Big Ten conference play. Penn State swept the once-feared Badgers at the Kohl Center, Michigan routed Ohio State 8-3 and Minnesota defeated Michigan State before the two teams tied.

Penn State is now first in the conference with a 3-1-0 record. The Wolverines are second, while the Gophers and Spartans are tied for third. To Minnesota’s credit, they’ve only played two Big Ten games.

The rough season for Wisconsin continues, and the scoring losses combined with inexperience have been a terrible combination for the Badgers. What the team wanted to happen, which was find an identity behind Joel Rumpel, hasn’t happened. It’s a bad sign the Badgers, who lost just two games at home last season, weren’t expected to win this weekend.

Michigan is now on a four-game winning streak, outscoring opponents 25-6. The Wolverines have defeated RPI, Penn State and Ohio State over that stretch, and two of those teams might not count as quality opponents. RPI has been inconsistent this season, and went to Michigan without netminder Jason Kasdorf. And it’s not the offense that was a question for the Wolverines – it was the defense and goalkeeping.

There’s not much I can say for the Buckeyes, except they used all three goalkeepers including Logan Davis, who last played on Dec. 2, 2013 – a 5-4 loss to Michigan.

Michigan State losing to Minnesota 5-0 is a little surprising. The two teams played close games all of last season, but I think Michigan State’s defense might be losing some of last season’s characteristics. (Allowing five goals to Princeton Thanksgiving weekend was a huge surprise, more than the five goals in Friday’s game). Saturday’s game against Minnesota was Michigan State’s first tie of the season. Last year, the Spartans played seven games that went into overtime.

Still, a tie to Michigan State isn’t a good look for a Gopher team that’s 2-3-1 in its last six games. And the Gophers can’t afford to play poorly in the conference, especially since the rest of the league isn’t at Minnesota’s level. With both Brady Skjei and Travis Boyd back, there are no excuses.

It’s still early to panic about PairWise, but  Minnesota and Penn State are the only Big Ten teams in the top-16. Yes, Penn State. Michigan is down at 28.

(After the jump: Why Penn State will probably finish second, the conference’s new offense, and the Big Ten’s out of conference record.)

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Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Week Nine

Monday, December 8th, 2014

All teams were engaged in Big Ten conference play this week.

Penn State swept the Badgers and controlled 5-on-5 Corsi in both games, something that seems to be a trend for the Nittany Lions. This isn’t surprising, since the Nittany Lions are known for attempting many shots.

Michigan dominated 5-on-5 Corsi in an 8-3 win over the Buckeyes, save for the third period – when the Wolverines were already ahead.

The Gophers struggled with 5-on-5 possession against Michigan State. While the team finished 57.75 percent 5-on-5 Corsi in Friday’s 5-0 win, the Gophers recorded a 5-on-5 Corsi of 40.91 percent in Saturday’s tie. Michigan State hasn’t been known for being a great puck-possession team, but out-possessed the Gophers in the second and third periods of the game.

Here are this week’s Corsi stats:
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Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Dec. 4

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

It’s back.

This weekend Big Ten play will be underway for all teams, meaning Minnesota and Wisconsin will face conference competition for the first time this season. Finally we can see how the perceived top and bottom teams fare in the Big Ten

Before the season, Minnesota was projected to win the conference. But the Gophers have lost three of their last four, and will face Michigan State this weekend. The Spartan caused the Gophers trouble last year, making each contest a one-goal game or a tie.

Conversely there’s Wisconsin, picked third by most. The Badgers are off to their worst start in a very long time, but seem to be getting better each weekend. Wisconsin is actually undefeated in its last two, and won Saturday’s game. The Badgers were once unbeatable at home, but not this season. This series at the Kohl Center could tell us if this is just another slow start for the Badgers.

Pay attention to Penn State’s offense this weekend. After scoring at least three goals or more in 10 straight games, the Nittany Lions haven’t scored more than a goal per game in their last two losses. The line of Taylor Holstrom, Casey Bailey and David Goodwin has been Penn State’s most productive line.

Speaking of productive lines, Michigan’s Zach Hyman, Alex Kile and Dylan Larkin are leading Michigan’s offense. The Wolverines, after three strong games, will host Ohio State. Michigan may have found the consistency its been looking for.

Almost every team has struggled or been inconsistent against out of conference competition, which makes it hard to know how the teams will play against each other.

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Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Week Eight

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

All Big Ten teams returned to non-conference action this weekend. The Gophers split a Boston road trip, defeating Boston College and losing to Northeastern. While Minnesota lost, the Badgers earned their first win of the season.

Michigan State split with Princeton, while the Wolverines swept RPI. Penn State dropped its match at MSG to Cornell. Ohio State rebounded from a 6-2 loss at the Shillelagh Tournament to defeat Notre Dame 5-1 on Saturday.

The only thing that stood out were Minnesota’s Corsi numbers against Boston College. The Gophers passed the 70 percent mark for possession in the first, and had a 60 percent 5-on-5 Corsi for the game.

As usual, the stats are listed below with context:

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Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Dec. 1

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Minnesota lost to Northeastern. It happened, and one night after the Gophers – bolstered by the return of Brady Skjei – defeated Boston College. The Gophers are now winless at Matthews Arena all time.

It’s odd, especially because the Gophers have one win in their last four games. Minnesota is still missing Travis Boyd, but Brady Skjei returned for both games last weekend.

Form what I’ve heard from my colleagues who witnessed Northeastern’s upset win (yes, this I consider an upset), the Huskies came out and were ready to play. The Huskies scored a goal late to take the lead permanently.

It’s only December, but the Gophers are the only Big Ten team on the inside of the PairWise top-16. While it’s early to use the rankings as a good judge of teams, its accurate for the Big Ten conference.

The Badgers turned in their most successful weekend of the season and are now undefeated in their last two games, with a tie and a win against Ferris State. Saturday’s 5-3 victory marked Joel Rumpel’s 50th win, Corbin McGuire’s first point and Jack Dougherty’s first goal.

After watching Michigan State with Princeton this weekend, I know roughly the same about them as I did before. A once-strong Spartan defense allowed five goals on the weekend to the NCAA’s worst offense. Princeton entered the series averaging a goal per game, but scored three in Friday’s win over the Spartans. It was Princeton’s first win over Michigan State, and Spartan coach Tom Anastos was not happy.

Ohio State also split the weekend. After a 6-2 loss to eventual Shillelagh Tournament champion Western Michigan, the Buckeyes beat Notre Dame 5-1. The Irish aren’t a great team this year, but five goals is impressive for the Buckeyes.

Michigan is now on a three-game winning streak after sweeping RPI, but I’ll have more on the Wolverines below. Penn State dropped a decision to Cornell and The Nittany Lions are now on a two-game losing streak.

I said this last week and I’ll say it again – the Badgers have a legitimate chance of finishing second in the conference.

(After the jump: How the Big Ten is shaping up, Michigan State’s offensive issues and is this Michigan’s turning point?) (more…)

Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Nov. 27

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

After Big Ten play started last season, all teams are back to non-conference slates this Thanksgiving weekend. Each team is in action, and a few are on the East Coast. Minnesota, Michigan State and Penn State are making trips to Boston, New Jersey and New York.

This weekend should be easy for Minnesota and Michigan State. The Gophers will play Boston College and Northeastern, while the Spartans will head to Baker Rink and Princeton for the first time. Minnesota is on a two-game losing streak, its first of the season, but are facing a considerably different Boston College team than last year’s Frozen Four contestant.

After a split with Penn State, the Wolverines host RPI. Both teams have been inconsistent this season, but Michigan should at least be able to take one at home. After allowing eight goals last weekend, Penn State travels to MSG to face Cornell. Ohio State will participate in the Shillelagh Tournament and the Badgers host Ferris State.

Wisconsin is still winless, but they’ve played better of late. It’s hard to tell what kind of teams Ohio State and Michigan are due to inconsistency, although the Buckeyes looked fairly strong last week against Michigan State, and they could make a statement at the Shillelagh Tournament. The offense is coming for Ohio State, and their goalkeeping situation has settled down.

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Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Week Seven

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Big Ten play finally kicked off this week. Given how the teams have played against non-conference teams, I was intrigued to see what their Corsi numbers would look like. For the most part, 5-on-5 play Corsi numbers hovered around 50 percent.

Michigan State and Ohio State faced off, as did Michigan and Penn State. Both series were split, although Michigan’s win over Penn State on Saturday night was very lopsided. The last few minutes of the game were disastrous for Penn State, which allowed five goals in the third.

Since we’re getting into Big Ten play, I want to note that these stats don’t represent how good a team is, just what their possession looks like. And when you’re looking at possession, think of quality scoring chances. Michigan State rarely out-possess opponents, but they’re still able to win for multiple reasons. Jake Hildebrand, their goalkeeper, is very good, and so are some forwards like Mackenzie MacEachern. The most important reason is the Spartans are very good at finding quality scoring chances when they have the puck.

The stats and context are provided below. Because it’s Big Ten play, I listed the stats a little bit differently this week: (more…)