Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Oct. 26Posted by: Jashvina Shah
The past weekend was not a great one for the Big Ten, featuring a few splits. Michigan State split with Western Michigan, Penn State split with AIC, the Gophers split with North Dakota, Notre Dame split with Sacred Heart, Wisconsin split with Northern Michigan. Ohio State and Michigan were the only teams to sweep their opponents, UMass and Vermont, respectively.
There were some other odd things that happened, like Michigan State socring six goals in one game. There were some lackluster defensive performances from Penn State, Notre Dame and Wisconsin, who allowed five, six and five goals in one game, respectively.
The Big Ten, though, still has the best inter-conference record with a winning percentage of .629. Most of those wins have come against Hockey East (although the bottom half of the league).
Michigan will travel to Penn State this weekend, Michigan State will host Lake Superior State, the Gophers will host Clarkson, Nebraska-Omaha, the Buckeyes will play Robert Morris and the Badgers will host St. Lawrence.
(After the jump: These losses will hurt, who’s giving up the least goals and good old inconsistency and Michigan State’s offense)
These losses will hurt
While October results aren’t a strong indication of how a team will actually be, they still factor into the Pairwise at the end of the year. There used to be a running joke that the only non-conference opponents the Big Ten would beat were Atlantic Hockey teams, but that’s not even true anymore. (It wasn’t just a long-running joke, it was true. The Big Ten had a losing record against every conference save Atlantic Hockey). Losing to two bottom-half teams in Atlantic Hockey will hurt any conference bubble teams at the end of the year.
Who’s giving up the least goals?
We’re only a few weeks into the season, but the answer to this question is strange. Jack LaFontaine leads the Big Ten with a .950 save percentage, but he’s still a part of that goaltending rotation in Ann Arbor. Sean Romeo, the transfer from Maine, however, has played in six games and has a .943 save percentage. He’s been the anchor for a Buckeye team that is giving up a surprisingly low 1.33 goals per game.
Yes, the team that usually wins games by outscoring and outskating its opponents currently ranks T-2 in goals allowed per game. It’s still early, but Romeo may surprise us all in net.
Will this be the year the Spartans score?
Michigan State with a good offense, Ohio State with one of the best defenses in the country… it’s odd, but still early. Anyway, scoring in the Big Ten is broken down between mostly Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Michigan State. Penn State’s Denis Smirnov currently leads the league with 10 points, but the Spartans have three players tied for six points, which ranks seventh.
Six points may not seem impressive, but they’ve only played four games – which means these players are averaging 1.5 points per game which, if you’ve followed the Spartan offense recently, know that’s a big number. The leaders are Patrick Khodorenko, Taro Hirose and Mitchell Lewandowski, who should all be making a consistent impact this year. Should the Spartans succeed, despite this being a rebuilding year, that group will play a part.