Game Previews

Penn State Preview

 

                                               Penn State (7-25-2) vs #12 Michigan (18-12-4)
                                                                 3/20/14 at Xcel Energy Center
                                                                           2:00pm CT (BTN)

MGoBlue.com

The Wolverines survived a weekend series against Minnesota, moving on to their 5th must win series in a row.

Everyone is picking Penn State as their upset pick Friday and if Michigan doesn't approach this game like it's against the #1 team in the nation they could see their season come to an end.

Forwards

Team Offense Power Play
2.26 GPG, 51st NCAA 23-of-125, 26th NCAA

 

Name GP Scoring Line SOG SH% +/- PIMS
Eric Scheid 34 11-9--20 77 .143 -20 4-8
David Goodwin 32 7-10--17 77 .091 -8 10-20
Taylor Holstrom 34 7-9--16 69 .101 -17 10-20
Dylan Richard 28 4-10--14 35 .114 -3 1-2
Casey Bailey 30 9-4--13 116 .076 -20 10-20
Ricky DeRosa 30 5-7--12 46 .109 -9 6-12
Tommy Olcyk 33 5-5--10 79 .063 -11 2-4
Zach Saar 31 4-6--10 63 .063 -13 19-38
Curtis Loik 26 6-3--9 57 .105 -2 1-2
Kenny Brooks 34 4-5--9 86 .047 -10 14-39
David Glen 30 3-5--8 80 .038 +2 18-58
Jonathan Milley 18 1-3--4 33 .030 -6 11-25

Offensively it's been tough sledding for Penn State this season. Goals have been hard to come by, unless they're playing Michigan. Early on almost all of the scoring came from their Top-6, with Eric Scheid carrying the load and no secondary scoring.

In a season of misfortune it was only fitting that around the time Penn State started to get secondary scoring, the rest of the team would go ice cold. Dylan Richard, Casey Bailey and Taylor Holstrom are producing. David Goodwin, Zach Saar and Eric Scheid are not.

The lone bright spot for Penn State is the power play which is converting at 18% but has scored 23 goals, 3 less than Michigan's 17th ranked unit. A parade to the box will be bad news for the Wolverines, who have a player or two that seem to have drawn a target from Big Ten officials.

After four games Michigan is well aware of the Penn State mentality on offense. The Nittany Lions will establish a hard forecheck, shoot from anywhere on the ice and go hard to the net on every shift. Zach Nagelvoort looked shaky with his rebound control Friday against Minnesota and was fighting off some of his shots, but Saturday he was sharp. Red needs him locked in from the opening puck drop.

Everything has to be clean for the Wolverines moving the puck out of the zone. The Michigan blueline has shown that when they control the puck, keep teams out of transition and limit turnovers Zach Nagelvoort and Steve Racine handle almost anything that comes their way. When they turn it over in the defensive zone and let teams skate in transition Michigan starts to have problems. This will be the difference between a comfortable win and a miserable loss.

With a healthy blueline expect the pairs to stay the same. Mike Downing, Kevin Clare and Brennan Serville on the left with Mac Bennett, Kevin Lohan and Andrew Sinelli on the right.

After The Break: Defense and Goalies

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Minnesota Preview

 

                                             #1 Minnesota (24-4-6) at #13 Michigan (17-11-4)
                                                         3/14/14 - 3/15/14 at Yost Ice Arena
                                                  6:30pm ET (ESPNNews) - 7:00pm ET (BTN)

Gophersports.com

For the 4th week in a row the Woverines find themselves in a must win series, but this time we have reached the end of the line. With only two regular season games left Michigan is running out of chances and must get at least a split against the #1 team for any hope of salvaging an at-lage bid.

Forwards

Team Offense Power Play
3.53 GPG, 6th NCAA 30-of-152, 19.74% - 17th NCAA

 

Name GP Scoring Line SOG SH% +/- PIMS
Kyle Rau 34 10-22--32 98 .102 +19 7-14
Sam Warning 33 12-19--31 73 .164 +25 13-26
Hudson Fasching 33 12-15-27 84 .143 +19 11-22
Justin Kloos 34 11-15--26 91 .121 +11 8-16
Travis Boyd 28 9-16--25 95 .095 +7 6-12
Taylor Cammarata 32 9-12--21 46 .196 +6 3-6
Seth Ambroz 34 13-7--20 103 .126 +7 10-20
Nate Condon 34 7-12--19 65 .108 +10 5-10
Connor Reilly 30 6-6--12 44 .136 +3 1-2
Vinni Lettieri 30 2-6--8 40 .050 +7 4-8
Tom Serratore 28 3-4--7 39 .077 +9 6-15
Gabe Guertler 17 2-3--5 23 .087 +5 5-10
Christian Isackson 18 1-3--4 18 .056 +1 0-0

Last month all of Michigan's mistakes came first circle against this Minnesota team. In 5-on-5 situations the Gophers didn't generate many scoring chances in the offensive zone against Steve Racine but Michigan didn't control the puck, pinched at the wrong times and missed coverages. It was a road blowout all because of unforced errors.

The freshman trio of Kloos, Fasching and Cammarata continues to produce with the upperclassmen group of Ambroz, Condon and Kyle Rau. As a team, the Gophers handle the puck in-zone better than anyone in the country and they set the tone with a 200 foot game.

For the Wolverines to have any chance this weekend they have to play 60 minutes and can not make mistakes. We can't keep up in a skating competition against a team like Minnnesota; giving up breakaways and 2-on-1's like we did a month ago will lose us this series.

When the Gophers establish their forecheck it's relentless, something our blueline does not handle well. Our best hope is that the blueline abandons any offense whatsoever. When they try to make long passes on the breakout or create offense in the attacking zone is where our defensemen get in a lot of trouble.

The Wolverines get some much needed assistance with Mac Bennett returning from injury. It will be interesting to see where he plays; Mac is a lefty but the last time he played left D was a disaster and the right side has Kevin Lohan, Brennan Serville and Andrew Sinelli. I had hoped that Serville would stay on the left after Penn State before Mac was injured, so we will see if he moves back.

After The Break: Defense and Goalies

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Michigan State Preview

 

                                          Michigan State (9-15-7) vs #12 Michigan (16-10-4)
                                        3/7/14 at Yost Ice Arena - 3/8/14 at Munn Ice Arena
                                             7:00pm ET (Comcast 900) - 7:00pm ET (FSD)

 

MGoBlue

Michigan survived a must win series against Ohio State, improving to 12th in the RPI and getting some breathing room but the Wolverines aren't out of the woods yet. A sweep of the Spartans could move Michigan back into a comfortable position in the rankings; a loss would have a catastrophic impact on the Wolverines at-large chances.

It's been a forgettable season for Michigan State. The Spartans have 1 regulation win this season against a team above 40 in the RPI and it came against Michigan in the GLI; they rank bottom 50 in 5-on-5 offense and power play and have the 48th ranked penalty kill. The season is all but over for the Spartans, but they still have a chance to play spoiler.

 

Forwards

Team Offense Power Play
2.10 GPG, 54th NCAA 16-of-127, 12.60% - 55th NCAA

 

Name GP Scoring Line SOG SH% +/- PIMS
Greg Wolfe 31 11-12--23 89 .124 +1 6-12
Lee Reimer 30 7-11--18 69 .101 +2 5-10
Michael Ferrantino 31 8-9--17 78 .103 +6 5-10
Matt Berry 19 6-7--13 56 .107 +3 8-16
Joe Cox 31 6-6--12 47 .128 +6 5-10
Dean Chelios 29 1-11--12 34 .029 +1 4-8
Mackenzie MacEachern 31 7-4--11 70 .100 -2 7-14
Villiam Haag 30 6-4--10 74 .081 -4 4-8
Thomas Ebbing 31 2-7--9 44 .045 -5 4-8
Brent Darnell 27 2-3--5 51 .039 -2 7-14
Ryan Keller 22 2-3--5 38 .053 +1 2-4
Matt DeBlouw 18 0-2--2 21 .000 EV 7-17

The expectations coming into the year were high for this group of forwards, returning production from a year before and bringing in three talented freshman. Things didn't go as planned as the Spartans lost Matt Berry early in the year and the rest of the group underperformed. Tom Anastos needed big years from Tanner Sorenson, Matt DeBlouw and Brent Darnell after combining for 33 goals in 2012, but this season have managed just 4.

The freshman trio of Cox, Haag and MacEachern carried the team in the first half, but when the freshman cooled down the upperclassmen never broke out of their slumps and the Spartan goal scoring ground to a halt.

These teams have played 3 times this season so we know what to expect from the Spartans, a hard forecheck and pucks on net from any area of the ice. The Wolverines have done a better job protecting the puck in recent weeks but they still have had problems with turnovers; a high scoring game is not the kind of game Michigan wants to be in, they have to control the puck and keep an inept Michigan State offense from forcing turnovers in Michigan's zone and limit opportunities in transition to slow the Spartans down.

Mac Bennett isn't expected to play this weekend. The pairings should look similar to last week's with Downing, Clare and De Jong on the left; Serville, Chiasson/Sinelli and Lohan on the right.

 

Defense and Goalies after the break

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Ohio State Preview

 

                                                Ohio State (15-10-3) vs #13 Michigan (15-10-3)
                                        2/28/14 At Yost Ice Arena - 3/2/14 at Value City Arena
                                               6:30pm (Big Ten Network) - 1:00pm (FS Detroit)

MGoBlue

The Wolverines loss to Penn State has put them in a must win situation for the rest of the year. This weekend is crucial in the national rankings as well as in the Big Ten, with Michigan only 3 points above a much improved Buckeye team who would love to play the spolier.

Forwards

Team Offense Power Play
3.39 GPG, 7th NCAA 27-of-124, 21.77% - 11th NCAA

 

Name GP Scoring Line SOG SH% +/- PIMS
Ryan Dzingel 28 17-21--38 87 .195 +11 11-30
Max McCormick 28 11-15--26 94 .117 -6 17-34
Tanner Fritz 23 5-20--25 45 .111 -1 2-4
Nick Oddo 28 7-17--24 57 .123 +20 9-29
Alex Szczechura 26 7-13--20 50 .140 -3 3-6
Nick Schilkey 18 9-10--19 76 .118 +4 4-8
Darik Angeli 27 8-4--12 68 .118 +5 10-20
Tyler Lundey 28 5-6--11 47 .106 EV 9-18
Anthony Greco 24 3-8--11 67 .045 -1 2-4
David Gust 18 5-4--9 27 .185 +3 2-4

The story around this team is their junior class; Ryan Dzingel, Max McCormick, Tanner Fritz, Nick Oddo and Darik Angeli make up one of the best classes of junior forwards in the nation and have carried this team all season long. The Top-6 sets the tone but not just with their scoring; the Buckeyes are relentless on the forecheck with a heavy 2-1-2 and it starts with the top line. They love to get down in the zone below the faceoff dots and put pressure on the defensemen to move the puck out, something the Wolverines have struggled with all year.

The key for Michigan will be handling the Ohio State forecheck. The Buckeyes excel at creating offense from forced turnovers in the defensive and neutral zones. When these teams met the first time the Wolverines had a clear at all costs mentality and would chip the puck up the boards into the neutral zone just to get it out; Ohio State was quick to turn the puck back with their counter and go right back into the zone on the attack. The blueline will need to make the smart play; chip pucks off the glass, no passes to the middle and no reverses below the icing line. Kevin Clare had his best game of the year last Saturday, we need that again.

Penn State ran Michigan over Friday night; on Saturday the Wolverines switched the defensive positions and had a successful night. Red moved Brennen Serville from right defense to left and I thought he played one of his better games as a Wolverine. On two different occasions in his career Serville looked like he turned the corner before getting injured; his development at right defense is stagnant but playing on the left gives him new energy a chance to turn things around.

Mac Bennett will not play this weekend after leaving Saturday's game with an upper-body injury. If Red keeps Serville on the left with Kevin Clare and Mike Downing, Mike Chiasson will stay on the right side with Lohan and Sinelli.

Defense and Goalies after the break

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Penn State Preview

 

                                                #10 Michigan (14-9-3) at Penn State (5-19-2)
                                                         2/21/14 - 2/22/14 at Yost Ice Arena
                                                       6:30pm ET (BTN) - 7:00pm ET (FSD+)

Photo:Mark Selders

After three straight road losses, Michigan returns home needing two wins to stay in the RPI Top-10 and avoid falling out of the top half of the Big Ten standings. The Wolverines will have do without 1st pair left defensemen Mike Downing and 2nd pair right defensemen Andrew Sinelli who will serve 1 game suspensions Friday night, but will have winger Alex Guptill and defensemen Kevin Lohan back in the lineup.

Forwards

Team Offense Power Play
2.23 GPG, 52nd NCAA 16-of-94, 17.02% - 40th NCAA

 

Name GP Scoring Line SOG SH% +/- PIMS
Eric Scheid 26 11-8--19 60 .183 -10 2-4
Ricky DeRosa 24 5-7--12 35 .143 -4 5-10
David Goodwin 24 5-7--12 59 .085 -4 8-16
Taylor Holstrom 26 4-8--12 47 .085 -16 6-12
Zach Saar 24 4-5--9 49 .082 -9 14-28
Casey Bailey 22 5-3--8 89 .056 -12 7-14
Tommy Olczyk 25 4-3--7 59 .068 -11 2-4
David Glen 22 3-4--7 62 .048 -2 14-50
Dylan Richard 20 3-4--7 28 .107 EV 1-2
Kenny Brooks 26 2-4--6 75 .027 -9 10-31
Curtis Loik 18 3-2--5 37 .081 -3 1-2
Jonathan Milley 13 0-3--3 21 .000 -6 9-21

Eric Scheid leads the forwards in scoring by a wide margin with 11 goals; Scheid was all over the ice in the previous series against Michigan driving to the net hard and setting the tone early. Freshman Ricky DeRosa has been coming into his own the past few weeks as well as Casey Bailey and Zach Saar.

Two weeks ago the Nittany Lions took advantage of Michigan's blueline with a heavy forecheck. They forced turnovers in the defensive zone, drove the net hard and exploited the Wolverines weak center lane coverage. To avoid a similar performance the blueline has to cut down the turnovers, use the glass to get the puck out of the zone and play defense first. They can't allow Penn State to score the first goal; when Michigan falls behind that's when the blueline tries too hard to generate offense and they get in trouble defensively.

Mike Chiasson and Kevin Lohan will both return to the lineup for Friday's game. They don't need to provide anything fancy on the offensive end, all we need is a mistake free game.

 

After The Break Defense and Goalies

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