Early Concerns in Hockeyland

Michigan is now three games into the hockey season and holds a 2-0-1 record with a tie against Mercyhurst* and two wins over Bowling Green. This is not ideal (both teams are not good and a team as good as Michigan should have won all three) but it's an acceptable start. That said, Michigan's early performances have included a highly disturbing knack to take excessive numbers of penalties, which will hurt us greatly in the long run unless the issue is resolved.

Through three games, Michigan has given up 25 powerplays (and thankfully opponents have only converted on 3 opportunities, which bodes well for the penalty killing unit), and taken 93 penalty minutes, including 3 majors coupled with game misconducts. This means that Michigan is giving up a staggering 8.33 powerplays a game and an equally staggering 31 penalty minutes a game. In the second game of the Bowling Green series, Scooter Vaughn alone managed to take 17 penalty minutes (2 for roughing after the whistle, 5 for checking from behind, and 10 credited for a game misconduct). This is simply unsustainable if we want to win anything this year. If we play this sloppily (and thuggishly) against top-flight CCHA schools like Miami and Notre Dame, we will be eviscerated.

On the bright side, Michigan has scored 4 goals every game and outside an atrocious defensive lapse in the third period against Mercyhurst, has dominated the competition. The special teams play has been particularly encouraging, as Michigan has scored a powerplay goal every game and is off to an encouraging 4-14 start on the powerplay, has given up only 3 goals on 25 penalty kills, and has scored two shorthanded goals to boot. And Louie Caporusso, who struggled for a lot of the season last year, is off to a great 2G-4A-6P start. If we can stop taking so many penalties, we should be a force to be reckoned with this season.

*It should be noted that Mercyhurst nominally won the game because there was a shootout OT ended, which Mercyhurst won 2-1. However the shootout didn't count because shootouts only affect the conference standings and this was a non-conference game.

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