Friday, November 19, 2010

Week Seven Matchups

Here we are in week seven already. This season is flying by so far, which is kind of disappointing. However, there are still a lot of games to be played.

Last weekend saw Bemidji State get its first win at their new arena. Congrats to them for (finally) getting it.

UND went in to Badger country last weekend and took all four points from the Badgers for the first time in 62 games! I know some of you may not like my take on the Badgers, but I'm still not sold on them. A win last weekend would have went a long way with my, but they dropped two games at home. With that said, they're still better than I thought they would be this season. At the looks of it, they'll probably be in the top three or four to end the season.

UNO continue its hot streak when they walked in to the National Hockey Center and took three of a possible four points from the Huskies with a convincing 3-0 win Friday and a 4-4 tie on Saturday. Dean Blaise's coaching style has not changed one bit. Watching this UNO team is exactly like watching his Sioux teams. They are hard working, hard hitting, and never give up. They don't ever seem to let off of the gas, and it works.

SCSU is now 4-6-2 overall and 2-3-1 in the WCHA. Remember, this is the team that was picked to finish second or third in the WCHA this season. Their biggest problem in that they don't move their feet the entire game. They have got to start skating. They were outplayed badly by UNO last Friday until about the midway point of the second when they finally started to skate to the puck instead of gliding to it. It was still tough to get a shot through the trees they have for defensemen, but they were no longer being outplayed. Saturday's game saw the Huskies come out flying the first two periods and taking a 3-2 lead into the third. The Mavericks came out of the second intermission and were flying (very UND-esque). I don't know if the Huskies were shocked, or what, but they weren't moving their feet for the first 10 minutes of the third and that led to two UNO goals to take a 4-3 lead. It wasn't until the midway point that the Huskies started moving again, and they were reward with 1:04 left with the game tying goal. OT was end-to-end, and both teams had chances to win. The Huskies had the best chance when Ben Hanowski had a mostly open net to shoot at, but shot the puck high. When SCSU starts consistently moving its' feet, they'll be a force to be reckoned with.

Duluth continues its (mostly) hot start with a sweep of Michigan Tech, and Bemidji split with Anchorage in Bemidji.

Last week I went 7-5 in my picks, and would've been 8-4 had I not switched my Bemidji/Alaska picks at the last minute. I am now 47-38 on the season. This week sees five WCHA series and no non-conference series.

Minnesota @ Michigan Tech, Friday/Saturday 6:07
These teams are, surprising, very evenly matched at this point in the season. Yes, the Gophers have found a way to win more games, but the Huskies seem to playing more consistently. Tech boasts a PP that's four points better than the U's, and their PK's are pretty even with Tech getting a slight edge there too. The difference maker in this series could be determined by how many times Tech gets to the penalty box and if the Gophers can capitalize on those opportunities. In my mind, this series is really a coin flip. However, I have to go with the trend for the Gophers right now.
Tech wins Friday 4-2, Gophers win Saturday 4-2

Duluth @ Wisconsin, Friday/Saturday 7:07
This is an interesting series this weekend. When you look at the statistical comparison for each of these teams, they are very evenly matched. Special teams are with a point of each other, and scoring offense/defense is pretty even as well, with Duluth getting a slight edge in goals scored in league games. Wisconsin is coming off of a weekend where they were swept at home, and the Dogs are coming off of a home sweep against Tech. Against the upper echelon teams in the country Wisconsin is winless. With that said, Duluth has really only played UND, where they split. I think UW finally gets the monkey off its back this weekend, but it won't last long.
Wisconsin wins Friday 2-1, Duluth wins Saturday 4-3

North Dakota @ Nebraska-Omaha, Friday 7:37, Saturday 7:07
I am looking forward to this series. I actually with that I were going to this series, because I think it's going to be a great one. Dean Blaise faces his old team for the first time since returning to the college coaching ranks. In the statistical areas, UNO wins the PK battle (almost six points better than UND), and they're scoring over one goal per game more than the Sioux. Both coaches are going to have their teams ready to play, but I don't think Blaise is going to let his predecessor get the better of him right away. This should be a fast paced, hard hitting series, and I envy you who are there.
Omaha wins Friday 5-2, Sioux win Saturday 4-3

Bemidji @ Denver, Friday 8:37, Saturday 8:07
Bemidji takes its second road trip of the season, and it doesn't get any easier at Denver than it did at St. Cloud. Denver is coming off of a sweep of Mankato at home while the Beavers split with Anchorage in Bemidji. Statistically, the Beavers hold a huge advantage on the PP and Denver holds a huge advantage on the PK. Overall, Denver outscoring its opponents by a goal and Bemidji is being outscored by a goal. This game could come down to a special teams battle. I think Denver is going to find the back of the net on the PP more often than Bemidji. Taking into account that this is a road series, in the mountains, for the Beavers, I have to call a sweep.
Denver sweeps 4-1, 4-2

St. Cloud @ Anchorage, Friday 10:37, Saturday 10:07
This is a must sweep series for the Huskies if they have any hopes of finishing in the top three or four in the WCHA. They are currently 2-3-1 so it's still not out of reach, but it's going to be tough. The Huskies holds an advantage on special teams, scoring offense, and scoring defense. Alaska holds the edge in work ethic, at least so far in this early season. Anchorage is a hard working team that will beat to lose pucks if you don't work hard as well. I am down on the Huskies right now because they can't seem to put a full game together. A road trip is just what these guys need to get their season back on track. (Here's what a roadtrip can do for a team.)
Huskies sweep 3-2, 4-3