The Wolverines performance on Friday night seemed familiar to the fans in the stands. I heard more than once that the game seemed to be a duplicate of the Thursday night collapse where RIT came back to take an overtime victory from a sloppy Michigan team. In the third period though the team stepped on the gas and put this one away. Seven goals scored by seven different players was the difference in this game. Unlike Thursday night where only 3 Michigan players (Deblois, Sparks and T. Lynch) were on the positive side of the +/- rating at +2, on Friday night only Clare would come out with a negative rating and he left the game in the 3rd period with an apparent injury to his right arm. He was holding it against his body like it was in a sling when he left the ice and reports are that he left the building with his arm actually in a sling.
Although I didn’t get to see the game on Thursday night and was watching twitter and game tracker updates for details on the game, it seemed to me that the two biggest improvements on the night were that they took fewer penalties (and RIT took a bunch), and they had fewer turnovers in their own end. These two areas are going to need to continue to be areas of emphasis for this team. Compared to a year ago I see a lot more offensive capability from this team, and I think that scoring goals (which I believe was a question mark before the season) is not going to be an issue.
What looked to be a solid defensive core is already starting to be hit with the injury bug. With Merrill likely out for several weeks and now Clare having an injury, what was once a glut of good defensemen is looking a little thinner. We’re in better shape than we were last year by a lot, but we are going to need steady performances out of defensive pairings and hope that we can squash the injury bug.
In my last post I mentioned wanting to write about PDG. I’ve tagged him as my key forward for this year. As much as I like the things I’ve seen out of Guptill, Moffie and Treais, I think that Di Giuseppe is the guy who is going to be the key scorer for this team. If my commentary actually meant any real pressure, it might mean that I was putting a lot of pressure on one guy on this team. Still I think he is going to be one of the key leaders on this team. We’ll keep an eye on PDG in the weeks ahead. I’m excited about the offensive prospects for him and for the team.
In goal, I thought Racine was steady. He wasn’t spectacular and he gave up a lot of rebounds. He also seemed to lose sight of the puck at times, and the defense helped him out. I didn’t get to see Rutledge against RIT, but I did see him for a period against Windsor and thought that he just seemed a bit nervous in the crease. I think both of these guys with a little seasoning are going to be good goalies for the team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Friday/Saturday platoon from these guys at least for a few weeks until Red can see how they actually perform in game situations. In the meantime the defense will have to clear away the rebounds and make sure we don’t give up soft goals.
Now for a few pictures from Section 25.