Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Preview a St. Bob Fan Can Understand

In the cross-cultural spirit of bettering communications and for the ultimate benefit of humankind in general this post will have two distinct elements. I'll breakdown the Huskies II team in various ways in an attempt to discern the Seawolves chances this weekend. Concurrent with this breakdown I'll provide translation services for this week's SCSU reading contingent.
Translation: I'm doing this to make the world better. The straight poop on the Huskies is coming and if you read the parts that look like this one (in between the big words in green) then you'll be all good.
The first meaningful statistic to capture the attention of my visual cortex and then subseqently be cogitated: the line of Nodl, Dey and Gordon has scored 26 of the teams 65 goals so far this season (40%). Former UMD washout Dan Kronick (8g) must feel deeply indebted for being graced with the chance to play on the same line as gifted playmaker and scorer Ryan Lasch (9g-11a) but it doesn't appear reciprocal from either Kronick (5a) other linemate Swanson (5g-5a). Nevertheless it's a solid duo of scoring lines for UAA to contend with. Offensive contributions from the defensive unit are thin with only 7 goals coming from the blueliners. Their power play is a respectable .234 overall (22g - 18g) but a slightly less respectable .209 (14g - 12 games) in conference play.
Translation: Something caught my eye. I noticed the #1 line is pretty good and they scored a bunch so far. It's too bad Ryan Lasch has to play with stiffs but two scoring lines is better than one Polaris with vapor lock. Nobody from the D can score. PP ain't great but it ain't crap either.
A 2.11 overall GAA is definitely not to be taken lightly. In general the GAA is a statistic that defines how well a team does keeping the puck out of the net but as was the case last year in St. Cloud a bigger portion of that stat than normally associated is a direct result of goaltender Bobby Goepfert. In conference play SCSU goaltenders have faced 372 shots while their opponents only faced 328. Yet in the same 12 games they outscored their conference opponents 40 to 30. They've basically shined on the PK both in and out of conference with an overall 88.9 percent effectiveness. So while there is a distinct lack of offensive creativity and/or talent in the back the squad is doing it's job. Good backchecking especially from the 3rd and 4th lines would be a likely contributor to their overall effective team defense but my suspicion would be that Goepfert's presence in the crease keeps the 2.11 from being a 3.25.
Translation: A really good goalie and guys that play really hard when they're shorthanded keeps lots of goals out of the net so it doesn't matter if the defensemen couldn't score in a Spenard Brothel.
Size, Speed and Skating:
The Huskies aren't particularly tall (5' 11.88" average for 32nd in D-1) nor are they particularly big (191.58lbs for 24th in D-I). As a reference UAA is the 2nd tallest and 5th heaviest team in D-1. In terms of skating I'll assume St. Cloud can get up and down the ice pretty well. Ryan Lasch is a speed merchant and I know from last season that Gordon and Swanson can make pretty good time.
Translation: The team isn't big and strong. Lasch is a stud. Some other guys are good skaters.
UAA should be able to use it's size to advantage this weekend. The Huskies aren't going to outskate the Seawolves but I there's no reason to expect UAA to outskate SCSU. There isn't any indication that SCSU presents any unique defensive challenges. UAA's blueliners might be the best skaters collectively among WCHA defensemen so transitionally there isn't anything other than normal concern for maintaining themselves positionally. The Seawolves faced Peter Mannino a couple of weeks ago and Gwoz said that he played the best game of his career. Goepfert plays like that most nights. UAA needs to use its forechecking abilities to create a few turnovers and get some opportunistic chances and more importantly battle hard for position on whatever rebounds are available. They'll have to control the puck effectively on the PP to forestall any aggressive penalty killing. After that it's the same thing as every other weekend. Convert on the PP when you get your chances and stay out of the box as much as possible. Moving the puck effectively in transition will also be important this weekend. Having to setup for a breakout will allow SCSU to strategically position themselves to counter the transition in the neutral zone. Heads up play along with smart passing from the puck handling defensemen will be necessary and smart play like that across the board could be the difference for UAA on the weekend.
Translation: UAA is bigger. Skating is mostly a wash. Huskies aren't anything new. UAA's defensemen are all budding Bobby Orr's. Mannino's best night equals Goepferts usual night. Goepfert is really good. UAA needs to play hard and smart to avoid the trap.


dggoddard said...

WCHA Regular Season Championships:
Mannino 1 - Grapefruit 0
WCHA Playoff Championships:
Mannino 1 - Grapefruit 0
National Championships:
Mannio 1 - Grapfruit 0
NCAA Shutouts:
Mannino 8 - Grapefruit 7

Mannino's a Junior & Grapefruit is a Senior.

Anonymous said...

I like the Spenard reference. Nice post.

Donald said...

This was the best thing I wrote all week and had the fewest readers.

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