Thursday, February 21, 2008

Seawolves @ DU: Series Preview

My intention was to have this done yesterday but obviously that didn't happen. My apologies for that. This isn't the most exciting series of the year in terms of opportunities for me to latch onto and bash something about the opponent. Don't get me wrong. I pretty much hate DU as much as any other team. They have some fans that are equally as obsessed with their team as any other opponent. Unfortunately for me, that fanbase doesn't really include any meth-smoking dunderheaded illiterate boobs like UND or paint thinner sniffing commies like Wisconsin or jersey-popping all-mighty jock-sniffers like the Gophers or even overly alcohol imbibed Bulldog nutbags (that means drunk UMD fans). The DU fanbase on the Internet includes old guys who know their shit and/or mildly funny fat guys. As an aging funny mildly fat guy who thinks he knows his shit I'd be out of line to pick on them. Don't get me wrong; they're not as boring as CC's Internet fanbase. So anyway, there's nothing there that I can latch onto; their team itself this season is also rather boring other than the big Trotter mystery. Gwoz did a pretty masterful job of aligning the stars in order to keep the exact nature of Trotter's transgression quiet until Montreal swooped in and took him off DU's hands. I could bust Gwoz's chops for looking like a smug ass behind the bench but I realize that's just his attempt at a poker face.

So what does DU have on the ice? In the net they've got the overachieving Peter Mannino between the pipes. He's played in all but one of DU's 30 games so far this season. There was some talk about him as a Hobey candidate this season but DU's recent slide has put that aside. I personally don't think the guy is any huge talent. He's serviceable. He doesn't have any world class quickness. He doesn't get up and down any better than average. I've always though he was just average. His numbers against UAA are anything but average though. He'll be tough as usual against the Seawolves this weekend. On D the Pios have one really talented blueliner in junior Chris Butler though if it isn't on the Power Play he hasn't been much of a threat to score this year. The Pios game though has been predicated on playing a team defense game with every skater filling an important role in their own zone. They've been fairly opportunistic in transition in the games I've seen on TV. The benificiary of that has been freshman Tyler Bozak with 14 goals so far. Sophomore "R's" (Rakhshani and Ruegsegger) are 2nd and 3rd leading goal scorers but the Seawolves will only have to worry about one of the "R's" as Ruegsegger is out this weekend with a tummy ache. Rookie Kyle Ostrow has bagged 9 goals this year and should be considered a threat as well.

The Pios put the biggest number of the year on the Seawolves with 6 goals in what I termed a Jekyll and Hyde performance back in December. In reviewing what I wrote it's clear that DU won both of those games by finishing their chances and UAA lost by it's failure to finish their chances. Not finishing is clearly UAA's achilles heel this season. There's no real need to say much more than that. If UAA is to win this weekend they need to put the puck in the back of the net more often than they've done so over the course of the season. Is there some magic formula to make that happen? I doubt it. Should they abandon their cycling game? Should they suddenly start trapping? Are there line combos that are going to make it happen?

I tend to think no is the answer to all those questions. It's too late in the season to implement any big philosophical changes in strategy. You've got to go with what you know at this point. The Seawolves clearly outplayed DU for substantial portions of the series here in Anchorage. They've had many such examples of that kind of play against some of the highest ranked teams in the country including CC and UND. This weekend its a matter of maintaining that high level of play for 60 minutes both nights. Being consistent doesn't mean being average. It has to be a consistent effort at the highest possible level. This Seawolves team is capable of that. They haven't quite achieved it but they definitely have the potential to do it.


wwn said...

"The DU fanbase on the Internet includes old guys who know their shit and/or mildly funny fat guys."

:D It's funny because it's true.

Puck swami said...

I think you pretty much hit it on the head, Donald.

Well done.

Donald Dunlop said...

Nah. It's sort of a half-assed preview. Bozak is a better story than my brief mention. Only talking about Butler overlooks the workman-like job that DU's other defensemen must have been doing all season long. I know Gwoz talks about "team defense" and I only briefly touched on that as well. I talked plenty about how I don't think Mannino is "all that and a bag of chips" but barely mentioned his stellar numbers and record against UAA which would actually tend to discredit my view that he isn't a stud. I could have mentioned that Jesse Martin and Kane Lafranchise were teammates for a year at Spruce Grove and/or that Craig Parkinson, Winston Daychief and Tommy Grant are all familiar with Bozak and Ostrow from their BCHL days last season. All in all its my thinnest preview of the season. I'll attribute that to the continuing neck pain I've been suffering from for about two weeks and perhaps some end of the season malaise induced by a season that hasn't lived up to the high expectations I had at the beginning of the year.

I should have written more for DU fans who stop by as well. I could have mentioned that Kevin Clark is a dynamic player who can make things happen. Or I could have talked about Josh Lunden's consistent production or Paul Crowder's intelligent play. I could have talked about how Mat Robinson is the most underrated defenseman in the WCHA (seriously ... watch #33 when he has the puck). I could have let DU fans know how well UAA always finishes their checks. In the past I've detailed the UAA game plan and talked more about specific opportunities against that weekend's opponent.

I really did none of that this week.

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