Fear not. I'm not going to continue to sing the praises of serial killer Eddy Gein here. But a dissection of the Badgers is necessary. No need to be squeamish, there will be no blood.
The first thing to look at is the hide of a Badger. For the sake of this metaphoric pre-game autopsy I'll say that the goaltender is the hide. The integumentary system of any mammal primarily serves to keep the beast waterproof and warm. Badger goaltending has typically done this job very well. For a couple of decades or so Badger goaltending coach Bill Howard was known for breaking down a young goalie and building him back up. A couple of them over time sure seemed to be unbeatable. But Howard is gone. Badger fans are relatively split about Shane Connelly's abilities. He is 6-5-2 this season. Backup Scott Gudmandson is 1-2 in his only appearances. I'm going to go out on a bit of limb and predict that Gudmandson gets a start this weekend. Both guys aren't big. Connelly is 5ft 9in; Gudmanson is 5ft 10in.
If Eaves looks at one statistic I think he'll realize why the Badgers went winless in their first seven and have only one loss in their last nine. Shots on goal. In the first 7 games they gave up 266 shots for a 38/game average. In the next 9 games they gave up 234 shots for a 26/game average. I'd say that team defense has been a big factor in both their early losing streak and their current winning streak. Team defense is best related to the muscular system of the Badger. It's obviously the first thing we see when we tear back the skin. Eaves coached teams have used team defense for every success they've ever had. The fact that it took this years team 7 games to figure out that everybody has backcheck is a bit surprising to me. But hey ... they figured it out. The Seawolves better not be expecting to put 40 shots on net either night.
The next thing you'll see on the autopsy table is the guts. The heart, liver, lungs, stomach and intestines. All the stuff that really makes the animal go. This season Blake Geoffrion looks like the heart. His goals have helped spur an offense that hitherto had come from the lungs; defenseman Jamie McBain and Brendan Smith. McBain and Smith are still the leading scorers. They can thank the Badger power-play for that. 6 of their combined 7 goals have come on the PP. 5 of Geoffrion's 7 goals have come on the PP. 3 of Tom Gorowsky's 5 tallies have come on the PP. Noticing a trend here? The Badgers have scored 31 non-power play goals out of their total of 50. Their scoring is relatively balanced with 13 guys who have 2 or more goals.
Perhaps the most critical system in any living being is the gastrointestinal system. Without the ability to intake food, process it and excrete the waste a thing can't live. Mike Eaves does that job for the Badgers. He gobbles up as many recruits as he can by promising them the world. He gets them in his gut and keeps some of them there. And then he craps out the rest. Yes. I'm saying that along with being the mouthpiece and digestion ... that Mike Eaves is the anus. One might perhaps argue that he is the brains. But I think that is insulting since a Badger brain typically is smaller in proportion to body mass than most other mammals. They aren't the brightest bulbs in the mammalian kingdom ya know? Eaves and real Badgers have something in common. They both have historically short tempers.
All that makes the Badgers less than mysterious to me. If the Seawolves do a good job of staying out of the box their chances will be better. The Seawolves game plan shouldn't be a mystery to anyone at this point. The Shyiak "system" is all about puck possession and forechecking in the opponent's zone and a committed effort on the backcheck. The Seawolves are giving up an average of 22.7 shots per game. That is a testament to the excellent job of blocking shots by the team. They'll need the same effort this weekend. Keep the Badgers off the power play, keep the shots against total to the season average and the team should come away with a nice share of the points available. They'll need to keep the same effort as we've seen most of the season. They'll need a solid transition game. Olthuis and Christianson will have to continue to be sharp. Guys who haven't been scoring will need to contribute offensively. Guys who have been scoring will need to continue to score. Look for at least one shorthanded Seawolf goal this weekend.
College Hockey News has done the Seawolves a favor this week. They named the Badger as their Team of the Week. St. Cloud was their Team of the Week last week and promptly went out and got pounded 5-1 by UMD. WCHA teams typically don't fare well after receiving this alleged honor. There seems to be a bit of the Sports Illustrated cover jinx at work. I remember after UAA was named Team of the Week. The Seawolves were swept in their next series. It's an intangible that I don't really believe in however, I do also have a completely illogical superstitious side. I guess we'll see if there is anything to it.