Wednesday, December 08, 2010

DU: Smoke and Mirrors?

George Gwozdecky is a head games artist.  I should say artiste actually.  He's the consummate subtle spin doctor of the WCHA.  Almost nothing that George says can or should ever be taken at face value.  If he's answering a question about Jesse Martin's injury progess you'll likely find a subtle reference sandbagging his team's chances or if he's talking about a just concluded hard fought win he'll slip in some sort of inference about his team's luck.  He's a misdirector.

This week he's apparently commented that "things" affecting his team this week will be Alaska's short days, the two-hour time difference and dehydration from the long plane ride.  Yeah ... Okay ...

Seriously though, the shorter days create sluggish play on the part of visiting teams? Somehow when that sun sets Friday at 3:42pm as it will in Anchorage instead of 4:37pm as it will in Denver his team will be induced into sluggishness by 7pm?

The time difference?  You mean like jet lag?  Um, hate to tell you this ... but jet-lag is only truly applicable over such few time zones when one travels west to east.  In this case, a short two hour nap makes the adjustment from east to west.  DU will have two full nights of sleeping prior to the game on Friday.  So um yeah ... bogus misdirection.

Dehydration from the long plane flight?  Again here ... we're talking a Wednesday when your boys might get a little dry skin from not drinking enough on a low humidity 5 or 6 hour plane ride and the game is on Friday.  More meaningless misdirection.

See what I'm saying.  George just spews stuff that has nothing to do with what's really going on.  And what's really going on with the DU team?  Mr. Smoke and Mirrors ain't gonna tell anyone.

I think the Pios are surprising George and he doesn't quite know how to account for it yet.  He already spent his whole "we're really young" quote budget when he kept pointing that out just before his team ran off 7 wins in a row sparked by 12 and 13 goals from a couple of underclassmen.  Yeah, that PR gambit failed eh?  He should know one thing though, that DU's record is probably better than the team.

Their 7 game winning streak was ... 3-2 and 6-1 over Mankato at Magness, 3-1 and 4-2 over Bemidji at Magness, 6-3 over LSSU at Magness, 3-1 over Air Force at Magness then 5-4 OT over Duluth in Duluth before the Bulldogs ended the streak the next night 2-1.  The Pios are 3-3-1 in road games so far this season compared to 8-2-1 at home.

As for common opponents.  DU split with Duluth, UAA lost both games to Duluth.  The Pios took 3 points from Bucky, UAA split with Bucky.  The Pios split with UND, UAA tied UND in their only game so far.  The Pios swept Bemidji, UAA split with them.  DU swept Mankato, UAA managed 1 point versus them.  The Pios split with CC, UAA is 1-2 versus them.  Both DU and UAA beat Air Force.

So in that last couple of paragraphs above, I smell something less than an 11-5-2 record would otherwise be assumed to indicate.  The Pios like the Badgers before them are simply ... oh so beatable.

The strength of this years Pioneers seems to be similar to one of UAA's.  Both teams are getting dependable and vital performances from a core of upperclassmen.  In UAA's case, it's Tommy Grant, Sean Wiles, Nick Haddad, Craig Parkinson, Luka Vidmar, Brad Gorham, Curtis Leinweber and Jade Portwood ... in DU's case it's Maiani, Nutini, Ostrow, Ryder, Dewhurst, Lee and Salazar.  Scoring wise the UAA upperclassmen have nabbed 18 goals while DU's group has 19.

Combine that core of upperclass solidity with dynamic youngsters and you've got a pretty nice mix.  For UAA the youth is Kwas, Bailey, Cameron, Warner, Pustin, Kirchevel and McLeod who've combined for 16 goals and for DU it's Jason Zucker who's buried 12 goals plus Makowski and Bennett's 3 goals each for 18. 

The sophomore edge for DU is huge though.  UAA has two players that have combined for 3 goals and DU has Drew Shore's team leading 13 plus Matt Donovan's 4 goals.

Overall, DU has 9 players that have 2 goals or more.  UAA has 10 players that have 2 goals or more.  UAA's two leading goal scorers have 6 each.  DU has three players with more than 6 goals each. 

I think that all spells out a couple of things.  UAA has a more balanced scoring lineup that does DU.  However, DU is scoring 3.17 goals per game versus UAA's 2.38.  More importantly perhaps is that DU is giving up just 2.61 goals per game compared to UAA's 3.25.

In goal it appears that one-time successor sophomore Adam Murrary has been usurped by the play of freshman Sam Brittain.  Brittain has a nice .929 save percentage.  UAA's Rob Gunderson has a save percentage of .936 in his last 4 games though it's .901 for the season.

So what we've got here is two teams that are more alike than not.  They both have solidly performing rookie goaltenders.  Both teams have a mix of dependable veteran players who perform well in all areas of the ice for their team combined with some dynamic underclassmen who've been providing a nice part of the scoring punch.

The two primary injury omissions from the DU lineup are Jesse Martin (neck) and Beau Bennett (knee).  Otherwise they appear to be most healthy.  For UAA it looks like Jade Portwood (shoulder) will be out until the 2nd half and we'll have to wait and see if Mitch Bruijsten's back problems last weekend have cleared up for action this weekend.

So that's about it.  Excuse me for thinking Denver isn't "all that".  But they aren't.


Anonymous said...

I hope a lot of Murrays friends show up like last year so UAA can shut them up. That was fun.

BBEF said...


All things considered, I think UAA is all that and a bag of chips. Maybe even with a soda…

I smell what you’re stepping in and hate to bust your balls but UAA is 1-2 against the Bears this season.

I think Murray will get a start this weekend. It’s only fair.

I fully expect no less than 2 points for UAA. 3 or 4 is out of the question.

Donald Dunlop said...

Murray has only appeared in 4 games so far this season. It wouldn't be unreasonable to speculate that he'd get a start up here. But I won't believe it until it happens. I think the most likely way for Murray to get in a game would be for UAA to blow out Brittain on Friday night. Maybe the Murray supporters will cheer for UAA if Brittain gets the start on Friday?

BBEF said...

3 or 4 is NOT NOT NOT out of the questions…sorry …

Donald Dunlop said...

And the 1-2 record versus CC has been corrected.

Anonymous said...

I say start Murray Friday night. He was an absolute sieve last year. That game was the most fun I had at a Seawolf game last season. If Murray starts UAA will beat him. Too much pressure to preform back in his hometown. I thought I saw him puke on himself after the game last year.

puck swami said...

DU will have a talent edge, but losing Bennett is another serious blow for the Pioneers.

I bet Murray does play and he needs to atone for his poor performance at UAA last year, as well as a tough start this year. DU needs to know if the kid can play at this level or not.

UAA plays DU tough. The Pioneers may not be the best team in the country, but national #9 is probably about right. Winning games at UMD and UND prove they can win against good teams on the road, and if they play to capabilities, they should win at least once in Alaska.

I predict a split.

Alaskana said...

I predict nothing less than a UAA sweep. Brittain starts Friday, Murray on Saturday. Hope they are both sieves.

And way to go UAA for the free ticket offer! Now that is what I call a PROACTIVE step to get more butts in the seats!

Anonymous said...

Donald fan

I think UAA is going to get run out of the building for two games. DU is a fast talented team. I would love to be proved wrong.

BBEF said...

@ anon 8:23 - really dude? eat a dick asshole!

On Wolves said...

CALL TO DU FANS: You jackholes who shout at UAA fans in our own building. I'll be looking for ya. That crap ends tonight.

I'll be there , proudly sporting my gold sweater.

On Wolves said...

Also, according to the Denver Post Murray will be between the pipes tonight. SIEVE, SIEVE, SIEVE!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Murray hopes to improve on his 5.74 GAA and .827 save percentage!! Wow, I was pretty ticked when Murray dissed UAA's offer and went to Denver, but it's probably good for UAA that he did.

Those numbers are awful. Even worse than Olthuis and Christianson.

Anonymous said...

Really nice comparisons of the teams! I would point out that in almost every one, DU is still at LEAST a little better than UAA. I would be content with a point against our sieve Murray if i were you.

No doubt Gwoz is surprised to being doing this well. This young DENVER team has played the third most difficult schedule in the country (including splits IN North Dakota and IN Duluth). This isn't just a top 10 team like the polls suggest... this is the #3 team in the PairWise and #4 team in the KRACH!!!

Donald Dunlop said...

PairWise has validity on one day. The last day of the season. In my view, any mention of it before that day is the worst sort of masturbatory bullshit. All rankings and polls etc are just dumb. What? People can't go around bragging about who their team has beaten? They have to find some justification to prop up their support of their team? I don't get it. Polls are dumb. Come here ... read and comment ... all good. But don't talk about polls. TY

You had something to say. You said it. But lookie ... it isn't there anymore. Aw ... gee

Anonymous said...

Donald - SB Nation makes these comments and with key word links to your blog.....
"UAAfan has a fan's perspective preview of the 2010-2011 season of the Seawolves. Along with some pretty strong opinions about the Pios this season."

Go Seawolves!

Donald Dunlop said...

Of the last 100 hits here only 1 has come from that site.

There's a couple of things you'll need to know to successfully post in my comments section. 1st is the warning that you obviously didn't read either time you tried. See ... your "ONLY" intent here is negativity. Combined with negative personal comments directed at me means your comments see the light of day so ever briefly.

The 2nd thing is that I write here for Seawolves fans. So in general, take your adolescent bullshit somewhere else. I don't want to see it. My readers tell me they don't want to see it. Getting the message? Find some other venue to troll.

Anonymous said...

Polls definitely don't tell the whole story about a team, agreed. Still, the point being made is that with the third hardest strength of schedule, DU is kicking some serious ass. UAA with the fifth hardest SOS (shows how much better the seawolves are than their record shows) is still not on the same level as the pioneers. just, don't fool anyone in thinking UAA can win...

Donald Dunlop said...

Same thing every week in the WCHA ... SCSU fans say there's no way their team should lose ... Wisconsin fans say there's no way their team should lose ...

Meanwhile, UAA fans watch their team not only beat both teams on one night but should have beat them the 2nd night as well.

See, here's the thing. Few if any of you fans from outside know anything about the Seawolves. Most know nothing. You wrap yourselves in a cocoon of your own teams colors, mix in a dose of history and viola you've got all the answers you need.

The Seawolves have been playing some legitimately good hockey so far this season. There is zero reason to suspect that DU will sweep, there is every reason to suspect that UAA will win one game and there are legitimate reasons to think that UAA can sweep.

That's the way it is. I haven't watched hockey since 1971 without knowing when the team I'm supporting has a legitimate chance for a sweep. This Seawolves team will hopefully do exactly that this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Donald, I am the SBNation writer. Just wanted to get the AAU perspective out there, which is why I linked to your blog. Very glad a site like this exists for AAU. Not all college teams are followed as passionately. Good luck this weekend. Hopefully the hometown boy Murray will perform better than last year.

Alaskana said...

Anon @ 3:09: Why is it foolish to think that UAA can't win one or both games this weekend? Given their track record so far this year (and also that it's a home game), I think it is very reasonable to think that we'll come away successful this weekend. Just my opinion, of course.

Post a Comment