I've been thinking a bit about how big a factor things like motivation and confidence actually play in sports. We've all seen a sports documentary or two with the great insightful scenes where a group of athletes transition from showing limited confidence to a belief that they can't be defeated. There are subtle signs that this years Seawolves seem to have made some measure of this sort of positive transition.
If they can tap into that ... as well as ensure that (in all aspects of the game) they play soundly this weekend then I believe they can beat Wisconsin both nights. As fans we tend to look at the weekend as "the weekend". But here's what I think right now. It's all about Friday. Fuck Saturday and fuck "the weekend" for right now. Friday is where it's at.
Can Wisconsin be beaten on Friday night at the Sullivan Arena becomes the question. And it's only answer is a resounding yes. Of course they can. We've seen our guys not only play competitively so far this year but also exceptionally well for long stretches of time including dominating play against every opponent. We've seen our team get officiated out of a couple chances to win. There is no doubt we can say they're better than their record. I thought maybe that went without saying at this point but decided to include it.
All the lines have been rolling. So much so that I opted out of my usual habit of mentioning the guys names on the past weekend who's performances stood out to me. I just didn't want to write a paragraph about every player. But anyway, every line is creating chances for themselves. Defensively the whole team is playing responsibly in their own end. Blueliners are transitioning the puck well with both passing and carrying. Mistakes are few and far between but when they've happened the guys got over it quickly and shown great resilience in coming back.
Both Chris Kamal and Rob Gunderson look like they're playing with confidence and in large part that's due to the play in front of them. The penalty kill percentage unfortunately doesn't measure some of the good PK play we've seen. The rate of taking penalties is nothing less than dramatically changed from past seasons. And having to kill less leaves more energy in the legs for those fewer times that have to be defended. Eqally noteworthy is that the important 5-on-5 play has been a positive for the team overall as well.
So am I saying the Seawolves are pretty much firing on all cylinders? It smells like that to me. We'll get a partial answer on Friday night.
The above represents an attempt to be less verbose about all these things. I'm trying to say more by saying less. So that's pretty much all I have to say about this weekend with the following exception.
As of today: Wisconsin = 8 points and UAA = 7 points.