The Wolverines defeated RIT to salvage a split on the weekend series. Quotes from the post-game presser are below, followed by a few of my pertinent thoughts on tonight’s game:
Berenson on finishing RIT off in the 3rd after they had the lead…”I felt much better after our effort in the 3rd. RIT didn’t quit last night, and they didn’t quit tonight. We were solid, no giveaways, no breakdowns, we just did what we had to do. No one should come into Yost and beat us here, especially not the first game of the season. But give them credit, they fought hard.”
On the performance of the PP…“It’s looking better this year, because we have guys who have been on it before: Moffatt, AJ, Bennett, Guptill. We’ll get Boo more time on it, because he’s shown the potential for great things. Trouba’s another guy who can certainly man the point.”
On the status of Kevin Clare, who went down hard…”I haven’t heard anything from the doctors yet, not sure what the injury is, we’ll know more soon, hopefully.” It looked like he was holding his right arm, not sure.
AJ on what the team’s reaction was when RIT got their second goal, same as last night…”Nothing had to be said in the locker room, everyone knew what happened last night, no one dropped their heads on the bench.”
AJ on running the point on the PP…”I love it. When you’re a kid, you always want to be that guy running the point, like Nick Lidstrom. Now that I have that chance, it’s great. Playing with a young guy like Boo, it makes it real easy.”
Moffie on 7 players recording goals tonight…”It’s huge. It shows what kind of talent and skill we have on this team, and we have a lot of it. Everyone contributing takes a lot of pressure off, no one guy feels like he has to do everything out there.”
- The whole flow of the game tonight was drastically different than the end of last night’s loss. The Wolverines skated hard, and completely dominated the first half of the game, firing shots from all angles on the ice. Michigan ended up with 50 shots in the game, a majority of them of the “sick-pass–oh-how-did-that-not-go-in” variety. Only hanging 7 on RIT was gracious.
- With Merrill out, Red gave Clare the honor of playing on the top pairing with Trouba; Clare has a lot of work to do to upgrade from “awful” to “decent.” Yes, it’s hard to look any kind of good when Jacob Trouba is your partner, but Clare was frequently out of position, last night and tonight. He turned pucks over, misplayed passes, and was generally a risk out there. Which one of these guys is the freshman, and which is the upperclassman? To be fair, Trouba jumped into the play one too many times, but he was responsible defensively. I may or may not have felt the breeze from his shot up here in the press box.
- Steve Racine and Jared Rutledge are two different goalies, and I have to tag Racine as the starter after tonight, but it’s WAY too early to tell. Yes, they’re both freshmen, but as Red alluded to in the presser, Steve’s got the edge in experience. I would tend to agree. He didn’t wow me, but I would use the word “comfortable” to describe his play. Pucks were calmly smothered, or knocked away with the blocker. He was consistently on top of the paint, and the RIT forwards didn’t have much to look at. On the other hand, Rutledge appeared downright frazzled at his first career start last night; as the old truism goes, “he was fighting it”. He misplayed pucks and didn’t hug his post, whereas Racine looked like a veteran in net. Steve can also play the puck to clear the zone; something Rutledge clearly does NOT have in his repertoire.
- The chemistry on the first line is undeniable, particularly with A.J. and Di Giuseppe. All night they were a two-tandem terror giving the Tigers fits. A.J. was all over the ice, he was on top of the RIT defense seemingly at will, punishing their backstop with a barrage of pucks. His goal was a thing of beauty: PDG corralled the puck, and found AJ wide-open in the slot, who hammered it home, going down on one knee Brett-Hull style for added effect. PDG’s goal was similar earllier in the game: the Captain found his linemate hovering between the circles, the Maple native zinged a wicked wrister top shelf. Not to be outdone, Moffatt had an assist, and really seemed to be the stabilizing force on that line, letting the other two do their thing. What we’re seeing from Luke are flashes of what he displayed before arriving on campus, and he’s finally adjusted it to the college level: the ability to find his way through traffic and get to the net. He split two defenders in his lone SOG. For the record: AJ finished with 9 SOG, and PDG had 5. I’m salivating over here about what this line can accomplish, but let’s temper expectations–it’s early, and we haven’t hit conference play yet.
- Boo was given the opportunity to move up to the 2nd line tonight with Hyman out, and he didn’t disappoint. He collected two helpers, and finished with a +1. What stood out for me? Speed. He has it, and lots of it. The freshman might not have Hagelin-esque speed, but it’s definitely there in good supply. Up and down the ice all night, disrupting passes from RIT players, and finding his teammates. Humble, and not arrogant or garish about his draft selection. I feel like we’re all going to love this kid, and what he’s going to bring to Michigan.