How are we tonight? I hope good, because that’s how I’m feeling at the moment. Let’s not put AJ on Hobey Watch just yet, however, as tantalizing as that might be.
Postgame comments from Red, the Captain, and Chiasson after the jump.
Red on AJ’s feisty play… “He’s as mild-mannered a kid off the ice as you could want. Very quiet and soft-spoken. I don’t know what the change is, but when he gets a stick in his hands and he gets out on the ice, he’s a different person. That’s what we need.”
On the chippiness of tonight’s game…“This has been built into quite the rivalry. You have to expect that between these two teams. The 2nd period was their period, but we took control going into the 3rd. The physical play went up a level in the 3rd period, but we didn’t let it affect our game.
AJ on his two goals…“This was a hard-fought game. I’ve come to expect that everytime we play them, but we have a lot of younger players on this team who haven’t, and it’s my job as the Captain to make sure they know that Michigan expects to win in this rivalry. I think they know, now. My first goal came off that one-timer on the PP. I just tried to put as much behind it as I could, and it got through.”
Chiasson on his 1st of the season…”First off, I just want to credit Guppy with that pass. He was all over the ice tonight. We kept the puck in, I pinched and got behind their D, and I saw he was going to make a play. He got just enough to poke it past the defender, and I saw their goaltender was maybe to his blocker side a little too much, so I tried to poke it up over his glove, and luckily enough, I did.”
- I think it’s only fair I start tonight with gigantic praises for Steven Racine, who, notwithstanding the one bad giveaway, absolutely slammed the door on the Redhawks tonight. Wristers from the slot, slapshots from the point, and bailing out the error-prone corps of Michigan defensemen–the young netminder turned in a sparkling performance for the Maize and Blue. Mobile, agile, and, for the most part, always in the right position, Racine stopped all manner of pucks tonight. His glovehand was on target, and he likes to make saves with his pad. Everything is being directed towards the corner right now, and he’s not kicking out juicy rebounds into the slot. I’m very glad the rebound control is improving. Racine sprawled in his crease, did the splits, got his glove to deflect a shot just enough, and about any other acrobatic superlative you could want. #1 star of this game, and I know AJ potted 2 in the game. It looks as though Red’s giving Rutledge the start tomorrow, but it’s Steve’s job to lose.
- The players keep saying that defensive zone coverage is going to improve, but talk is cheap. I’ll only believe it once I see words translate into actions. The breakdowns so far have been mind-boggling and eye-averting. We’re much too quick to make the blind pass, or for a defenseman to expect his partner to be there when he isn’t. Moffie, in particular, was not aware of his surroundings, and chucked a pass onto a Miami stick, or allowed his pocket to be summarily picked by the opportunistic Miami forward. This may seem like old hat, but it’s common sense in hockey: talk to your partner, make eye contact, have awareness, etc. I counted, at minimum, about 3 incredibly dangerous 2-on-1’s given up, where Racine was left to make a tough save. That’s not the way for us to help out our freshman goaltender, guys. On the bright side, Chiasson and Bennett were the stalwarts for Michigan tonight. And no, I don’t have a Merrill update for you. Wish I did, though. Arrrggghhh.
- What else can we write about AJ Treais and his play in this very young campaign as we move forward? To be honest: not much that you’re not already keenly aware of. Miami took it to Michigan in the 1st period, but our first two goals (both AJ’s), gave us the kickstart we needed. Miami still controlled play territorially early in the 2nd, but Michigan would soon grab hold of the game. Our Captain is a bona-fide superstar, and his stock is rising. Both goals came off of hard shots, and both demonstrated his poise, his patience, and his leadership. Leading by example, communicating on the PP, this is the kind of play that can define you. Skating hard, getting his shot away quicker, and doing it all with a smile on his face. Took it upon himself to lead Michigan, and that’s exactly what I want to see from a captain. 2G, +1, O penalties, 6 SOG. Box score says it all.
- Guptill is quickly becoming a very reliable hockey player for us. Smart, elusive, willing to muck it up and go to the tough areas, he reminds me a lot of Chad Kolarik minus the speed and finishing ability. 1G, 1A, 5 SOG. When Nieves matures, this could be a very, very good 2nd line.
- Jacob Trouba was built for the Miami series. Physical, hard-nosed, nasty, the freshman threw his body around all night, and he seemed to enjoy playing in the game more and more as the night wore on. I simply cannot wait to see Jacob providing that dominant physical presence and booming slaptshot we’ve missed for a few years. 2A, +1, 2 PIM’s.
How about a sweep/football win in Lincoln/Tiger victory trifecta tomorrow night? Full slate tomorrow, you can’t ask for a more exciting weekend. As always, send me an e-mail: email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter: @chilesgoblue, and you can follow MHN via @MichiganHockey.
See you tomorrow!