If you did, that’s okay. I did, too. No matter. You’re implored by me to remember pretty quickly. Weekend’s like this have become the norm at Michigan over the last 20-plus years, and for a team who’s confounded us week after week, breaking away from what’s expected may just be what they need.
If you listen real closely, you can hear the last strains of “The Victors” floating up from the locker room in what must be a very jubilant scene.
No presser or quotes for me tonight. I have to make the drive back to Ann Arbor to watch some kind of important game tonight.
Luke Moffatt opened the scoring on the power play courtesy of some tough man’s work from Phil Di Giuseppe. PDG swiped the puck, threw one on net, and Moffatt jammed at it multiple times to force it behind Hildebrand. Luke finished the game with a goal, assist, and 4 SOG.
The first period continued to be dominated by Michigan, as the Wolverines put their stamp on a game that you could tell was not going to be lost from the start, no matter how much they’ve fallend asleep at the wheel this season. Hildebrand was overwhelmed with a flurry of chances from both Moffatt and PDG, as they swarmed around the Spartan net on their respective lines. It looked, at times, as though MSU couldn’t even make a simple clear as Michigan asserted itself offensively. I don’t think I’m being facetious by declaring it was Michigan’s best of the season. Hildebrand prevented an even larger deficit for his team.
In the 2nd period, both teams would trade a pair of goals, but the lead remained Michigan’s by 2 after 2. Play consisted mostly of back-and-forth stuff of a neutral zone variety, and the whistles kept blowing to slow down what was an otherwise fast hockey game.
In the 3rd, the Wolverines kept enforcing their will on the Spartans, and Boo gets credited with a goal off a stranger centering feed that was redirected into the MSU goal. I’m not going to focus on Boo too much in the player bullets, but I want to state that he was Michigan’s best player over the entire weekend. The speedy center with the soft hands scored 2 in the third of last night’s win, and a goal and an assist tonight. He’s the proverbial centerman: dishing out dimes, as they say in basketball, to PDG, who’s giving back as well as he’s receiving passes. The two really seem to enjoy handling and passing the puck to one another; it’s a line that could flourish for a very long time, Kevin Lynch’s grit included.
Has Jared Rutledge staked his claim to the starter’s spot now into February? He’s looking as calm handling the puck as I’ve ever seen him, is not giving up bad rebounds, and allowing his defensemen to clear up any mess in front of him without leaving the safety of his net. Everything is coming easy, and he’s not jeopardizing leads by misplaying pucks, getting on his post, and performing as simply as possible. Stability is all that’s asked in the Michigan net at the moment; you don’t need to be the second coming of Turco.
- I know you’ll be getting on me for finding something to complain about after our first sweep of the season, but I’m going to. The defense is still not cancelling out opposing forwards in tight or one-on-one situations, and it needs to be rectified. MSU’s first goal occurred when Lee Moffie allowed a skater to sneak in around him at the blue line, and tucks it underneath Jared. Moffie’s gambled too much, and has tried to make too many plays on the puck when delivering the body would be much more beneficial to Michigan. Later on, Greg Wolfe rings a shot off the high crossbar, and his chance came as a result of Moffie’s flat-footed error. You cannot, I repeat, cannot get caught standing up in your own zone with a forward bearing in on you. Wolfe had all kinds of time to unleash that howitzer, and Moffie’s guilty again. As a senior, this should be second nature to you. Clear regression this season.
- Phil Di Giuseppe is an assist wizard. After notching a playmaker in last night’s win, the Ontario product is showing what he can do when paired with another player beautiful hands. Phil followed up last night’s performance with 2 dimes tonight. As mentioned above, he puts his line in position to make things happen after keeping the puck in, getting it on net, and eventually Moffatt is there to bang in the rebound in the 1st period. He moves in and out of tight quarters, appears then re-appears, and dekes in tight like Kolarik or Tambellini used to do. 9 SOG. At one point, he lugged the puck coast-to-coast Gretzky-style, and almost tapped in undernearth Hildebrand, but just couldn’t quite finish. Phil and Boo are a joy to watch together.
- Keep feeding THE DEBLOIS. I find myself wondering where performances like these have been all season. Seriously, where? Hidden behind our purview on the purgatory of the 4th line, a healthy scratch, whathaveyou. I’m just very proud of his effort, in all phases of the hockey game. The penalty killers get rewarded in the 1st period: Derek picked up the puck near the MSU blue line, crades it on the end of his stick, and then zooms a frozen rope just under the bar, obliterating Hildebrand’s water bottle and maybe his confidence after that. Water bottle popper. You don’t see many of them anymore. I just like saying it. WATER BOTTLE POPPER. YEEEEEES. PK unit consistently pressured their point men, then capitalized on a loose puck. More, please. He later added his second of the game while going hard to the net after Hildebrand stopped a fluttering slaptshot. I kept thinking to myself, “We’re going a lot harder to the net to look for rebounds.” And would you look at that, it paid off. More importantly, his 2nd came after MSU had drawn within one. Such fantastic timing. Every shift he was out there, he went to the net, put on the body, intercepted an MSU pass, made his presence felt the entire game and would not let up. I hope it rubs off on Guppy, and the rest of the team, incidentally.
Let’s all sit back and enjoy a sweep. Feels damn good.
Go Blue, Beat the Hoosiers,