Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's Wrong with Michigan?

Last season, the University of Michigan was an overtime goal away from its 10th national hockey championship, and first since 1998. This fall, the Wolverines started off with four consecutive victories, including a 10-3 pasting of visiting St. Lawrence, and by Halloween they were ranked third in the nation.

Fast forward four weeks—and not only is Michigan barely ranked in the top 20 teams in NCAA Division I, but has lost four straight games and is just 7-7-2 overall.

The Wolverines suffered their first setback of the season with a 5-3 loss at Northern Michigan on Oct. 21, but rebounded the next weekend to sweep CCHA front-runner Ferris State. Then the bottom fell out for the Maize and Blue.

Following a split with Western Michigan in early November, the Wolverines have gone winless in six straight games, including a current streak of four consecutive losses. They haven't won a game since Nov. 5, and even suffered an ignominious home sweep to Ohio State.

This past weekend, Michigan suffered back-to-back home losses to a pair of Eastern squads from Northeastern (4-1) and Union (6-3). This upcoming weekend, the Wolverines will trek almost 3,700 miles one-way to the 49th State, to face-off with CCHA foe Alaska Fairbanks for two key conference games.

If there's a finger to point collectively, it could very well be at U-M's special teams units. The power play has converted just 12-of-66 opportunities (18.2 percent), putting it 29th in the nation. The penalty killing has been even worse, stopping just 61-of-76 attempts (80.3 percent) to rank 35th in Division I.

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