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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Michigan 11, Chapman 8

Michigan faced their toughest test of the young season on Saturday night, facing a top-5 team in Chapman. This game also took place in "Chapman Stadium" which, believe it or not, is on the campus of said Opponent. So: Toughest opponent of the year, check. Toughest environment of the year, check. Hail to the Victors sung at end of game, check.

The game streamed on CollegeLax.tv, but I was getting about 2 frames per second at best, which is useless (I assume this was a traffic issue, because I watched most of the Michigan State v. Sonoma State game the next day, and a game with much less national interest streamed fine). In addition - and this is well beyond CollegeLax's control - the guy announcing the goals was far more interested in honing his awful radio voice than, you know, saying the score of the damn game.

Basically what I'm trying to get at here is that I didn't watch the game live. I got a chance to re-watch, and my comments are after the...

Tempo Free

From the Michigan recap, your tempo-free breakdown:

Chapman Michigan
Faceoff Wins 15 Faceoff Wins 8
Clearing 13-20 Clearing 18-19
Possessions 36 Possessions 34
Goals 8 Goals 11
Offensive Efficiency .222 Offensive Efficiency .324

Obvious things first: Michigan got destroyed(-ish) on faceoffs, winning barely more than a third of their draws. Chapman's faceoff specialists is purported to be one of the nation's best, so if this is how the Wolverines perform against the best, very few will give them such a tough time.

Brian Greiner (6/15) had considerably more success than Edward Ernst (2/8), confirming what I think we've already seen so far this year: Greiner is the starter on faceoffs. I think he also brings a little bit more to the table offensively on won faceoffs, as well.

So, Michigan gets killed on faceoffs, but doesn't have so many fewer possessions than Chapman? Chalk it up to the ride, which held Chapman to 65% success, while Michigan's clearing game was near-perfect on the day. Against a skilled team like Chapman, that's a definite win.

With approximately even total possessions, Chapman's 3 fewer goals is obviously going to mean their efficiency isn't very high. Someone who was in attendance told me that was mostly due to some poor decisions to shoot from the outside.


In case you haven't noticed by the fact that they're abusing some solid defensive teams (the Wolverines' best efficiency number against a top-25ish team last year was .404 against BYU in the tournament, but that's the only time they cracked .300), this is a very good offense. There's the obvious talent of players like Yealy, Carroll, and Paras, but also insane depth. Alex Vasileff stepped up and played really well against the Panthers - and a number of other players could do the same if called upon.

As for that depth, Ryan Dutton-O'Hara has been limited with injuries, but there has been very little dropoff. It sounds like the coaching staff is experimenting with some different lineup options to find the right one - and possibly make the offense even more potent on the whole.

The defense is verrrry solid. I wish other MCLA teams kept official-type stats with better regularity and consistency, so I had something to compare to. However, with people telling me "Chapman took bad shots," I'm willing to chalk at least some of that up to the Wolverine D being tough to figure out and/or just beat man-to-man.

Perhaps the biggest problem defensively was Chapman's success on faceoffs: The Panthers won a number cleanly, giving them a quick fast break. Once again, that's a bigger problem in the faceoff department than defensively.

From the sounds of things, Stone had a great first half. Fowler came in for the standard 3rd-quarter substitution, and didn't have quite the success, saving only 4 while letting in 6 goals (including a bad one or two). Since the keepers have been trading off with a better performance, I don't expect the rotation to end any time soon - and with a couple weaker opponents up next, don't be surprised if Cy Abdelnour gets some time between the pipes as well.

I was out of town all weekend, but I promise Detroit recaps are coming later this week as well.

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