If the Wolverines are looking for reasons for their lost weekend, they will probably start with the play of their special teams, especially their power play.
Heading into the weekend, Michigan ranked first in the nation on the power play, converting 29.5 percent of its chances. But against Minnesota and Wisconsin, the Wolverines failed to convert when they had the advantage, going 2-for-17 on the weekend.
Trailing 1-0 early in the second period of Saturday night’s game, Michigan had a power play and a chance to even the score with Wisconsin. But the Wolverines had trouble setting up quality scoring chances and didn’t score.
When trailing 2-1, Michigan missed a chance to tie the game a man up midway through the second period, but the most disappointing power play came midway through the third period. With the game knotted at two, Michigan had a chance to take their first lead of the game, but the Wolverines again looked unorganized on the power play and again came up empty handed.
After predominantly relying on the man advantage to provide offense though the first 11 games of the season, Michigan found out how much it will struggle this season when the power play isn’t clicking.
“I think that’s one of our problems right now – we are too dependent on the power play,” Michigan captain Andrew Ebbett said. “This is Michigan hockey. We should be all over teams when we get the opportunity to play five-on-five. We can’t depend on the power play every weekend.”
Michigan went 1-for-6 on the power play Saturday night and 1-for-11 on Friday night. Despite Michigan’s poor performance, the Wolverines managed to extend their power-play goal streak to 13 games by converting on one extra-man advantage in each game.
No. 1 Blues: Michigan’s 6-3 loss to No. 7 Minnesota on Friday continued a disturbing trend. The Wolverines are now winless (0-5-1) in their last six games immediately after receiving the nation’s top ranking.
During the 2000-01 season, Michigan fell at home to No. 6 Michigan State, 1-0. Last year, the Wolverines started the season atop the polls before dropping their season opener at home to Northeastern, 4-2.
Michigan regained the No.1 ranking before the 2004 College Hockey Showcase, but a 5-1 loss at No. 3 Minnesota took it off the top spot for the rest of the season. Continuing the trend, Michigan skated to a 3-3 tie with Michigan State and then fell on the road the following weekend to Alaska-Fairbanks, 4-2, knocking the Wolverines off the top slot earlier this season.
Who’s in net?: After freshman Billy Sauer allowed six goals in the loss to Minnesota on Friday, Michigan coach Red Berenson made a change in net. Senior Noah Ruden started Saturday night against Wisconsin. He played a solid game, stopping 24 of 27 shots on net, but it wasn’t enough to get Michigan a win. Sauer has a 6-2-1 record with a 2.83 goals against average in nine games this season. Ruden has played in five games this year and is 3-1 with a 2.45 goals against average.
Caged Dog: Michigan senior alternate-captain Brandon Kaleniecki, who is often described as a bulldog on the ice, had his 108 consecutive games-played streak snapped on Saturday when he was scratched from the lineup due to a wrist injury he suffered against Minnesota. The streak dates back to Kaleniecki’s freshman year when he was scratched from a Feb 22. 2003 matchup against Nebraska-Omaha due to an injury.
Getting on the board: Michigan freshman Tim Miller scored his first goal of the season in Saturday night’s loss to Wisconsin. Miller took a pass from Tyler Swystun and skated around the net for a wrap-around shot that beat Badger goalie Brian Elliott to cut Wisconsin’s lead to 2-1.