The Michigan hockey team certainly didn’t have too much to complain about after it took five of six possible points against No. 12 Wisconsin last weekend. But the series marked the continuation of a troublesome trend.
The Wolverines haven’t scored a power-play goal since the first period of a game against the Badgers on Jan. 11. Since that tally, a shot by sophomore forward Andrew Copp that took a sudden deflection off of senior forward Luke Moffatt, Michigan has gone 0-for-18 with the man advantage.
And it’s gotten exasperating.
“The most frustrating thing is just seeing that power-play percentage number just go down and down,” Moffatt said Tuesday.
The recent cold streak has dropped that number to just 17.24 percent, which has shaken the team’s confidence. The Wolverines could reach five full games without a power-play goal if the special teams doesn’t find twine this weekend against Penn State.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “It’s a little bit of our confidence, our execution and guys trying to do too much.”
Though senior defenseman Mac Bennett has proven himself as a legitimate threat on the man advantage, Berenson acknowledged that the Wolverines are missing a player like former defenseman Jacob Trouba, whose blazing slap shot helped him tally seven goals last year. Since opposing penalty-kill units don’t have to account for such a vicious shot, they can collapse into the crease.
“We’re constantly changing stuff up with the power play,” Moffatt said. “It’s so much fine tuning, you can change one small thing and suddenly everything works.”
Saturday, Michigan’s power play looked deadly, even if just for one of its six opportunities. On its first man advantage of the night, it ripped five shots and kept the puck in Wisconsin’s zone. But the Wolverines came up empty-handed on their next five power plays, too, and managed just nine total shots.
“If you have a good power play, you’re going to score one out of five times,” Berenson said. “That means you’ve failed four out of five times, but you’re supposed to feel good about it. … It’s hard to build confidence when you’re losing four times and you win once.”
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK: Freshman defenseman Kevin Lohan will have to wait even longer until he plays again.
Though he told the Daily on Jan. 15 that he was nearly practicing at full speed and would have dressed that weekend if permitted, Lohan remains sidelined with a torn lateral meniscus he suffered Nov. 1. Berenson said Tuesday that the defenseman is not cleared to play this weekend, and his status won’t change before next weekend’s series against No. 1 Minnesota.
“He’s not quite cleared,” the veteran coach said. “They expect to clear him, but it won’t be this week and it won’t be next week.”
Berenson added that Lohan “is on a good path” in his road to recovery.
In November, two days after Lohan’s injury, Berenson said that the freshman would be out at least three months, making early February the best-case scenario for his return.
ONE AWAY: Given Penn State’s perfectly futile 0-8 record in Big Ten play this year, Berenson might expect to pick up his 784th victory this weekend, which would move him into sole possession of fourth place all-time in the NCAA’s wins category for coaches.
But Berenson isn’t taking any credit.
“That means I’ve been around for a long time, and I’ve had good teams, and I’m at the right place,” he said after the Wolverines beat Wisconsin on Friday.