Excluding empty-net goals, in four of six CCHA losses this season the Wolverines have gone down to defeat by a goal. In those games, one set of numbers stands out 1-for-24.
No, that”s not a Shaquille O”Neal free throw stat.
It”s the Wolverines” conversions versus attempts on the power play in those four conference one-goal losses.
One for 24.
“Certainly, our special teams have to play better,” coach Red Berenson said after Northern Michigan (aided by an empty-netter) beat Michigan 2-0 Saturday night.
Had the Wolverines converted on two or even one of the 23 failed power-play attempts, they would likely find themselves only three or four points back of the Michigan State.
Now five points back of the CCHA-leading Spartans, the thought dogging the Michigan hockey team revolves around not what could be, but what might have been.
Explanations for a poor performance by the Wolverines against a lesser team are seldom easy, but this latest loss serves further indication that the power-play inconsistency is one explanation.
Michigan went 1-for-12 on the power play for the weekend, including 0-for-5 in Saturday”s shutout.
With five games remaining, including two head-to-head matches with Michigan State, Michigan wouldn”t have fumbled away its destiny with Saturday”s loss if its power play had played up to its potential in those four close conference losses.
The Wildcats, seventh in penalty killing in the CCHA, have played well in recent weeks according to coach Rick Comley but against Michigan, the penalty killing unit looked like something out of a SWAT team instructional video.
Northern pressured the puck and challenged Michigan to take the shot. Meanwhile, the Wolverines looked as if they were puckhandling on cobblestone before they could get control of a rather lively puck, the Wildcats would fire it back down the ice.
“They didn”t get a whole lot of scoring chances,” Comley said. “They like to move it and thread it backdoor (to the side of the net). “We kind of took those lanes away from them and they didn”t want to shoot it too much.”
Michigan leads the CCHA in the power play with a 21.3 percent clip and the team still scores two-thirds of its goals in even-strength situations.
But the numbers also tell a different tale.
When the Wolverines win, they convert their extra-man opportunities one out of every four times. In defeat, Michigan averages a goal in one of ten power-play opportunities.
“There”s no reason to worry,” center Mike Cammalleri said. “The coaching staff will put something together that will work for the future, and I know we”ll be working on it for next week.”
Kosick Passes Berenson: Senior center Mark Kosick passed a hockey legend on Michigan”s all-time scoring list Friday night his coach.
Kosick notched his 138th point with a goal, surpassing Berenson who played three seasons for Michigan (1960-62). Kosick has 55 goals to go with 83 assists good for 40th on the Michigan all-time scoring list.
Ortmeyer Surgery: Speculation on whether Jed Ortmeyer will undergo season-ending surgery ended Friday night when the team announced that the sophomore forward will go under the knife Thursday to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Ortmeyer suffered the injury 2 1/2 weeks ago against Notre Dame.
Ortmeyer weighed the effects of playing on the injured knee before the decision to end his season was made.