Getting an early start on this today because I'll be headed to Roseville later to cover the Mankato West girls soccer team in the state tournament before shoving off to Denver on Friday morning. Without further ado, let's get to your questions ...
From Nation: Good to see Jutting sit some players that were not performing. .. What is the team that is going to Denver looking like with Irwin out? ... Starting goalie for Friday's game?
The more I think about it, I think Saturday's lineup change wasn't just about benching non-performing players (although Jutting did do that), as much as it was about putting in the seniors and issuing a challenge to them. He could have just as easily benched the senior leaders, in my opinion. Also, Ben Youds told me yesterday that Saturday morning's skate was a full-gear, full-contact hitting practice. Message sent and received. ... The lines are shuffled up a bit. I'll have them on the blog on Friday. ... As of Wednesday, Jutting wasn't ready to announce a starter in goal. Lee and Murdock are on the trip. I assume both will play, but in what order?
From Sam: Any chance we'll see Harrison on the power play?
Anything's possible, but he's such an important defensive forward and penalty killer that the power play is good time to give him some rest. They had to mix up the PP quite a bit last Saturday because of Irwin's injury and and other players not available because they were in the penalty box or in street clothes.
From Sam and LetsGoMavs and Jeff: I won't rewrite those long questions here, but they both had to do with the music played at the civic center. My thoughts ...
First of all, I love the "Ole" song. I think it's unique to the WCHA and has become MSU's song. Many an out-of-town writer mention it before and after a series. So go ahead and play it and play it loud after every goal. As for the other music, I'm old school, and I don't necessarily think that louder music during breaks pumps up the fans. In fact, I think it does the opposite. With some exceptions, it often drowns out the effort fans make to get into the game. I love good pep bands -- UM, UW and Michigan Tech have them -- but they have to be big and loud and into the game. But without that, I think the piped-in music needs to be, more than anything fun -- something that makes students and other fans get up and dance and sing and get into the game that way. Finally, Jeff, I think it would have been embarrassing for the "Ole" song to have been played before Saturday's game. The Mavericks didn't even score on Friday.
From LetsGoMavs: Has Jutting ever indicated why he's not playing Gaulrapp. That kid always plays with passion and gives 100 percent on the ice and I think he's underrated. Maks me wonder why Jutting has been sitting him, unless he get to play the role of the upperclassman that Jutting likes to make sit just for fun a la Tyree.
First of all Gaulrapp played very well last Saturday and will be in the lineup on Friday in Denver. I've always liked the spark and energy he seems to bring when he plays. As Jutting told me, he's a smart hockey player, too. Secondly, I think it comes down competition in practice. It's tight right now. There isn't a lot separating players, so I think the coaches have tough decisions every week. I'm not sure I can look through the lineup on a Friday night and say James Gaulrapp should be ahead of those who are playing. But if he were in, I'd probably say the same thing about that night's scratches. But he's in the lineup now and he has a chance to play well and keep his spot. What's interesting about Gaulrapp is, he played at Owatonna high school and then junior hockey there. I don't think he was brought to Mankato to be a top-line, everyday player. Yet, he's played in 81 games and has 23 career points. That's not bad. As to your final point, Jutting doesn't just sit guys for fun. Tyree? Really? Sorry, unlike Gaulrapp, I don't think you could have made a case for putting him ahead of many players that season.
From Joe: What's going on with Kael Mouillierat? He's scored one point in six games. Are teams gearing on him more? What are your thoughts on Justin Jokinen and Andy Sackrison's season so far? Is Tyler Pitlick going to be back in the lineup for the Denver series?
Yes, I think teams are more aware of Mouillierat than in the past. I'm stunned by his early lack of production. He is getting chances, though, and had some good ones on the power play last weekend. I'm not sure this will be the breakout weekend for him (on the road, at the No. 2-ranked team in the country, in a small rink), but, if it is, it certainly bodes well for MSU. As for Jokinen and Sackrison, both have shown flashes of brilliance this season, but it hasn't been real consistent and it certainly hasn't translated into a lot of goals. I believe Sackrison leads the Mavericks in shots on goal (forgive me; I'm doing this from home and don't have my notes in front of me) but has just one goal. Jokinen has one goal. They're going to need those guys to chip in more. Finally, Tyler Pitlick will be in the lineup on Friday.
From Nation: When is Mike Dorr eligible to play? Which series?
The way I understand it, he's becomes eligible when the first academic semester actually comes to an end. That is Friday, Dec. 11. Dorr told me he could then play that night at Bemidji State. I'll have to check with the coaches to make sure of that, but I would guess if you don't see him on the ice then, you'll see him somewhere in that six-game nonconference stretch in December and early January.
From Richard: Can you interview players or do a live blog interview like you do with the games during the week? ... Could a podcast be made of the Wednesday Troy Jutting show by the radio guys?
I'm always looking for ways to spice up the coverage and will consider that, maybe before a big series. As for the podcast, you'd have to check with the radio guys, but I think that's a pretty good idea. I'd certainly link to it.
From Purgolder: Will we see more of Cameron Cooper? He was outstanding in the Lethbridge game on the PP, PK etc. Enjoyed watching him become a solid D-man last year for the Mavs. He has more experience than some others seeing lots of ice this year so far.
Cooper is penciled in to be in the lineup on Friday. I never put too much stock into how guys play in exhibition games, but, yes, he did play well that night. I have been told over and over again that the coaching staff really likes all eight defensemen that they have and would be comfortable putting any of them in the lineup. It's not just about experience, though. Like I wrote about Gaulrapp earlier, about competition and practice. People with a lot more hockey smarts than I evaluate these guys every day and move them up and down the ladder. Right now, Cooper's in the lineup, but he (and others) will have to perform and not make crucial mistakes to stay there because Joe Schiller (who's on the trip) and Evan Mosey (not on the trip) are champing at the bit to get back. Theoretically, that should make everybody better.
From Zeb: Will Geoff Irwin be making the trip to Denver with the team?
No. The travel party is limited to 22 players and you dress 20. The two extras have to be healthy and ready to play Saturday if necessary. If the games were in St. Cloud or Minnesota, perhaps he'd make the bus trip, but he's not flying to Denver.
From Brian: Does Jutting have the team working extra on the power play in practice this week? The PP looked disorganized on Saturday, especially during the almost 10 minutes of PP during the back-to-back majors. ... Also what are your thoughts once Irwin and Wiley are back rom injury, putting them on a line back with Sackrison? They seemed to play pretty well as linemates two years ago.
The Mavericks spend a lot of time working on the power play in practice. Usually, the second half of Wednesday's practice is devoted to special teams, as is most of Thursday's practice. It's strange that they've had such a hard time getting it going this year. The No. 1 unit has just one change -- Tyler Pitlick for Mick Berge -- but it just looks discombobulated during games. As for the major penalties, there were a lot of different guys out there for the PP. Irwin was injured, Davis and Pitlick were scratches. When it started, Louwerse and Canzanello were in the penalty box.
Thanks for all of your questions. Be sure to check out the blog all weekend while I'm in Denver.