Thursday, March 11, 2010

You want answers: Where's the excitement?

Not much participation this time. So if you have any more questions, ask away. One note: The Mavericks are heading to St. Cloud today and will practice at the National Hockey Center this evening. I'll be going up on Friday.

From Ian: Goaltender for this series, Cook? I say ride the hot hand and Cook hasn't been too bad this year. ... Do you sense the seniors are going to step it up a notch knowing this is their last shot at getting to the Final Five? ... Only nine penalties this past weekend, what gives? We usually have that many by the midway point of the third period on a Friday night.

Ian, yes, Cook will go and for the very reason you cited. He's the hot goalie right now. He's playing well. I'll be curious to see what happens if the series goes three games. Would they put Cook out there three games in a row? I think a lot of coaches in the league ponder that question. That's one reason why Austin Lee started one of the games against Denver. But I like the way Cook's playing. Except for the first goal on Saturday night, he was brilliant against St. Cloud. He preserved the tie with a highlight save in OT.

Of course, the seniors know the stakes. They want to get to the X. They know that the Mavericks haven't been to the Final Five since '03. So it's not just about them, it's about the program. With the exception of both assists on Evan Mosey's power play goal on Saturday, seniors did not factor into MSU's scoring last week. But they played sound defensive hockey and killed penalties and logged plenty of ice time over the last 25 minutes. They'll have to be a factor in some form or another again.

When it comes to penalties, that's the way the Mavericks have to play. St. Cloud had four power plays each night last week, and MSU was able to kill all of them, including one in OT on Saturday. It's interesting when you look at the the stats. The Mavs rank fourth in the WCHA in PIMs this season with 18.1 per game (Anchorage is first at 21.2, followed by UND at 19.3 and Wisco at 18.3) and they're fifth in the league with 18.2 per game in conference play. They were first last year at 20.2, fifth at 15.6 before that and were as high as 23.1 (!) in 06-07. However, no WCHA team has had to kill more penalties this season than the Mavs, who have faced 206 power plays (they're fourth in the league with an 82 percent kill rate). By the way, the Mavericks have had 192 power plays.

From BIGhkyfan: What are your three keys to the game Friday? ... Watching practice thee other day, it appears that the freshmen/sophomores are stepping it up in the drills. ... Do you think Mosey will stay on the PP or even move up? Get more ice after his goal Saturday; he did not see ice the third or OT? Dog house for? This kid takes the body well and can skate. ... Are Cooper and Canz battling for the sixth D spot? ... Any Mavs fan busses making the trip up north?

BIG, my keys to Friday's game are pretty simple: 1. They basically have to do what they did last weekend -- play fast and physical but smart (read: stay out of the box). 2. They need Phil Cook to play like played last weekend and continue to get good team defense in front of him. 3. They need finishers.

I think most of the freshmen and sophomores have been good all season. Pitlick, Hayes and Elbrecht have become regular players, as has Dorr (not a frosh but a new guy). Mosey has worked his way up. For the sophs, Louwerse has had a good last month or so and Schiller has found a spot back up front. Cooper has mixed in with the D. They're still waiting for Mueller, Jokinen and Thompson to make an impact.

I thought Mosey had a good weekend against the Huskies. Scoring the goal was big and he can do some things on the PP. There has been a lot of discussion about him on the blog this year. I think he's going to be a good player but it's taken some time. That's not an indictment on his play or his skills. He's a puck-moving D with some physical tools and he can skate. But he wasn't going to take time away from Davis and Youds. You can't compare him to Boe or Elbrecht, either, because they're the team's main defensive defensemen. I'm not aware of Mosey being in the dog house late in Saturday's game (In fact, I didn't notice the lack of ice time; I wish college hockey kept track of minutes played like the NHL does.). Jutting puts a lot of stock in his veterans, and they're the guys who are going to get more ice time in those close-game situations.

Someone mentioned a fan bus to me in passing, but I don't know of any details. I posted some ticket information for the games in a post belo Nw.

From alex: Do you think the PhD line will be the key line in the series against the Huskies? I think Pitlick has been coming on strong of late with all the pressure on him. ... Who will be the starting goalies and will Raboin be playing for the Huskies? ... Do you know who isn't making the lineup for the series?

Alex, the Mavericks need to have guys finish this weekend, whether it's the Pitlick-Hayes-Dorr line or the Stewart-Mouillierat-Irwin line or the Harrison-Galiardi-Louwerse line or the fourth liners or the D. It doesn't really matter. The PhD line (I love that the nickname has stuck, by the way, at least on this blog) has the talent to create and score goals. We'll see how their youth affects them in a playoff situation. If there's pressure on Pitlick, he sure doesn't show it. I'm sure he knows arenas are crawling with NHL scouts who are working on their draft boards but he just plays the game. He's a fun player to watch and the sky's the limit for him.

Cook will start for MSU. St. Cloud appears to be going with Dan Dunn, who was back in goal last Saturday after getting the hook on Friday. The Huskies might be sticking with a rotation with Mike Lee, too. The word last week was that Raboin would be back for the playoffs. I haven't heard differently so far this week. St. Cloud will also get Aaron Marvin back from suspension on Saturday.

The Mavericks will put the same lineup out on Friday night. The extras on the trip appear to be Eli Zuck at forward and Cameron Cooper at defense.

1 comment:

hockeyfan said...

I am not that concerned about the freshmen. The advantage is that I think all but Pitlick are 20 and 21. This is huge. They have been around the block and have plenty of playoff experience in Jr's. It's a big advantage over them all being right out of high school.