Thursday, December 16, 2010

You Want Answers!?!?

There wasn't a lot of participation on the YWA!?!? But I'm not going to take it out on those who did ask questions. So let me get to those. If this post sparks more questions, I'll can answer those over the weekend.

From Jeff: Shane, Do you think that MSU has some kind of mental block against UND? The current streak against them is eerily reminiscent to the streak against the U of M. The Mavs always play them tough, but find a way to give up that one last goal to the Sioux or just miss the one crucial goal that would win the game. It's like watching a bad movie over and over again and not being able to turn the TV off.

Jeff, I don't know if I'd go so far to call it a mental block. The streak must be disconcerting, especially when seven of the Mavericks' last 10 losses to UND have been by one goal -- and I'm counting Sunday's game in that stat (the Sioux scored an empty-netter to make it 4-2). The Mavericks had chances to win both of those games. They were not blown out. They had many opportunities, including at least three so-called Grade A chances, to take a 3-1 lead in Friday's game. And Sunday, they barely gave themselves a chance to tie the game despite having 1:49 of 5x3 power-play time. I don't know if I'd compare it to a bad movie. Those were two pretty good hockey games over the weekend. Sometimes you just have to credit the winning team. North Dakota's the best team I've seen play this season.

From Sam: 1) Another poster said he saw Matt Leitner on the bench this past weekend. Any truth to that? Is that normal when you're academically ineligible? ... 2) What is it going to take for the Mavericks to get to the level of consistency (nationally ranked, runs to the Final Five, a national tourney berth or two) that schools like Duluth and St. Cloud have shown over the years? To me, there is no reason they should be consistently better than us. What's your take on that?

Sam, Leitner's situation is unique. Technically, he's not a member of the team. He's a student at MSU who is slated to join the Mavericks next season -- provided his grades are OK. I talked to him on Sunday, and he's not playing for the Mavs this year. He said he might play a men's league or something like that in Mankato just to play get hockey in this winter. I've noticed that he's been attending home games, too. He sits with the scratched players. When people have said they saw him on the bench, they mean that he's stood there to watch warmups with the other players who didn't dress. But he has not skated in any practices or anything like that.

As for your other concern, that's the $64,000 question, isn't it? Duluth was in desperate straits for awhile (hardly consistent) but is certainly back on top now -- and just in time to open a brand-spankin'-new arena, too. UMD has a great tradition in the WCHA that dates back 50 years in a hockey-crazy community. St. Cloud State? They're most similar to MSU, but what sets them apart? Is it the on-campus rink/practice facilities? Is it a bigger hockey budget? Is it simply the age of the D-I program, relative to MSU's. Perhaps it's all of the above. I am still of the belief that early departures may have hurt Minnesota State, at least from a consistency standpoint, as much if not more than any other team. They haven't lost high draft picks; they've lost free agents and lower picks -- guys like Jackman, Stevenson, Carter, Wagner, Peto, Kalinski and Bruess. Kalinski's the only guy in that group who was drafted. Those are huge losses, especially for a program that doesn't get a lot of top-end recruits. You expect to lose guys like Backes and Pitlick. Speaking of Pitlick, how much better would MSU be this season with Pitlick?

From Alex: 1. what happened to tyler thompson, why isn't he on the team this year? and it seems the team really misses a skater like tyler pitlick out on the ice ... 2. it seems like the team really missed grant and cook in saturday's game, are the injuries going to be long term? ... 3. what is going on with the play of evan mosey lately? seems like he is lacking confidence out there and he did not look like a D1 defenseman out on the ice on saturday.

Alex, 1. From the way I understand it, Thompson was basically kicked off the team, or at least not invited back, after last season. ... As for Pitlick, see my comment above. I thought he was due to have a monster year in the WCHA. They could use his skill -- especially his scoring ability. ... 2. It sounds like none of the injuries are long-term problems, so the Mavs should be healthy after the break. They will always miss Grant when he's out. I don't think goaltending was the difference in the second game, although I'd like to get another look at the game-tying goal. I'm not sure how that snuck in behind Lee. It looked like it might have been a centering pass that went in off an MSU defenseman. If Lee was following the pass, that might be why that near side opened up the way it did. ... 3. That's a good question about Mosey. He was the most-improved player last year but has been slow out of the gate this year. It seems like he's behind or even with Josh Nelson right now. I like some things Nelson has done, but Mosey has some ability that should keep him in the lineup every night. He got a chance on Sunday but that did not look like the kid who wowed everybody in those last five games against St. Cloud State last season.

No comments: