Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekend Off Allows for Scouting and Speculation

A weekend off gives time to pause and refocus. It also allows a team like the Bulldogs to scout their upcoming opponents. And the results should give UMD reason to be excited and cautious.

The upcoming opponents and their most recent outings:

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities hosted anchorage for two in Minneapolis. After a showcase of scoring Friday night for a 5-1 UMTC win, the Seawolves shut down the Gophers en route to a 1-0 win Saturday.
  • Conclusion, the Gophers are still the Gophers. The ups and downs and total inconsistency is still there. They have trouble scoring at times and an early lead for the Bulldogs will likely make for a win. UMD did have trouble with the Gophers earlier this season and the assumption is that familiarity and home cooking should help UMD.
Minnesota State – Mankato traveled to Saint Cloud State for a weekend series and came away very pleased. The Mavs worked hard as usual and came out with three points after a 3-3 tie Friday and 6-2 Saturday.
  • UMD play both MSUM and SCSU. SCSU is erratic and still cannot put it all together after a nice start to 2011. The fact is that the Huskies goaltending is suspect. UMD should be able to take care of SCSU in Duluth.
  • MSUM may be tougher. The Mavs are hardnosed defensive, but tend to have let downs late in the game. The games are in Mankato, but a young Mavs team should be a distinct sweep opportunity for the Bulldogs.
Colorado College split a pair of games at home against North Dakota. CC used good defense, early scoring and holding off a surging Sioux team at the end to win 4-2 Friday. Then as expected, the Sioux woke up and took it to the Tigers 6-0.
  • The morale for UMD is that CC is a good team, but beatable. The Sioux should have swept the Tigers, but they either didn’t show up or the game wasn’t long enough, the choice is yours. The X-factor is Jaden Schwartz is expected to return to CC in time for the UMD series.
Omaha hosted Huntsville and became the second WCHA team to lose to UAH this season in a 2-1 OT loss Saturday night after an Omaha win 4-0. BSU is the other team who lost to the Chargers, but at least that was in Huntsville.
  • UMD ends the regular season at home against Omaha. This looks like a UMD sweep after looking at the Mav’s trend. Omaha started out so well, but they are now falling to the bottom half where we predicted them to be from the beginning. It is practically free-fall as described by INCH:
The Mavericks started the season by winning eight of their first nine. Since then, they've won seven of 17 and haven't posted consecutive wins in six weeks.
Additionally, two teams not on the UMD schedule for the rest of the season, Wisconsin and MTU, met in Houghton this weekend. The Badgers swept the Huskies extending MTU’s winless streak to 21.

Although all of the Bulldog’s opponents are currently in the TUC of the PWR, the schedule could be very favorable for the Bulldogs down the stretch. But it is after a lackluster weekend by most of the WCHA teams that has us speculating positively on the rest of the UMD regular season.

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