We may have our timing off a little. Nonetheless, we continue to evaluate the season at the trimester level. By our fuzzy math, this weekend starts the last third of the season as the Bulldogs host the Gophers.
Following out format from the first mid-season report:
Offense: The offensive production has slowed. When last graded the Bulldogs were 4th in the nation in scoring; now they are 12th. Their goals per game is nothing to scoff at, currently 3.48. But this team is built for scoring especially with sometimes inconsistent defensive play. We applaud the line changes to spread out talent, and so far it has seemed to work. In the end, scoring is the key to UMD going far and we see diminished returns and room for improvement, B+.
Team Defense: Losing Dylan Olsen over the New Year break hurts this aspect of the game. The team has responded well and players have definitely stepped up, gaining the all important confidence at the same time. Since the last grading period, the Bulldogs have dropped their goals against from 2.50 to 2.28, good for 11th in the nation. Defense is looking to get stronger as the year goes on, A-.
Special Teams: This is the one area that has definitely improved. Scoring on the power play wasn’t really ever a concern, but penalty kill was. The Bulldogs have moved up to #18 in the nation on PK and are only behind Denver and CC in the WCHA. PP has dropped a little also, but is still above 21% and ranks #11 in the country and third in the WCHA. Maybe the bonus of it all is the 9 shorthanded goals, but the kicker is the penalty minutes per game, 16.12. We give a B+.
Goaltending: The area most improved is goaltending. The goalie, Reiter and Crandall, both need more experience. And as expected they have progressed well over the season. Both are well over 0.900 saves percentage, our key indicator. Coach Sandelin still hasn’t picked one to go with, so both are getting time and experience. We give them an A-.
In reading over this grading article I am found asking myself if we expect too much. The simple answer is no. This team has been prepping for a run into April for two years now, and this is likely the best shot at achieving that goal. Last grading period we gave the overall team an A- and we will stick with that for now, keeping expectations high.
Last grading period is TBD, we look forward to it being in April.