Friday, February 28, 2014

#20 Bulldogs Need to End Skid; Travel to Miami, OH

Four Loses Straight Put UMD on the Precipice

UMD is playing for their postseason life, if there is one to even save.

Not only have the Bulldogs played themselves out of a secure PWR ranking, but home ice in the first round of the NCHC playoffs is in serious peril too.

The Bulldogs will need help to reach postseason goals, but all the help in the world is nothing if they do not win.  This weekend will be an indicator if they are totally dead in the water.

Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, NCHC, Redhawk
Picks by @afiskness.  Last weekend the top teams in NCHC were able to spread themselves out from the pack making it look like a two team race for the Julie and Spencer Penrose Memorial Cup.  Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the dreadful second period of play Saturday night probably cemented UMD in the bottom half of the division.  Now with a suddenly surging Colorado Tiger team in the rear view mirror, the Bulldogs will need to find some wins or they could end up in seventh place.  I could spend a long time writing about the Saturday game, but it won't get us anywhere so I will keep that in the past.  

Conference Picks
Minnesota Duluth @ Miami:  The good thing about this series is that the Bulldogs are on the road and that there is a Chipotle in Oxford. The Bulldogs season is currently spirally out of control and maybe the Chipotle will be the difference this weekend.  Last weekend the Redhawks were finally able to get a win and may be looking to feast on the wounded psyche of the Bulldogs.  Originally I was picking this series as two ties, but I think I am going to go with a split instead.  Thanks, Chipotle.  
Denver @ Miami:  Back in December when these two teams last played the Pioneers swept, nut I think this will be a different weekend.  The Pioneers seem to be in a funk again and I think the Broncos may actually play good for the prize of home ice.  Broncos win and tie.  
Colorado @ Nebraska Omaha:  Scott Owen's Tigers are hot, but this shoud be a balanced series.  The Mavericks scoring is much better than the Tigers and they will earn the split.  
North Dakota @ St. Cloud State:  The best series of the weekned, but I don't think we are going to see any change in the standings when it is over.  This series will be a split

Friday, February 21, 2014

#16 Bulldogs Host #11 North Dakota in Pivotal Weekend

UMD Crossed the Line Last Weekend; Look to Do Same for UND

It was a long time in coming, but UMD has made the transition.  Back in mid December I distinctly remember a conversation with a long time friend about where the Bulldogs were headed.  At that time UMD had seven losses with at least one coming per weekend.  The conversation went to NCAA Tournament chances and crossing the line, the line of double-digit losses.

When the number of losses crosses the line, you have to look at many factors such as the calendar and opponents to name two.  If the line would have been crossed in late December or early January, as UMD was projected to when my conversation occurred, it would have been a clear marker of a middle of the road team not destined for post season games.

Projections were incorrect and UMD just crossed the line last weekend while being swept at Saint Cloud.  In the meantime, the Bulldogs have worked their way into the top 16 of the PWR and as high as 11.

Now after being swept last weekend and crossing the line, UMD is sitting perilously at #16 and facing #11 North Dakota this weekend.

North Dakota also crossed a line last weekend also in sweeping Miami; they moved into the top 16 of the PWR.  UMD has a chance to help UND cross the double-digit loss line with at least one win this weekend.

StatPack.  How UMD and UND stack up:
Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, NCHC, UND
Of note:
  • The Bulldogs still have a high number of penalty minutes per game, but opponents are averaging more at 16.1.
  • UMD is scoring more than a goal per game less at home this season, 2.25, compared to 3.44 on the road.
Picks by @afiskness.  One poor weekend and the Bulldogs find themselves going from second and having a good shot at winning the Julie and Spencer Penrose Memorial Cup to fifth and battling for home ice in the playoffs.  Hopefully the team can get a good start against North Dakota.  I think this is looked at as bigger weekend by the players and we will see a better all around effort.  
North Dakota @ Minnesota Duluth:  Bulldog fans can hope that Miami gave up last weekend allowing the big goal scoring by North Dakota and that Duluth laid the egg and are now back on the straight path.  This weekend is a close to a coin toss, I will say split.
 St. Cloud @ Miami:  Last Saturdays loss for the Redhawks was probably an eye opener for the team.  However there are no cupcakes in the NCHC, so I don't think they can get this thing turned around this weekend.  I could see a slight let down by the Huskies maybe leading to a tie one of the games, but I will go with a Huskie sweep in Oxford.
 Nebraska Omaha @ Western Michigan:  This is another coin toss, both of these teams you just don't know who is going to show up.  No real between the pipes talk here and will go with a split.  
Colorado versus Denver (home and home):  The Tigers have been playing much better recently and will definitely be up for this series.  Denver has been streaky and struggles to score at times.  With the home and home this looks like a split. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

#13 Bulldogs Take On #8 Huskies in Saint Cloud

Rematch Brings the Top Two NCHC Teams Together

Last meeting between the Huskies and Bulldogs was back in early December in Duluth.  SCSU was on a tear with a record of 9-1-2.  UMD was trying to put something together after a big win in Minneapolis against the Gophers, but a string of splits in going 6-5-1.

The results of the weekend was a Saint Cloud sweep.  But arguably UMD had the better game Friday and should have won except for defensive mistakes.  The second night was the typical big loss UMD was enduring so far that fall.

Fast forward to now.  Since their first meeting, SCSU has gone 4-5-3 while the Bulldogs have stepped up with a 7-2-3 record.  Currently UMD has second longest unbeaten streak in the nation with 4-0-3 in their last seven games.

In the meantime, the UMD and SCSU series this weekend pits the top two teams in the NCHC.  The weekend could cement the Huskies as the favorite to win the conference, or the standings could shift to the Bulldogs’ favor.

By the Stats.  UMD and SCSU by the numbers:

Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, NCHC, SCSU

Picks by @afiskness.  The race for the Julie and Spencer Penrose Memorial Cup is heated and I expect it to remain bunched through this weekend.

Minnesota Duluth @ St. Cloud State:  The Bulldogs have been a better team on the road than at home this year and the Huskies defense has shown its weaknesses recently.  This is a leveling weekend for the Bulldogs and a split will be all they can get.  A slow start for the Bulldogs could mean a no point weekend. Split.
Denver @ Nebraska Omaha:  This should be a couple great games.  They should come down to the special teams.  This should be a split.  
Miami @ North Dakota:  The Redhawks season is going the wrong way.  They could use a cupcake game to get some confidence back.  North Dakota sweep.
Western Michigan @ Colorado College:  The Tigers looked like a much better team last weekend in Duluth than their record indicated.  Having said that I don't think they are playing well enough to get a win this weekend.  I expect a couple low scoring games and a Broncos win and a tie. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Bulldogs Host The Tigers

This week the Bulldog's head home to the comfy confines of Amsoil Arena.  After a very successful weekend in Kalamazoo the Bulldog's hope to keep the winning ways going.  Their recent success has catapulted the team within 3 points of first place in the hunt for the Julie and Spencer Penrose Memorial Cup.  The Tigers should be just the team that allows the Bulldog's to keep on rolling.

Pick by @afiskness
Colorado College @ Minnesota Duluth: The Tigers are having a bad season, anything other than a sweep for the Bulldogs will be a disappointment and could be a NCAA killer.  UMD sweep. 
Western Michigan @ Miami:  The Redhawks are underachieving and the Broncos still remain very streaky.  This looks like a split but I wouldn't be surprised by a Bronco sweep.  Split. 
Nebraska Omaha @ North Dakota:  The Mavericks can put up goals, but tend to give up a bunch of goals.  I like the Blais led squad to be able to earn a split in Grand Forks. 
Denver @ St. Cloud State:  Good tending versus good scoring, unfortunately for the Huskies they have not had good goal tending and defense recently.  The home ice makes this a split.