Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Lackluster Effort, Worse Execution Lead to Fourth Straight Loss

From the start Friday night, it didn't look like UMD had "it" against Denver.

Passing was off, the net drive was non-existent, and there wasn't enough physicality*.

(* - outside of an early boarding penalty against Charlie Sampair. I know some disagree, but I thought it was a dumb penalty, and Sampair was lucky the player he hit -- Adam Plant -- was only a foot or so from the boards, or it could have been an early shower for Chuck.)

UMD paid for these things with a 3-0 loss. The Bulldogs have now dropped four games in a row, and possibly worse, have not led for one second in any of the four games. Worse, the games have only been tied for 43 minutes and 29 seconds out of a possible 240 minutes. That's nearly 200 minutes (196:31, to be precise), or seven full periods, of playing catch-up hockey.

To put that in perspective, UMD trailed for 35:20 in its first six games, a total of 370 minutes when you count the two overtimes against Notre Dame.

Not hard to see why the Bulldogs are struggling. It starts with scoring the first goal, something that seems so simple but has become oh so complicated for this team. UMD is 0-4-1 when conceding the first goal, and its only loss when scoring first came in the opener at Bemidji State, a team that by the way hasn't won since that night.

Denver freshman Jarid Lukosevicius scored two power play goals Friday, one about five minutes in, and one late in the second period. The former came after Sampair's penalty, and the latter on the third of three DU power plays in the second period. UMD was actually close to surviving a second period where nothing of any note really happened, but Lukosevicius and Grant Arnold scored 40 seconds apart for a 3-0 lead that broke UMD's back for the night, basically.

We've been preaching even-strength shots quite a bit, as it shows how UMD has been controlling possession in games. Going into Friday, the Bulldogs were outshooting opponents 25-17 per game at even strength. Friday, shots at even strength were 18-18.

UMD hadn't been a good faceoff team. Naturally, the Bulldogs won 29 of 47 draws on a night where little else went right.

The Bulldogs looked like a frustrated bunch late in Friday's game. If they can avoid getting frustrated Saturday, it could certainly help lead to a sharper performance. Teams tend to not play well when they're frustrated, because it leads to too much negative energy. Even anger can be spun into a positive in an athletic arena. Frustration can't.
Honestly, I don't have much else to say. Things aren't going well at the moment, and hopefully better things are in store in Saturday's series finale. What happened Friday was generally unacceptable, and I have a hard time imagining it will happen again Saturday.

That's all I have. Keep your chins up.

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