Who: Michigan State (9-11-2) vs #13 Michigan (15-7-0)
Where: Joe Louis Arena
When: Friday, January 30th, 7:35pm.
TV: FS Detroit
About Michigan State
It's only been four games since the last time we faced off with the Spartans in the GLI, so not much has changed.
On the blueline Michigan State is a solid group like they have been since Tom Anastos took over. They play a smart game in the neutral zone against transition teams like Michigan, limit mistakes and block a ton of shots.
Behind upperclassmen Rhett Holland, RJ Boyd, John Draeger and freshman Josh Jacobs, the Spartans lead all Big Ten teams with the fewest number of goals allowed (54). In net Jake Hildebrand has played every game this year and can shut teams down but has found himself in the loss column too many times during his career as a result of poor goal support from his forwards.
Another not so great trend during the Anastos era has been a lack of goal scoring and this team is no different. There are a lot of good players on this team but no one has stepped up to become that next level scorer and as a result their 51 goals scored is 2nd worst in the conference only to Wisconsin.
Matt Berry is back after serving a suspension and he's noted for stepping up in games against Michigan. Berry leads the team in points despite playing six less games than 2nd leading scorer Michael Ferrantino. The sophomore trio of MacEachern, Haag and Joe Cox have been good but not great and Keller and DeBlouw have chipped in a few goals each.
Comparing these teams, both are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Michigan State ranks 45th in goals scored per game, Michigan ranks 1st. The Spartans 25th in goals allowed, the Wolverines 44th. Michigan State will grind and slow tempo down while the Wolverines love to skate. So in a battle of offense vs defense who comes out on top?
I've been wary of a letdown for a few games now, thinking that eventually the Michigan goal scoring bonanza has to slow down at least for a game. They'll have no trouble winning this game if they score 7, but how does the defense and Zach Nagelvoort respond if they can only muster 2 or 3?