Who: Michigan vs Ohio State
Where: Friday, Value City Arena. Sunday, Yost Ice Arena
When: Friday, 6:30pm. Saturday 5:05pm
The Buckeyes started their season 0-7-0 before breaking through with a 3 game win streak beating Mercyhurst and Canisius. Since then the Bucks have gone 3-4-1 with a win over Wisconsin and two impressive wins against Boston College and Cornell in the Florida College Classic.
Ohio State enters the series with the 16th ranked offense, scoring 3.06 goals per game and feature the 19th best power play. Under head coach Steve Rohlik the Buckeyes have put potent offensive lineups on the ice. They like to get out in transition, push the pace and spread the defensemen out to attack.
Junior Nick Schilkey leads the team with ten goals. Anthony Greco has added eight goals, Matt Weis has six and Tyler Lundey has five.
On the blueline the Buckeyes have not fared as well. Despite returning five blueliners from last season, defensively the Bucks have allowed 2.94 goals per game, 37th in the country.
In net the Bucks have two three year starters between the pipes. Christian Frey has put up the best numbers so far, posting a .925 sv% and a 2.33 goals against with shutouts against Cornell and Wisconsin. Those are solid numbers, considering Frey has seen twenty five or more shots in all of his starts this season except for one. Five times this season Frey has faced thirty shots in a game.
Matt Tomkins has posted a 3-6-0 record, a .900 sv% and a 3.19 goals against.
Out of the break everything seems to be coming together. Steve Racine is playing well in net, Zach Werenski looks like a new player, the Michigan blueline has improved and goals are being scored in bunches. Against one of the better offensive teams Michigan has faced so far this year they'll have the chance to prove if this surge is a sign of real improvement or a mirage.
The line of Kyle Connor, JT Compher and Tyler Motte has established itself as not just the best in the Big Ten but as one of the best in the country. Connor is currently riding an eight game point streak that has featured ten goals and nine assists.
Sam Piazza should stay in the lineup as the 7th defenseman. Michigan hasn't really seen anything from their 12th forward to keep him in the lineup and the Dancs-Shuart combo has actually preformed really well with a rotating winger.
Ohio State will not sit back and wait for Michigan to come to them. The Wolverines will see a two-forward deep forecheck to force turnovers making it imperative that pucks come off the sticks of the Michigan defensemen fast and out of the zone.
Expect to see checks finished and both teams spending time in the box. With two lethal power plays, you could see special teams being the deciding factor this weekend.