Jarod Zirbel crossed over the line and fired a puck from the circle on net. It hit Hayden Lavigne on the blocker, bounced off the glass behind him and dropped right back in front of the net for Aidan Cavallini to score an easy goal to make it 6-3 Badgers.
That was the kind of night it was for the Wolverines. It’s been that kind of a season too.
Michigan was in this game for half of a period. They were thoroughly dominated by the Badgers in the first but used two opportunistic goals to go into the intermission leading 2-1.
Still, the warning signs were there at the break like they have been all season long. The Wolverines were sloppy in their own zone turning the puck over and could not get out of the defensive zone. They survived playing like this against Ferris State and ASU but this is Wisconsin and if they didn’t fix it they were going to get blown out.
They didn’t fix it and five Badger goals later the rout was on.
I told myself in the preseason that this blueline was going to be good. They had returned almost everyone from last year and added two talented recruits. How could they not be good?
But as Wisconsin sunk an empty netter to tally seven goals at Yost I realized that I’ve been saying this for almost seven years and Michigan’s blueline has never improved the way it should.
I can’t sugarcoat it anymore. Michigan is 6-8-1 and they’re 0-3-0 in conference play with three blowout losses. The last time Michigan started conference play with 3 losses Red Berenson was 16 years old. He turned 77 yesterday.
The success of this team was hingeing on the defensemen finally putting it together and they didn’t come through. They can’t handle any amount of forechecking pressure without turning the puck over and no one can make an outlet pass out of the defensive zone.
I want to see this team improve. I want them to salvage this season and send Red into retirement on a high note but it’s not going to happen. What we’re seeing is how it is and it’s not going to get better.