Who: Michigan (3-9, 0-4) at No. 18 Penn State (7-6, 1-3)
Where: State College, PA
When: Today at 12:00 p.m. ET
How to Watch: BTN, BTN2Go
The Nittany Lions are coming off three consecutive 1-point losses (two of which were in OT) to conference foes Maryland, Johns Hopkins, and Rutgers. Michigan has lost seven in a row, five to ranked opponents.
|Shots on goal-Attempts||228-395||287-449|
|Faceoffs||159-308 (.516)||161-339 (.475)|
|Clears||184-215 (.856)||167-186 (.898)|
As you can see, Penn State is a better offensive team, but Michigan actually holds the slight edge in defensive efficiency. At 10.62 turnovers per game, the Nittany Lions are second in the Big Ten, while Michigan holds the number two ranking in caused turnovers, with an average of 7.75 per game.
After last weekend's game, Michigan (10) came away with fewer turnovers than Johns Hopkins (15), and caused four more than the Jays (9 to 5). So Michigan has shown an ability to hang onto the ball and play some defense to get the ball back against a good team. Where they failed, at first, was on the face-off; Brad Lott was pulled after going only 3-13, but replacement FOGO Mike McDonnell subsequently won 12 of 21 chances. Lott will probably get the nod against PSU's Billy Lombardi, but don't be surprised if John Paul pulls the trigger early in the second quarter if the W-L for Lott goes sideways off the bat.
Leading the charge for the Nittany Lions is Canadian senior, TJ Sanders and his 24 goals. Grant Ament is the key assist man with 28 in 13 games for PSU. Ament is also tied for the lead in man-up goals with freshman Kevin Hill at three each in the extra-man chances.
Penn State has a trio of defenders who are going to make things miserable for the Michigan offense. Peter Triolo, Christopher Sabia, and Mike Aronow have a combined 29 caused turnovers. They are also keen on picking up the ground balls, with 57 for the group.
Between the pipes, the Lions' Will Schreiner has a save percentage of .461 and a 10.62 goals-against average. Penn State may be at the bottom of the conference in saves per game (9.38), but when you consider that Michigan is first at 12.58, and then realize Gerald Logan is facing more shots than almost anyone (as I've said before), the Nittany Lions are not at all in a bad position going into today. With about two-thirds of PSU's shots being on-goal, you can expect Logan to have yet another busy day ahead of him.
Kyle Jackson made his triumphant return to the Michigan lineup last week after missing the previous four games. Even sitting out for a month, Jackson had been the team's leading scorer, and his five goals against Hopkins still puts him ten goals above the next guy, Peter Kraus, and his 18 goals.
Jackson's presence could have meant wins against Maryland and Ohio State, so make no mistake about it--as Jackson goes, so go the Wolverines. If he has the type of performance he did against Hopkins last weekend, there's a good chance Michigan can save a little face this season and go out with a win on the road.