Just like basketball, a three-week pause of all Michigan athletics came at a terrible time for the hockey team. After struggling to put together the expected results in the fall portion of the season, the Wolverines came out of the break hot with five wins in six games against a trio of rivals. The last thing the team needed was to suddenly halt.
That is how things go, however. No. 8 Michigan kept its place in the poll, but will need to keep accumulating wins to lock in a postseason bid. It is not clear if the missed games will be made up, nor how the selection process will work this year, so every game on the schedule is pretty important, starting with a huge series this weekend.
Series Info & How to Watch
Teams: No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers (11-4-0-1, 34 pts) at No. 8 Michigan Wolverines (7-6-1-0, 23 pts)
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Game 1: Saturday, Feb. 13, 2:00 pm ET — Big Ten Network
Game 2: Sunday, Feb. 14, 5:00 pm ET — TBA
It looked like Minnesota was going to run away with the Big Ten, but the Badgers made a huge statement last weekend with 4-1 and 8-1 wins over the Gophers. As a result, Wisconsin now sits a point ahead in the standings and is in the driver’s seat, though there are plenty of games remaining in the regular season.
Michigan swept the series in Madison way back in November, but this Wisconsin team is looking much sharper now. Cole Caufield leads the country in scoring and has turned his team into the most productive offense in the conference. This is going to be a huge matchup on both ends of the ice with plenty of NHL talent.
Winning the conference remains possible on paper, but is unlikely for the Wolverines. But as their ranking suggests, there are still many believers on a national level, and the four straight wins ahead of the stoppage proved that their best may be yet to come. It will not be easy to face Wisconsin after a layoff, but a strong performance would say a ton about where this team stands.