Kolarik. It's not a groin, it's a hamstring, and it will keep Kolarik out 4-5 weeks if all goes according to plan. We won't see him until at least the Joe and maybe not even then, as these sorts of injuries have a tendency to linger. I am mildly encouraged that it's not Kolarik's groin -- groin injuries are about the nastiest ones you can get in hockey.
The weekend. Michigan held serve with a pair of 4-2 victories over Lake State and Miami did us the great favor of getting inexplicably swept by Ferris State, staking Michigan to a five point lead in the CCHA. Michigan can go 2-2 in the final two weekends of the regular season and still win the league; sweep Michigan State and Michigan locks the title up.
HOWEVA, the Kolarik injury and Michigan's recent struggles against tight-checking teams makes that latter scenario doubtful. Michigan won both nights against the Lakers but in terms of overall level of play this weekend was actually a step down from the two ties against Northern. In that series, Michigan significantly outshot and outchanced a mediocre CCHA team only to be undone by bad luck and a couple of horrific goals yielded by Brian Hogan on Saturday; this weekend one of the worst teams in the league was close to even in shots and chances but for a two-minute five on three Friday.
The upcoming pair against MSU will help clarify whether Michigan's difficulties against defensive-minded, neutral-zone-clogging opponents are a burgeoning trend or just a couple bad weekends. Another poo weekend against MSU and I'm officially concerned-ish.
Yost Built has its take, too.
Hokay. It's like this. By virtue of Michigan's performance to date they have locked up a tournament bid and will be no worse than a two seed no matter what happens from here on out. Michigan could go 0-6 the rest of the way and be a two seed.
Full PWR here.
There are six teams out there that can wrest their comparisons from Michigan:
Real Moonbat StuffMiami: Miami's really hurt by their closing schedule. Wins against OSU and WMU aren't likely to count at all in their RPI and will not help them with common opponents, which is currently favoring Miami because Michigan hasn't played Ferris State yet. As long as M wins the conference they'll win COP and RPI. If Michigan somehow blows it, Miami will have an opportunity to wrest the comparison away from M by outperforming them in the playoffs.
Denver: Michigan would have to really implode and DU would have to win out in the regular season or, failing that, win the WCHA playoffs. And that's just to get past Michigan in RPI; even then Michigan might win the comparison.
UNH: Loses COP (barely and unfairly... 6-0-1 for them to our 4-0) and that won't change, but is close in TUC. Way back in RPI, though, and would need a really poor performance from M coupled with a win in the HE playoffs.
DoubtfulMichigan State: State is way far back and normally would not be within striking distance, but they have two, maybe three games coming up against Michigan and could take the comparison if they win two more games than Michigan does against them. MSU would have to sweep next weekend or take three points and beat Michigan in the CCHA playoffs.
PossibleNorth Dakota: The streaking Sioux have a COP edge on Michigan they'll keep unless they manage to lose to Wisconsin or Minnesota in the WCHA tourney -- doubtful. Michigan will hold their RPI edge into the conference playoffs unless UND wins at least five of six and Michigan splits down the stretch -- UND has to win three more games than Michigan does, basically -- but if it's close by the time the league playoffs roll around M could get passed.
Colorado College: CC also holds COP and is about two games back in RPI.
Note that CC and DU finish the regular season with a series, so both passing Michigan is virtually impossible.
The upshot: Root against all these teams, very little else matters. Michigan will be in danger of losing its top two seed if they get swept by State this weekend, giving them that comparison.
Next WeekendMichigan State on the road and then the annual game at the Joe. Last time the two teams met, Michigan lost 1-0 in a nearly unwatchable game and tied 2-2 in a nearly unwatchable game. No even strength goals were scored the entire weekend except for Matt Schepke's "Sparty, no!" own goal with two minutes left in Saturday's third period.
Since then, MSU has split against UNO, been swept by Northern, and swept Western... not particularly inspiring. But they know how to frustrate Michigan and Kolarik is out.
A split is okay, and is what I expect.