#1 Michigan vs. Lake Superior State Preview

Michigan skates with a No. 1 ranking for the first time of this season with a pair of games against the Lake Superior State Lakers. With a key cog of the Michigan offense out with a knee injury, how will the Wolverines match up with the Lakers for two games in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

Michigan completed its fourth straight sweep with two weekend wins against the Alaska Nanooks last weekend. The Wolverines go back on the road for a pair of games with Lake Superior State this weekend, and do so without standout center Louie Caporusso. How will the Wolverines fare as they skate with the No. 1 ranking for the first time of the season?

Series Notes
Records: Michigan (9-1-0, 6-0-0), Lake Superior State (2-5-1, 0-2-0)
Series vs. Lake Superior State: Michigan leads 49-46-6
Season Series: First Meeting
Series in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.: 14-22-3 Michigan
Last Meeting: 3-1 Michigan

U-M Offense vs. Lake Superior State Defense
F - Kevin Porter (9-3-12, +5)
F - Chad Kolarik (6-6-12, +4)
F – Aaron Palushaj (3-6-9, -1)
F – Matt Rust (4-4-8, +3)
F - Carl Hagelin (4-3-7, +7)

U-M Goals/Game: 4.1
U-M Shots/Game: 28.8

Lake Superior State Goals Allowed/Game: 3.2
Lake Superior State Shots Allowed/Game: 28.4

Outlook: It will be interesting to see how the Michigan offense adjusts to a Caporusso-less lineup. If the Wolverines can get continued scoring from the top line, it shouldn't be an issue. If they struggle, the difference in play-making abilities may be evident.
Advantage: Michigan

Lake Superior State Offense vs. U-M Defense
F – Nathan Perkovich (7-0-7, -1)
F – Dan Eves (2-4-6, Even)
F – Chad Nehring (2-3-5, +4)
F – Troy Schwab (1-3-4, -5)
D – Steven Kaunisto (2-1-3, Even)

Lake Superior State Goals/Game: 2.2
Lake Superior State Shots/Game: 21.8

U-M Goals Allowed/Game: 2.2
U-M Shots Allowed/Game: 22.8

Outlook: Lake Superior State has an opportunistic attack from a defensive style of play. If the Wolverines can maintain puck possession and avoid turnovers breaking out of their own zone, this is a clear advantage to the Wolverines.
Advantage: Michigan

Goalies
Michigan
Billy Sauer
Record: 9-1-0
GAA: 2.19
Save Percentage: .904%

Lake Superior State
Pat Inglis
Record: 1-3-1
GAA: 3.88
Save Percentage: .859%

Brian Mahoney-Wilson
Record: 1-2-0
GAA: 2.06
Save Percentage: .929%

Outlook: I'm still not sure whether or not I'm ready to drink the Billy Sauer Kool-aid. Michigan has got strong play from Sauer to open the season, but his play had been strong the second half of last season before self-destructing in the NCAA Tournament. We'll give Michigan the edge here due to a better level of team defense.
Advantage: Michigan

U-M Power Play vs. Lake Superior State Penalty Kill
U-M Power Play: 22.2% (5th in CCHA, 12-for-54)
U-M Shorthanded Goals Allowed: 0

Lake Superior State PK: 71.4% (11th in CCHA, 30-for-42)
Lake Superior State Shorthanded Goals: 0
Lake Superior State PIM/Game: 13.4

Lake Superior State Power Play vs. U-M Penalty Kill
Lake Superior State Power Play: 16.3% (8th in CCHA, 7-for-43)
Lake Superior State Shorthanded Goals Allowed: 2

U-M PK: 83.7% (4th in CCHA, 41-for-49)
U-M Shorthanded Goals: 1
U-M PIM/Game: 16.4

Outlook: Once again the Wolverines find their biggest advantage while skating on special teams. Lake Superior State has some of the worst penalty kill numbers in the CCHA. Michigan's power play should be able to find the back of the net this weekend.
Advantage: Michigan

Prediction
Michigan is skating this weekend for their best start since Red Berenson was a player in the Maize and Blue. With Caporusso gone, I don't expect the chemistry to be there as it has been the past four weekends. That said, I can't see Michigan losing to this team as they cruise into the College Hockey Showcase with an 11-1-0 record and revenge against the Gophers on the mind.
3-1 Michigan and 5-2 Michigan

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