#1 Michigan vs. #8 Notre Dame Preview

No. 1 Michigan enters a critical weekend series with No. 8 Notre Dame later this evening when they host the Fighting Irish at 8:05. How do the Wolverines and Irish match up in this contest that pits two teams ranked in the top 10 against each other near the start of the second half of the season?

Michigan opens a critical second half stretch with a pair of games against No. 8 Notre Dame this weekend. How will the Wolverines do in this two-game series against the team that swept the Wolverines in three games last year? Can the Maize and Blue avenge the three losses, including a 2-1 defeat in the CCHA Tournament title game?

Series Notes
Records: Michigan (20-2-0, 13-1-0 CCHA), Notre Dame (18-7-1, 11-4-1 CCHA)
Series vs. Notre Dame: Michigan leads 62-42-5
Season Series: First Meeting
Series in Ann Arbor: Michigan leads 36-20-3
Series in Auburn Hills: Michigan leads 4-0-0
Last Meeting: 2-1 Notre Dame (3/17/2007)

U-M Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense
F – Kevin Porter (20-17-37, +18)
F – Chad Kolarik (17-14-31, +14)
F – Aaron Palushaj (6-16-22, +3)
F – Travis Turnbull (8-6-14, +14)
F – Louie Caporusso (4-6-10, +8)

U-M Goals/Game: 4.1
U-M Shots/Game: 30.9

Notre Dame Goals Allowed/Game: 1.9
Notre Dame Shots Allowed/Game: 21.8

Outlook: It's a classic class of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. Under coach Jeff Jackson, the Notre Dame defense has transformed into one of the best units in the country. Playing a very fundamental style of hockey, the Irish aren't going to give up many scoring chances. On the other hand, Michigan has one of the most well-rounded offensive attacks in the nation. Who has the advantage here? I call it a push..
Advantage: Push

Notre Dame Offense vs. U-M Defense
F – Erik Condra (10-17-27, +8)
F – Ryan Thang (12-5-17, +7)
F – Kevin Deeth (5-12-17, +5)
F – Mark Van Guilder (8-10-18, +2)
F – Evan Rankin (6-7-13, +11)

Notre Dame Goals/Game: 3.2
Notre Dame Shots/Game: 29.2

U-M Goals Allowed/Game: 1.8
U-M Shots Allowed/Game: 26.3

Outlook: Notre Dame's offense is streaky but relentless. Michigan's defense has been solid if not spectacular all season. While skating five-on-five, it's tough to beat the U-M defense, and I don't know if Notre Dame has the depth to do it.
Advantage: Michigan

Goalies
Michigan
Billy Sauer
Record: 18-2-0
GAA: 1.72
Save Percentage: .934

Bryan Hogan
Record: 2-0-0
GAA: 2.01
Save Percentage: .920

Notre Dame
Jordan Pearce
Record: 14-7-1
GAA: 2.01
Save Percentage: .911

Outlook: Sauer has been out of this world this season for the most part. Can his streak continue against Notre Dame this weekend? This will be his toughest test since U-M did battle with Minnesota and Wisconsin back in the College Hockey Showcase. I think he's up to the challenge, but Pearce is no slouch either..
Advantage: Michigan

U-M Power Play vs. Providence Penalty Kill
U-M Power Play: 22.0% (26-of-118)
U-M Shorthanded Goals Allowed: 1

Notre Dame PK: 89.3% (108-of-121)
Notre Dame Shorthanded Goals: 7
Notre Dame PIM/Game: 11.9

Notre Dame Power Play vs. U-M Penalty Kill
Notre Dame Power Play: 15.2% (22-of-145)
Notre Dame Shorthanded Goals Allowed: 2

U-M PK: 89.5% (111-of-124)
U-M Shorthanded Goals: 5
U-M PIM/Game: 17.6

Outlook: If Michigan can limit the number of times Notre Dame skates with a power play, this could be Michigan's greatest advantage. Notre Dame hasn't destroyed teams with the man advantage, but has been lethal while shorthanded. This is another close category, but I give Michigan a slight edge..
Advantage: Michigan

Prediction
Michigan gets revenge on the Fighting Irish for the 0-3-0 record last season.
3-1 Michigan, 3-2 Michigan

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