#1 Michigan vs. #5 Michigan State Preview

No. 1 Michigan and No. 5 Michigan State are scheduled to meet for the first of four regular season meetings tonight at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor. How do the Wolverines and Spartans match up as the two teams prepare to battle for a leg up in the CCHA conference standings?

After going over half the season without a battle between Michigan and Michigan State, the two squads will make up for lost time with four meetings in the next 30 days. It starts now. It's Michigan and Michigan State. How do these two top ten teams match up in a two-game series that will go a long way in determining a regular season champion?

Series Notes
Records: Michigan (22-2-0, 15-1-0 CCHA), Michigan State (16-5-4, 12-2-2 CCHA)
Series vs. Michigan State: Michigan leads 127-116-17
Season Series: First Meeting
Series in Ann Arbor: Michigan leads 66-41-4
Series in East Lansing: Michigan State leads 57-41-7
Last Meeting: 5-2 Michigan (3/16/2007)

U-M Offense vs. Michigan State Defense
F – Kevin Porter (22-17-39, +18)
F – Chad Kolarik (18-14-32, +15)
F – Aaron Palushaj (6-18-24, +4)
F – Travis Turnbull (9-7-16, +17)
F – Louie Caporusso (6-6-12, +11)

U-M Goals/Game: 4.1
U-M Shots/Game: 30.8

Michigan State Goals Allowed/Game: 2.4
Michigan State Shots Allowed/Game: 29.5

Outlook: When Michigan State shocked the hockey world by claiming the 2007 National Championship, it was behind the play of goalie Jeff Lerg. The goalies numbers haven't been up to the heights he achieved in 2007, but he's still good under pressure. The Michigan offense, however, is clicking and finally back to full strength. I give Michigan the slight edge should forward Max Pacioretty be ready to go this weekend.
Advantage: Michigan

Michigan State Offense vs. U-M Defense
F – Tim Kennedy (13-14-27, +8)
F – Justin Abdelkader (11-11-22, +7)
F – Matt Schepke (10-14-24, +11)
F – Bryan Lerg (11-9-20, 0)
F – Tim Crowder (9-12-21, +6)

Michigan State Goals/Game: 3.5
Michigan State Shots/Game: 30.5

U-M Goals Allowed/Game: 1.8
U-M Shots Allowed/Game: 26.5

Outlook: Michigan State's offense isn't spectacular, but they're relentless and know how to make teams pay for mistakes in their own end. Michigan will have to be especially crisp when breakout out of its own zone, our turnovers will bite the Maize and Blue right on their back sides. Getting the home game first should help the team adjust to Michigan State's aggressive fore-check.
Advantage: Michigan

Billy Sauer
Record: 20-2-0
GAA: 1.70
Save Percentage: .935

Michigan State
Jeff Lerg
Record: 15-5-4
GAA: 2.28
Save Percentage: .922

Outlook: Is this the weekend that Billy Sauer finally reverts back to old form? Michigan fans hope not. Jeff Lerg is battle tested, and, despite the numbers, has to feel like he's got less to prove than Sauer heading into the weekend. I think both goalies come up big in the nets and I'll call this one even.
Advantage: Push

U-M Power Play vs. Michigan State Penalty Kill
U-M Power Play: 21.6% (27-of-125)
U-M Shorthanded Goals Allowed: 1

Michigan State PK: 84.3% (91-of-108)
Michigan State Shorthanded Goals: 3
Michigan State PIM/Game: 13.8

Michigan State Power Play vs. U-M Penalty Kill
Michigan State Power Play: 22.9% (30-of-131)
Michigan State Shorthanded Goals Allowed: 2

U-M PK: 90.2% (120-of-133)
U-M Shorthanded Goals: 6
U-M PIM/Game: 17.6

Outlook: If Michigan can avoid too many penalty kill situations, this breakdown will be another push in the weekend battle. Michigan State's penalty kill isn't what it has been in recent years, but their power play accounts for nearly half the Michigan State goals. Michigan needs to limit the penalties this weekend or the Wolverines could fall behind as a result of special teams
Advantage: Push

Is this the year that Michigan snaps a three-game winless streak at Munn Ice Arena? Is the Michigan team good enough to maintain their lead in the CCHA standings despite two games in hand on Miami? This writer thinks so.
4-2 Michigan, 3-2 Michigan

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