Sunday, February 10, 2008

Futility reaches lowest point

Four straight games with one goal each. Eight straight games with two goals or less. Yeah, the Gopher men's hockey team is struggling offensively.

For the third straight weekend, Minnesota came away with one point, while teams ahead of them in the standings begin to pull away. Denver won 4-1 Saturday after the two teams skated to a 1-1 tie Friday.

The results this weekend has Minnesota in seventh place with 17 points - five behind Wisconsin and Minnesota State-Mankato for fourth - and one point ahead of Michigan Tech and St. Cloud State for ninth.

Can it get any worse?

This past weekend, Minnesota's 13 forwards failed to score a goal, with defensemen R.J. Anderson and David Fischer lit the map. Instead of breaking down the past weekend, I thought I'd look at some (un)offensive numbers.

Anderson's goal on Friday, which tied the score at one midway through the third period, was his fifth goal of the season. Remember, despite being an offensive talent in high school at Centennial, Anderson didn't record a goal in his first two seasons.

With his five goals, he has more goals than these everyday starting forwards:
* Jay Barriball 3 (he did not play Saturday - ankle injury)
* Mike Howe 4
* Ryan Flynn 3
* Patrick White 3
* Justin Bostrom 2

What's even more pathetic is Anderson's 12 points are fourth on the team!!!!! Only Blake Wheeler (26), Ben Gordon (22) and Barriball (16) have more points this season.

It's not that Minnesota isn't getting shots - they outshot Denver 32-27 last night - but the shots they are getting is what is key. Nobody can create shots in the slot, leaving the majority of the blasts to come from the outside, or ones that the goaltenders can clearly see.

Right now, the Gophers average 2.4 goals per game, which won't get it done. It's too bad because the WCHA is down. Mankato has won six straight, even leader Colorado College lost on their home ice to St. Cloud Saturday.

One more stat: 15 power-play goals (15-for-135....11 percent). I remember the days that we approached 18-20 percent.

Thank goodness the Gophers have next weekend off. Now, we can enjoy the finer things in the program - go Gophers basketball!

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