Friday morning reading

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Arrived and got settled at our hotel here at about 3 p.m. Thursday, then proceeded to have a productive first day in town.

Had lunch on the Harvard campus (which is a pretty cool place), covered the Blues-Bruins game (more from T.J. Oshie next week), met up with some friends at Cheers and made one last stop for last call at Fenway Park (seriously, there is a bar inside the center field wall that overlooks the field through a clear garage door).

It might be hard to beat this road trip.

The team has been raving about it, too. They arrived a little bit before us and had a couple of hours to kill between lunch and practice. Many of the players wandered over to Fenway Park to check it out themselves.

This will be UND’s second trip to Agganis Arena. The first one didn’t go so well — UND dropped a pair of games in the 2008 Ice Breaker (losses against BU and UMass).

If things are to go better this weekend, UND will need to bring down its goals-against a little bit. Right now, UND has the worst goals-against per game in the NCHC. Read about that here.

Personally, I think the biggest way to remedy the team GAA is by eventually sustaining more pressure in the offensive zone. If you have the puck in the offensive zone, the opponent can’t get shots and score.

UND’s shot margin

2013-14: -5.0
2012-13: +2.4
2011-12: +2.7
2010-11: +10.2
2009-10: +9.8
2008-09: +6.7
2007-08: +4.1
2006-07: +2.7
2005-06: -0.5
2004-05: +3.9

UND’s team isn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut this year, and it will be up against it this weekend down several forwards, but any bit of improvement in that area would surely be welcome to the coaching staff and the goaltenders.

In doing a little bit of research about BU, the thing that stood out to me was the tough schedule that the Terriers have started the season with. They have played several ranked teams already — Providence, Wisconsin, Boston College, RPI and Michigan. That explains their average 5-6 record.

The biggest strength for BU is probably the blue line. They have several standout players, led by Garrett Noonan, Ahti Oksanen and Matt Grzelcyk. Up front, the guy to watch is sophomore Danny O’Regan, who was highlighted in this week’s Ice Time page. He leads the team in goals.

This week’s “Get to Know” segment is with assistant coach Brad Berry, who coaches the defensemen and the power play. Berry returned to UND after coaching with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.

Around the NCHC….

Colorado College at St. Cloud State: The Tigers had a short week of preparation after playing Air Force on Tuesday. Not much is going right for the Tigers right now, and a lot is going right for the Huskies. St. Cloud State sweep.

Miami at Nebraska Omaha: These are the teams that I had 1-2 in my preseason NCHC ballot. Should be a good series. I’m tempted to pick a Miami sweep, but PasswordisTaco put Miami on Upset Watch and I don’t bet against him (especially after he went 2-for-2 last week, picking UNO’s upset of Michigan and the UND women’s upset of Minnesota). Split.

Duluth at Minnesota: The Gophers are rolling with this young team as the highly touted recruiting class is living up to its hype. The Gophs have a nine-game unbeaten streak in Mariucci going back to last season. It continues. Minnesota wins and ties.

Western Michigan vs. Michigan State: These two teams are struggling and could use a win. Both get one. Split.

Denver vs. Air Force: Another home-and-home. After beating the Tigers, the Falcons should have plenty of confidence to take on an up-and-down Pioneers team. I say Sam Brittain gets yet another shutout in one game, but Chad Demers and the Falcons get the Pios in the other. Split.

UND at Boston University: UND doesn’t seem to win when I’m out here (as evidenced in a previous blog entry). Could the first one be with this depleted lineup? Not sure about that. Boston University win and tie.

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On the women’s side, UND faces the new longest winning streak in college hockey. After taking down Minnesota and its 62-game run, now it’s up to the UND women to take down the Badgers’ eight-game streak.

Wisconsin presents a much different challenge than the Gophers with a very strong defensive team.

The Badgers played the Gophers toe-to-toe on back-to-back nights earlier this season, and they haven’t allowed more than two goals in any game yet. So, life doesn’t get any easier for the UND women.

Also, check out USCHO.com’s article on how Gracen Hirschy and Halli Krzyzaniak have helped transform UND’s blue line from a weakness to a strength this season.

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THIS WEEKEND’S VIEWING OPTIONS:

Tonight’s UND vs. BU men’s game, 6:30 p.m. Central: NBC Sports Network, DirecTV 220, Dish Network 159.

Saturday’s UND vs. BU men’s game, 6 p.m. Central: Midco Sports Network, NESN, DirecTV 628, Dish Network 434.

Tonight’s UND vs. Wisconsin women’s game, 7 p.m. Central: Fox College Sports Pacific, Midco Sports Network, DirecTV 623.

Also, stay tuned for a pregame video blog this afternoon. Adios for now.

3 thoughts on “Friday morning reading

  1. I would like them to skate Mattson as a forward for the weekend. Bring in Keaton Thompson to fill his void. I think Mattson could bring some depth to the forward position. The kid has good hands and a great spin move.

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