Thursday, September 25, 2008

This is the WCHA...previews Wisconsin

One of the newer WCHA blogs posted their Wisconsin preview yesterday. Its worth a read, I agree w/ his assessment of our forward and blue line situation. We definately need to find some guys to step up and score goals, and I think that will happen this season w/ the juniors leading the way. The blue line is solid, and Smith, Goloubef and Gardiner will easily replace what we lost at defenseman to graduation.

I don't agree w/ his takes on our goaltending situation.

IN GOAL: One of this season's more intriguing stories (one that will likely get mentioned during the season, especially if Badger goaltender struggle) is the departure of legendary goalie coach Bill Howard. The 36-year veteran was a part of all six of Wisconsin's national championship teams, and helped develop the likes of Mike Richter, Curtis Joseph, Jim Carey and Brian Elliott.After being spoiled by Elliott for two seasons, Wisconsin goalie Shane Connelly was a step or two back last season. Although his statistics aren't terrible, Connelly was just not on the same level as other goaltenders around the conference. His 2.44 goals against isn't bad in historical terms, but it ranked ninth among his conference counterparts last season. And Wisconsin, despite its lack of a top-flight goal scorer, finished fourth in the conference in scoring offense. Scott Gudmandson, like Connelly, lacks ideal size but is quick. He played in parts of six different games last season, going 1-1-2 in those efforts. His goals against of 2.63 and save percentage of .880 were both substantially worse than Connelly's. Because he will be counted on more next season, Gudmandson will likely see a few more starts this season, but Connelly will again see a bulk of the time.

I left a comment on his post refuting the bolded parts, because I think his evaluation of Shane Connelly is just plain bullsh*t. When you compare Shane to the rest of the WCHA during conference games he is 6th in GAA and 7th in save %. Sure not great, but basically outside of Richard Bachman, Shane is in the same class as Weslosky, Wangas, Zacharias and Stalock in returning goalies. They are all quite close in GAA and save %. Wangas had a better GAA than the rest, while Weslosky's save % was better. Stalock's GAA was worse than all of them in conference games. So to say that Connelly wasn't on the same level w/ the rest of the goaltenders in the WCHA is absurd. The only returning goalie who was significantly better is Bachman, the rest are all about equal statisically. Shane wasn't the reason we did poorly last year, it was our horrible PP and lack of timely goal scoring.

Step or two back indeed. Brian Elliott was something special no doubt about it, but Shane was far from a step or two back for Wisconsin goaltenders last season, and as the stats present themselves he was just as good as every other returning goalie in the WCHA except Bachman.