Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where in the world is Michael Davies?

photo from www.daylife.com

Carmen San Diego has nothing on Michael Davies right now. Two weeks back against Michigan Tech Davies was “unofficially” benched all weekend since no injury report ever mentioned him. Todd from TCT has more on that here. He was joined in street clothes by Josh Turnbull, allowing Tom Bardis and Chris Hickey to make their debuts. If you follow the team close enough, you saw this coming for both players, and I was surprised it didn’t happen sooner for Turnbull.

Outside of decent production on the PP (1-4-5), Davies hasn’t shown the same level of effort on 5x5 play where the whole team struggled early in the season and is steadily improving upon each weekend.

Turnbull returned to the lineup in Duluth this past weekend, but Davies didn’t even make the trip to the North Shore. Chuck had some good thoughts about this when he posted the lines last Friday. I’m in agreement that one weekend should have been a good lesson for Davies, but apparently Coach Eaves was of a different opinion. One thing we as fans don’t have access to is practice, and we have no way to measure the type of effort that a player gives during those sessions. Though hard work in practice hasn’t always translated into playing time during the Eaves era, otherwise Tom Gorowsky wouldn’t be this late “surprise” this season, since he is widely acknowledged by his teammates as one of the hardest workers on the team. Perhaps Davies didn’t get the message and went through the motions last week in practice earning his banishment to Madison while the team traveled.

Eaves had the following to say from the TCT article:

"It's a pretty interesting spot for young Michael right now," Eaves said. "I think for the first time in his life he's reevaluating where his talents are and where he needs to improve.

"First of all, not playing him in a couple of games and then not taking him on the road trip, it's something that he's looking himself in the mirror and asking himself, 'OK, what am I going to do about this situation now?' I'm sure Michael will respond the right way and be back in the lineup sooner than later."

Before the season started, I polled on which junior forward was going to make the biggest impact on the team. In a close race, Michael Davies tied for 2nd w/ John Mitchell behind Ben Grotting (though I think there was some voter fraud there). As fans we were expecting a lot out of him this season, and 12 games in there is rampant disappointment.

Davies looked good early in the season, I even remember him working in the corner for the puck and hitting people, things I had rarely seen in the past two seasons. Much like last season though, Davies wasn’t finishing on the PP. Despite his decent PP stats, he could easily have 3 more goals if he finished off a few plays.

I was pretty high on Michael coming into this season, I really want to see him succeed and become a 20 goal player. My thoughts from player previews:

07/08 Recap: Michael tied for the team lead in goals last season w/ 13, and led the team in PP goals (7) and shooting percentage (15.1%). There is no doubt that Michael had another good offensive season for the Badgers. His game also grew on the defensive side of the puck, and was much improved over his freshman season, where it often appears he was just out there for the offensive side of things, but he still has room to improve. Michael still doesn't appear to give it his all every shift, something Coach Eaves noticed which led one series to a saturday benching.

08/09 Thoughts: While it sounds like I'm being pretty hard on Michael in my recap, its because I think he could do a lot more for the Badgers if he put his all into every shift. Afterall, the name of the blog is 60 minutes, no alibis, no regrets. Along w/ Blake Geoffrion and Ben Street, Michael is our other top returning offensive threat. If he works to make more of his opportunities in the offensive end, and bury a few more shots, he could have a big season. The right combination on the PP w/ Michael could produce a rather potent unit, something the Badger's PP rarely sees. The following prediction could be low if he raises his game to another level this season, both on offense and defense.

Prediction: 35 games, 16-10-26

While the 2nd PP unit featuring 3 blue liners was decent against Tech, they looked horrible against Duluth. The PP needs Michael Davies, and Michael Davies needs to be on the PP. It appears the puck is on his stick now to get back out onto the ice and make us all proud. It will be interesting to see who travels to St. Cloud and who finds their way into the lineup on friday.