Monday, February 2, 2009

Badgers Beating Themselves

Yesterday 60 had a post w/ her thoughts about not being able to have a complete series and I wanted to add some thoughts to this, about the Wisconsin Badgers beating themselves and giving away games, especially the last three Saturdays at home.

Of the games I’ve seen in person this season, I’ve seen the Badgers give away four games that they should have won. I could probably argue three other games, but these are the most obvious. This has been a reoccurring problem for the Men’s team. Last season, there were at least eight games they tied or lost, which they should have won or tied. Sure every team has games they should have won, but the quantity of examples from the Badger Men’s team in the past few seasons is not acceptable.

Friday @ Denver – On the way back from vacation, I stopped at Magness to get a sneak peak of the Badgers in person before they came home for their first home series. Up 4-1, the Badgers proceed to blow it and lose 6-5. Denver was probably the better team that night (unlike my next examples), but a team shouldn’t be blowing a 3 goal lead half way through the game. It was tough to sit there and watch such horrible defense, as Connelly played quite well, and if he didn’t the Pioneers might have scored 10 goals.

Saturday vs N. Michigan – I don’t need to rehash this one too much. Another three goal lead w/ 12 minutes left in the game only to lose 6-5 in OT to an inferior team. Unlike the Denver game, Wisconsin was the superior team until they decided to go into the “prevent” defense and thought coasting to victory would be easy. After playing embarrassing hockey on Friday night, one would have thought they wouldn’t have taken the foot off the accelerator no matter what.

Saturday vs CC – Except for a three minute stretch where the team collapsed and a late goal which was the eventual game winner, Wisconsin was by far the better team against the Tigers. When the Badgers let their guard down bad things seem to happen, and happen quickly. I was not impressed w/ CC; Bachman is not the same as last season and their offense couldn’t generate much when Wisconsin wasn’t handing them chances.

Saturday vs Duluth – Same story, different series. Wisconsin is the better team almost all night, but can’t put away several good chances including an open net in the 1st period. Also similar to CC, Duluth capitalizes on a huge error by the Badgers and escaped town w/ 2 pts. Alex Stalock looks like a top goalie, not because he is, but because Wisconsin seems to have lost the ability to finish. How many chances did they blow Friday when they could have potentially notched 6+ goals on the Bulldogs? The best part for me, there is 12 minutes left after Duluth scores and it appeared the team went into panic mode.

The Denver game from October isn’t such a big deal, but the last three home Saturday games are. These games were handed to the opponents like a present at Christmas. Hats off to our opponents I suppose for making the most of Wisconsin’s mistakes, while Wisconsin seems less capable of doing the same.

While I don’t like to see the Badgers get beaten, if they are out played by our opponent, as fans we just have to suck it up. It’s a whole different story when the Badgers aren’t beaten by their opponent, but by themselves. In January, Wisconsin gave away 4 pts in the WCHA standings and three losses that are going haunt them in the Pairwise Rankings. Sweep CC and Duluth and the Badgers are in first, all but guaranteed some 1st round home ice. While the Badgers remain in 3rd place, they are only 3 pts from 6th and have arguably the hardest schedule remaining of any team in the WCHA. Those 4 pts would have been HUGE.

As 60 eluded to in her post, an NCAA bid is slowly evaporating as well. Sure ground can be made up w/ some solid performances in the four remaining series, but its not going to be easy. At the end of the season, if the Badgers are on the outside looking in at the NCAA, I don’t think the poor 0-6-1 start will be to blame, but beating themselves three consecutive Saturdays at home in January very well could.

I’m frustrated as a fan, but its time to put this aside. Its EVERYONE HATES mINNESTOA WEEK, time to get pumped up to stomp some gophers!