Sunday, February 1, 2009

Putting together a complete series

The Badgers have lost their last 4 Saturday home games at the KC, with 3 of those losses following Friday night wins. And we might as well count the Sunday tie v. Lake State at the Badger Hockey Showdown as part of the trend of the Badgers' winning the 1st night of a series but not being able to pull off a win the next night. During the 2nd-half of the season, the only time that the Badgers have won the 2nd game of a series was 1/10/09 @ UAA in their only road series of the 2nd-half.

Here a few applicable quotes and excerpts from today's game stories:
  • Eaves wondered aloud Saturday where his team goes between Friday and Saturday.
  • "We asked ourselves the hard questions -- are we in shape? And to a man, they all think we are," Eaves said. "But where's that same energy that we have Friday and that edge that we have? I'm just not sure where it is right now. So we have to solve that."
  • “We just haven’t been able to put together a good Saturday night after a Friday,” Gorowsky said. “If we want to be a championship caliber team, we’ve got to play at least two games in a row, if not three. We need to find a way to get energized for Friday and Saturday.”
Now, the Badgers haven't been losing on Saturdays the whole season. Prior to the Sunday tie v. Lake State, the Badgers hadn't lost or tied the 2nd game of a series since 10/25/08 v. Minnesota, the 3rd series of the season.

But the general feeling the season (for me anyway) has been that the Badgers have struggled to put whole weekends together, as I remember thinking on multiple occasions that the saying should go "120 minutes, no alibis, no regrets". And lately the trend has been that the Badgers have been playing well on Fridays and not-so-well on Saturdays.

The Friday part of this trend is good -- it's nice to see the boys come into the weekend ready to play, especially given that this had been a problem to start out the season. But it's troubling that they can't carry the momentum throughout the weekend. And it's troubling for 2 reasons:
  1. You can't make it through the playoffs if you lose every other game, because (to state the obvious) once you get to the Final Five and the NCAA playoffs, you're out as soon as you lose.

  2. With their current position in the PWR, the Badgers aren't going to make the NCAA playoffs if they lose every other game, as Todd nicely points out:
How many more chances are the Badgers going to get this season? Time is running out, and while third place in the WCHA doesn't look bad, the real story is that they're back down to a tie for 18th in the PairWise. Win one, lose one isn't going to get the Badgers in the NCAA tournament.

You might not remember, but during Andy Bohmbach Week we asked Andy if he had anything else he'd like to share with Badger Fans. Here's what he said:
I want to end on one last note: our goal is to win the national title and bring it back to Madison. " On Wisconsin!"
If the Badgers are going to be a championship team, or at least a championship-caliber team to use Tom Gorowsky's words above, they need to find a way to win at least a couple games in a row. I firmly believe they have the ability to do so, but I'm not completely convinced that they will actually do so. (Which leaves me with an ambiguous feeling that makes me feel uneasy as it's out of character for me.) Because, honestly, how are you going to advance through the NCAA playoffs if you can't win 2 games in a row and don't win the games that you should win, ie last night's game v. Duluth. (Because, honestly, the Badgers should have been able to win that game.)

The Badgers have some tough series coming up: @ Minnesota (yeah, they've had problems lately, but they're still Minnesota), @ Mankato (always a tough road series for the Badgers, they seem to have our number in Mankato), Denver (#1 team in the WCHA), and UND (who typically seem to play really well at the end of each season).

Hopefully we'll see the Badgers emerge during these series as the team that they have the ability to be, rather than the team we've seen on Saturday nights of late. They need to carry Friday's energy and resiliency into Saturday. I believe they can do it. Who's with me?