Monday, November 22, 2010

Can This Team Score a $@!&%# Goal in OT!!!

When will the misery end! That really isn’t a question for a Badger fan at this point, it might have been two seasons ago when we shook our heads during three OT defeats and four ties, but at this point it is an old storyline that needs some concrete shoes and a river to be thrown into.

Taking a step back for a second, at 6-6-2, the team isn’t that far off from where I thought they would be at this point in the season. To be honest, I thought around 7-5-2 would be a great start for this freshman laden team; I just didn’t expect the Badgers to arrive at 6-6-2 in the manner they did. They’ve had a tough schedule, @ Denver and minnesota, while hosting two of the best teams in the country in Duluth and North Dakota. A combined 1-5-2 against those four is not good enough though, and “being right in the games” w/ the top dogs is great, but when a team gets swept at home on consecutive weekends that is little consolation. Losing a bunch of one goal games still count as losses in the PWR and the WCHA standings, there is no such thing yet as a “quality loss.”

This is re-hashing history, but the last OT winner was off of Ben Street’s stick in the 3rd place game of the Final Five on March 17, 2007. That was Brian Elliott’s last game as a Badger to put things in perspective. For some more perspective, there is not a single player on this team who has won an OT game as a Badger. This really doesn’t seem so complicated to me, in 25 games in 3+ seasons, not ONCE can the Badgers come out on top in the extra 5 minutes?

As Chuck pointed out, the Badgers are 0-8-17 during that time span, which is 1,346 days by my count. Though to be fair, they didn’t play another OT game until November 24, 2007 when they tied at Michigan State during the College Hockey Showcase. Either way you look at it OT Futility has been rocking out in Madison for at least 1,094 days. Think of all the things that have happened during that 3 year time span, just in Badger hockey history, but no OT victory to speak of.

On top of that, of the Badgers eight losses in OT, SEVEN of them have occurred at the Kohl Center. This isn’t a team losing on the road in OT to good opponents, this is a team losing at home in front of the supporting crowd. I should qualify that, one OT loss was in the Regional Final against North Dakota in 2008, while at the Kohl Center it theoretically wasn’t a home game. Six is bad enough. In 2008-09, the Badgers blew big leads against North Michigan and Denver at home to lose in OT. If you recall that was the season the Badgers were the first team out by 0.0006 (or something close to that) pts behind Ohio State. Blowing big leads was bad enough, but turn one of those games into a tie even, and the Badgers make the post season.

I did a little research this morning, and looked up the rest of the WCHA during the same 3+ season time span of Badger OT Futility. The next longest streak is minnesota who last won a game in OT on January 3, 2009. That is “approaching” two years, but goldy has a lot of futility to do to catch up, though tDon has them pointed in the right direction these days. The following is the breakdown of each team’s OT record from 2007/08 thru today, w/ this year’s record in ( ). I included UNO and Bemidji even though they were in different (lesser) conferences, but they still found a way to win in OT.

UAA 3-4-16 (1-1-2) 0.478

Bemidji 7-3-9 (1-1-1) 0.605

CC 5-7-15 (0-0-1) 0.463

Denver 4-2-12 (0-0-2) 0.556

Tech 4-3-15 (1-0-2) 0.523

minnesota 4-6-19 (0-0-1) 0.466

Duluth 13-2-17 (5-0-2) 0.672

Mankato 5-8-17 (0-0-4) 0.450

Nebraska-Omaha 5-5-20 (0-0-1) 0.500

North Dakota 7-4-13 (0-1-1) 0.563

St Cloud 4-5-16 (0-2-2) 0.480

Wisconsin 0-8-17 (0-2-2) 0.340

Those stats are just AMAZING to me. The dregs of the WCHA have found ways to win a few in OT in the past 3+ seasons. The Badgers record is so far behind everyone else. Duluth’s 13 OT wins is impressive, they have played the most games in OT during this time span, and won the most and lost the least.

To some this post might be rubbing salt into the wound, but the Badgers have a serious problem. If your friend had an addiction to smoking crack, would you just ignore it because it wasn’t enjoyable to think about or confront? Last season, this wasn’t much of a concern, because the Hobey Baker led Badgers didn’t need OT to win games, they handled opponents all but four times in regulation (w/ a few L’s thrown in there). But this year’s Badger picked up where they left off in 2008/09. Someone left a comment saying this team’s problem might be that they don’t play to win in OT, and I’d further say that this happens in regulation at times, not so much this season, but I’ve seen it in the past. The Badgers might not be the most gifted offensive team this season, but they are far from talentless. They have a strong top line, and then two lines that pitch in some offense to help the team succeed. Some of the freshmen are developing into guys who are going to make the WCHA weep in coming seasons.

Right now this is a huge monkey on the team’s back. They’ve been close in several games, having some nice chances on Friday night to win early in OT (not to mention being f***ed by the refs), but they just need to find a way to win; not play to settle for a tie and one point in the standings. This team is better than that, the teams the last three seasons were better than this. The next time I write about OT Futility, I want it to be a celebration of its much needed death.