Chat: Inside College Hockey
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Joe Gladziszewski (2:00 PM)
Welcome to another chat with Inside College Hockey, as we take questions for the next 30 minutes.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:01 PM)
We'll start with a question on Miami and Michigan State, as they get the weekend's marquee series started up tonight in East Lansing ...
Mandy (Sterling, VA)
How significant is the return of Nathan Davis to Miami? Who will be the star of the Miami-MSU series -- Davis, Kennedy, or "other?"
Joe Gladziszewski (2:04 PM)
It's not that Miami was playing poorly (undefeated) while Davis was out, but adding a player with his ability will certainly help the RedHawks. He's got such a complete game in all three zones, and he's experienced. I expect these two games against Michigan State to be played at a level that we might see in March rather than mid-November. For this weekend's impact players ... look at the goal crease. The teams are evenly matched ... Lerg or Zatkoff is the answer.
Justin H (Denver, CO)
Of those who left college early since the NHL Lockout, which one has the most promising career ahead of them?
Jess Myers (2:06 PM)
A question like this, coming from Denver, clearly makes one think of Paul Stastny, and the stuff he's done for the Avs this year has been amazing. I'd put him up there with Jonathan Toews (a budding star on a rising young team) and Erik Johnson (who has the tools to play NHL hockey for a long time) on the list of ex-collegians most likely to succeed at the pro level.
Is the Cornell v. Harvard game the biggest one in the ECAC this weekend?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:08 PM)
Absolutely. Both teams responded from splits on the opening weekend to get four league points last weekend, and now sit tied for second behind Clarkson. While the rivalry aspect may be greater for Cornell than Harvard, the hockey aspect is very important to both teams. It's a good test as to which team has the early advantage in the league standings. With only 22 league games in a year, it's more important for Harvard to get the win on home ice, I think, as going to Lynah later this season won't be easy. It's a tough place to get a win.
Andy (Minneapolis, MN)
Please tell me that my Gophers will right the ship and compete for the WCHA and National Championship. As if the football team isn't enough now the Hockey team looks like it may be on the downswing.
Jess Myers (2:10 PM)
Let me give you the political answer and talk out of both sides of the mouth here: Yes, your Gophers will right the ship (they're not as bad as their 0-4-0 WCHA start indicated) and no, they will not seriously compete for the WCHA and NCAA titles (the top three or four teams in the conference are that much better than Minnesota). Simply put, this is shaping up to be a down year, by Minnesota's high standards, which means finishing somewhere between fourth- and sixth-place in the league. Take solace in the fact that a down year by the standards of most other WCHA teams means an eighth- to 10th-place finish.
Justin H (Denver, CO)
Will the NCAA adopt the NHL rules with smaller goalie pads and the delay of game zone for the goalie behind the net?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:12 PM)
The NCAA has already adopted standards for goaltending equipment. I haven't heard of any discussion regarding the trapezoid area behind the net. I don't know that it would make such an impact on college hockey.
Joe (Rt. 11)
Is it a fair to say that hockey in the EAST (ECACH and HE) is about parody while the CCHA and WCHA are about the Have's and Have Not's -- given this apparent disparity how will the parody in the East affect the NCAA Tourney down the line -- in your Power Rankings there are three East teams in the top 10 (UNH, Clarkson & BC) and 5 in the MAGIC top 16... if the tourney started today it would feature 11 CCHA/WCHA Schools -- is the system broken?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:15 PM)
Don't be confused by the national rankings and the NCAA Tournament selection. So far, it's been a strong year for the top four of the CCHA and there have been some surprises in the middle of the pack in the WCHA. Eastern schools will get their bids, but perhaps not as many as in recent seasons. There are a lot of intersectional games coming up between now and Jan. 1, where Eastern teams can help their Ratings Percentage Index by winning against non-conference schools.
Mark (Denver, CO)
Who is the best team in the WCHA to this point and who do you see winning the Conference in the end? And which Conference in college hockey has the most depth?
Jess Myers (2:17 PM)
Another political answer: I think North Dakota has the most talent in the WCHA, but right now Denver is playing the best team hockey, which means that the Pioneers are the best team to this point, and I still see the Fighting Sioux ending up with the MacNaughton Cup in March.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:18 PM)
For depth from top-to-bottom, it's the WCHA. There are no "easy" games there. For the most elite programs, it's the CCHA, as Michigan, Miami, Michigan State, and Notre Dame are legitimate Frozen Four contenders.
Is Kyle Okposo struggling or are teams just focusing all their attention on him?
Jess Myers (2:19 PM)
Okposo is definitnely struggling, although he had a nice series last weekend versus Minnesota State. He has been the foucs of some opposing team attention, although it's rare to see him shadowed in the manner that teams used to hang on every move a player like Dany Heatley made on the ice for Wisconsin.
Adam Berger (Burlington, VT)
After last weekends Hockey East games, with many upsets, has the bottom half of the league caught up to the top of the pack, or was it just an upset weekend?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:22 PM)
I think it was more an upset weekend than an indication of a power shift. And, I'm not sure that there were any true upsets, other than the Providence sweep at Maine. Our Hockey East writer, Jeff Howe, will have more on the Friars this week in our INCH Notebooks, which will be posted later tonight.
Can Michigan Tech continue to stay near the top of the WCHA?
Jess Myers (2:23 PM)
Yes, but it's going to take a continued strong effort by the defensive unit. The Huskies simply do not have the offensive depth of teams like North Dakota, Denver, and Wisconsin, so they're going to need to win 2-1 games. But their defense and goaltending has proven itself to be among the nation's best, so I see the Huskies staying in the hunt for home ice well into February.
Matt (Watertown, NY)
What's the outlook for Clarkson this year? My dad graduated from there, and he keeps talking about how amazing they are.. kinda puts me to sleep...
Joe Gladziszewski (2:25 PM)
Don't fall asleep on the Knights ... Clarkson alums are very proud of their hockey program. They are very good, and a clear-cut favorite to win ECAC Hockey. The next 6-8 weeks will give us a great indication as to how they stack up nationally, with a pair of home games coming up against St. Cloud State, and a home game against Boston College in early January. The Knights are also heading to Florida where they'll face Maine in a holiday tournament.
Which North Dakota team is real? The one that explodes on a night or the team that barely avoids getting shut out
Jess Myers (2:27 PM)
Wow, are we sure this question isn't a year old? Flash back to this time in 2006 and we were asking similar things about a talented North Dakota club that spent three months searching for an identity, before kicking it into high gear. In the long run, the Sioux have the talent to assert themselves as the best team in the conference, and possibly in the nation. Maybe this October/November/December malaise is just something Sioux fans are going to have to get used to. Anyone from the Red River Valley knows there are always cold and depressing days in winter, before the warmth and bright sunshine of spring comes along.
John (Braintree, MA)
After northeastern's three point weekend with a late thrid period tie to BU can we now say that they are ready to contend in the hockey east? Or is their defense too young, ie the mistake that gave BU's Ewing the puck in the slot for the game tieing goal on saturday?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:29 PM)
We've touted Northeastern's potential all year, but there is a process that transforms teams from also-rans to contenders. Mistakes will happen, and you have to hope that when those situations arise later in the season, players will execute better or make better decisions. It's also why you see some teams have to go through losing in the playoffs before they can win in the postseason.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:30 PM)
Thanks for all the questions, as always. We appreciate your participation and love taking a pulse of what's going on around the nation. Inside College Hockey will have its full slate of conference notebooks later tonight. Also be sure to check out the latest Hobey Tracker.