I don’t know what the weather’s like where you are, but we have a fresh coating of snow on the ground this morning in Flint, Mich. It’s beautiful, obviously wintry, and the hockey fan in me is thinking about the stretch of I-69 between here and East Lansing, because that’s where I’m headed tonight.
Yes, it’s all about hockey. I wish it were all about clairvoyance — or at least a little about clairvoyance. That would certainly help my picks percentage. Wow.
With a nod to the late, great Warren Zevon, it ain’t that pretty at all.
Last week: 4-5-1 (.450)
Season to date: 57-39-14 (.582)
I knew this sub-.500 week was coming.
Everyone’s in action this week with solid, comforting, two-game sets. All series are Friday-Saturday. All games begin at 7:05 p.m. local time except when noted.
Given my accuracy this season, I feel as though these picks should come with a disclaimer — and an apology to those for whom I’ve predicted victory.
BGSU at MSU. The Falcons were shut out twice at home last weekend, the first time that BG has been blanked in two games in the same weekend by a CCHA opponent. Andrew Hammond made 61 saves in the two games, the second of which saw him defending against the Alaska power play for 44 minutes. Meanwhile, the Spartans were busy defending the realm last weekend, winning and tying at home against Minnesota. That series earned Drew Palmisano Goaltender of the Week honors. The Falcons are the only opponent the Spartans swept last season, 2-1 and 2-0 wins in East Lansing, Feb. 25-26. Please don’t hate me come Sunday, Spartan fans. Saturday’s game begins at 6:05 p.m. Picks: MSU 3-2, 3-2
LSSU at OSU. The Lakers split at home with Notre Dame last weekend, losing 4-1 before winning 5-2. They were 3-for-4 on the power play against the Irish in the win, including Kellan Lain’s game winner at 2:08 in the second. The Buckeyes were off last weekend, last playing Nov. 18-19, when they swept Michigan in Ann Arbor. The last time these teams met was in the second weekend of the 2010-11 CCHA playoffs, when LSSU swept OSU in Sault Ste. Marie, 4-0 and 3-2. Three points separate the second-place Buckeyes and third-place Lakers. This series will probably split, but as OSU is unbeaten (8-0-1) in their last nine, I’m not calling against their streak. Sorry Buckeyes. It isn’t personal. Saturday’s game has an 8:05 p.m. start. Picks: OSU 3-2, 4-2
Miami at NMU. The RedHawks were also defending the realm last weekend, capturing the Denver Cup by beating Providence 6-2 and host Denver 4-2. Another team on an unbeaten streak (6-0-2), Miami saw a near-perfect November and lifted its record to above .500 with the win against Providence — an indication of just how far from perfect October was. The Wildcats last played Nov. 18-19, a home split with Michigan State (4-2 loss, 2-1 win). The Saturday win was the only one NMU tallied in November, a month in which the Wildcats went 1-3-2. The teams met early last season, an October weekend in which the RedHawks outscored the Wildcats 13-1, but NMU has a 16-7-1 record against Miami at home. Still, there’s that streak. I fully expect even more outraged email than usual from RedHawks fans, come Monday morning. Games begin at 7:35 p.m. both nights. Picks: Miami 3-2, 4-2
WMU vs. FSU. The Broncos are ready to win, because it’s been a little while. WMU has dropped four of its last five games, dating back to Nov. 5. The Broncos’ current streak is five winless (0-4-1), their last win a 3-2 victory against Michigan Nov. 4. They last played a Tuesday game against Notre Dame, the only tie, Nov. 22. The Bulldogs last played Nov. 18-19, a split in Fairbanks during which they mustered three goals. When these two teams met during the regular season in 2010-11, FSU earned four points with a 3-1 win and 2-2 tie in Big Rapids. The shootout following the tie went 14 rounds and gave the Broncos the extra point. They met again in Kalamazoo in the second round of the CCHA playoffs, with WMU capturing the series in three games. This home-and-home series has FSU hosting Friday, WMU Saturday. Picks: FSU 3-2, WMU 3-2
UM at UAF. Whither the Wolverines? Michigan extended its winless streak to six games with two nonconference home losses last weekend, 4-1 to Northeastern Friday and 6-3 to Union Sunday. I’ve been saying that the Wolverines seem to have lost their teeth, their passion, and junior Chris Brown’s remarks from last weekend echo that. “We can’t do anything different. It’s not the systems, it’s not our goalie, it’s not our defense, it’s not our forwards, it’s not coaching, it’s nothing — it’s just the will to want to win a game. And right now, we don’t have it.” That will make Michigan’s task in Alaska that much harder, because the Nanooks have had all the will in the world to win. Their season has been marked by plenty of one-goal games played with every bit of heart a team can muster. They were rewarded last weekend against Bowling Green with two shut outs, the second back-to-back shutouts of Scott Greenham’s career. UM was 3-1-0 against UAF last season, but the teams split in Fairbanks. Picks: UAF 3-2, UM 3-1
Northeastern at ND. Northeastern’s only game of last weekend was its 4-1 road win over Michigan, a game that extended its win streak to three. The Huskies are tied for fifth in Hockey East play with Massachusetts-Lowell and Providence, averaging 2.69 goals per game and allowing 2.77. Senior Steve Quailer (4-7–11) leads the team in points, but freshman Ludwig Karlsson (6-4–10) leads the Huskies in goals; junior Chris Rawlings (2.46 GAA, .930 SV%) has played most of Northeastern’s games. Last weekend, the Fighting Irish split with Lake Superior State on the road. Saturday’s 5-2 loss saw junior goaltender Mike Johnson’s personal-best 10-game unbeaten streak (7-0-3) come to an end. It’s been over a decade since these teams met; they split a series Oct. 20-21, 2000. Sorry, Irish. Picks: ND 3-2, 4-2