1. The Nittany Lions can play with the Wolverines.
Penn State has two wins in Big Ten play, both at the expense of Michigan. Friday night’s 5-4 overtime win in Yost brought PSU’s record against Michigan to 2-2-0 this season — impressive, especially since that second win was a come-from-behind victory. In both Friday’s win and Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Wolverines, one thing impressed me more than anything else about the Nittany Lions, and that was the play of sophomore goaltender Matthew Skoff. Although his numbers aren’t spectacular (3.16 GAA, .899 save percentage), Skoff consistently makes the saves he needs to make and gives PSU a chance in every game. He was replaced in Saturday’s game by PJ Musico after Michigan’s fourth goal, but that, said coach Guy Gadowsky, was more a matter of shaking things up for the team in front of Skoff as well as giving Musico a chance to play in Yost.
2. The Wolverines may finally know how to regroup.
After Friday’s loss to Penn State, Michigan as a team — to a player — said it was embarrassed in its own barn. Coach Red Berenson sat out several key players for Saturday’s contest, including the team’s third-highest scoring player, junior Alex Guptill, who had a goal in Friday’s 5-4 loss. It was made known to me before the game that every Michigan scratch that night was a healthy scratch. The result was a team effort the likes of which the Wolverines haven’t displayed in weeks. The 5-2 score doesn’t indicate how lopsided the game was. The Wolverines dominated, holding Penn State — a team that shoots from everywhere, at any time — to just 20 shots on net.
3. Wisconsin is a team that knows the value of a good home stretch.
In sweeping Michigan State, Wisconsin improved its home record to 17-2-1 — the Badgers’ best home record in the Kohl Center era — and moved to within one point of first-place Minnesota in the Big Ten standings. The Badgers are 8-3-1 in Big Ten play in the second half of the season. Wisconsin beat Michigan State 5-2 and 2-0. Saturday was the 10th career shutout for Joel Rumpel, the third of the season.