1. Penn State really is that good.
The Nittany Lions completed their 10-game home stand by sweeping Michigan in the opening weekend of Big Ten play, 6-1 Thursday and 5-1 Friday. Penn State has one loss this season, and the wins against the Wolverines extended the Nittany Lions’ win streak to 11 games, their unbeaten streak to 13. PSU is still on top of Division I for offense, averaging 4.87 goals per game with a power play that converts at 22.7 percent for eighth best in the nation. PSU’s defense is third nationally, allowing 1.87 goals per game. And the Nittany Lions shoot the puck. Penn State had 106 shots on goal against Michigan in the two games. Guy Gadowsky has always coached his team to shoot at any time, from anywhere. These Nittany Lions, apparently, can score at any time, from anywhere.
2. Ohio State and Minnesota split, and that’s good.
Scoring three goals in a game often means being on the winning end of things, but not in the Ohio State-Minnesota series — not for each team each night, anyway. Both the Buckeyes and the Golden Gophers are also among the top 10 teams nationally in scoring, and each scored a mess of goals in Minneapolis. Minnesota beat Ohio State 5-3 Friday, and the Buckeyes returned the favor with an 8-3 win Saturday. The Buckeyes are second nationally in scoring offense (4.53) and the Gophers are 10th (3.57). Like the Nittany Lions, the Buckeyes are also deep offensively, with nine different players scoring in both games, seven in Saturday’s win. Why is this good? Because it’s a good indication that each of these teams are legitimately competitive this season — and that, along with Penn State’s continued level of play, may be a good indication that the Big Ten’s early, nonleague play may pay off come March.
3. Wisconsin is definitely better, and that is definitely good.
A 3-3 tie and 7-4 loss to Nebraska-Omaha is not necessarily a good weekend for Wisconsin, but relative to recent seasons, a tie against the Mavericks and an overall record of 7-6-1 heading into Big Ten play is definitely a good thing for the Badgers. What wasn’t so good is the way in which Wisconsin allowed Omaha to score in batches. In Friday’s 3-3 tie, the Mavericks led 3-1 at the end of one on two goals scored less than two minutes apart midway through the period plus another scored with less than two minutes before the period ended. Midway through the third period of Saturday’s game, the Badgers netted two of their own within two minutes — but the Mavericks responded with three goals scored between 12:14 and 17:10, then added an empty-net goal for good measure at 19:00. Still, Wisconsin battled back in that first game to overcome a two-goal deficit and take the game to OT.
Another good sign was Michigan State’s 5-1 exhibition win over the U.S. Developmental team Sunday. What’s looking decidedly bad is Michigan, with its 6-7-1 start to the season.