Friday, November 5, 2010

Border Battle Preview: Gophers vs. Badgers

This weekend's series pits the Minnesota Gophers (5-3-0 Overall, 3-3-0 WCHA) against the Wisconsin Badgers (5-2-1 Overall, 2-1-1 WCHA) in a classic matchup of powerhouse teams. The two teams have 11 national championships between them, and both have a history of playing great hockey. The Gophers lead the all-time series 153-84-18, and Minnesota also leads the series 15-11-4 since the beginning of the 2003-2004.

Under head coach Mike Eaves, the Badgers always play good defense. This year is no exception. Despite losing three key defensemen in Ryan McDonagh, Brendan Smith and Cody Goloubef from last year's squad, the Badgers are still playing solid team defense. Wisconsin is giving up only 1.9 goals per game, and is scoring just under 4.3 per game. Their two losses on the year were in the first game of the year against a good Boston University team and at Denver. Wisconsin is coming off a home sweep of Michigan Tech. Prior to that series, the team lost and tied at Denver.

As we well know, the Gophers are a team with a high-octane offense thus far. They seem to be adept at scoring goals and not so good at preventing opposing teams from scoring. The Gophers score 4.1 goals per game and give up 3.4. Minnesota is on a three-game winning streak, with a good win over St. Cloud State prior to a dismantling sweep of Colorado College. The Gophers should have tons of momentum heading into this series.

This game should be a clash of coaching schemes. Can the run-and-gun offense of Minnesota break through the defensive wall of the Wisconsin defense, or does Wisconsin's stifling neutral-zone trap keep the Gophers off the board?

As always, the Minnesota-Wisconsin series should be a good one. It will be played with high energy and high emotion, and if either team comes out of this series with more than two points it could be a launching point into the rest of the season.

See you at the rink!

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