Series Preview: Penn State vs. Michigan State
Host Kyle Cannillo and analysts Jordan Mansberger and Jordan Hession break down a critical series as Penn State takes on Michigan State this weekend:
The 6-1-0 Nittany Lions come into a weekend matchup against the 2-4-0 Michigan State Spartans looking to continue the roll they're on. Penn State is coming off an impressive sweep of Wisconsin that resulted in them jumping all the way up to sixth in the national polls.
The Nittany Lions seemed to find their stride offensively, and the line that of Folkes, Barratt, and Limoges seemed to start clicking as well. They had one goal on Saturday and other good scoring chances as well. This line coming together and fulfilling its potential of being a top line in college hockey could put the Penn State offense into historic levels of unstoppability.
One of the keys for Penn State this weekend will be to keep up the offensive pressure. They put up 10 goals last weekend against a Wisconsin team that boasts five defensemen that have been drafted. If Penn State can continue to score at that rate they will simply “out offense” the Spartans, who are only averaging 2.5 goals per game so far this season.
Penn State, however, will have to be more disciplined and stay out of the penalty box. The Nittany Lions took 16 penalties last weekend, which resulted in eight power plays for Wisconsin. Michigan State’s offense has scored seven of their 15 goals this season while on the power play, so if Penn State can stay away from the penalty kill, they will have the best chance to keep MSU off the board.
Michigan State has struggled to find consistency in net this year as well. John Lethemon played both games against fourth-ranked Cornell last weekend and did not play poorly. In game two, he came in after Drew DeRidder let up four goals. Lethemon has a .918 save percentage and 2.69 GAA. Both of these are solid numbers, but with the rate at which Penn State shoots, even a save percentage that high could result in a four or five goal night for the Nittany Lions.
DeRidder, on the other hand, has struggled this year going 0-3 with a .866 save percentage and 3.46 GAA. If the Spartans decide to have each goalie play one game (which is what they have done all season), Penn State should see offensive success against DeRidder, and could still succeed against Lethemon despite him being the better of the two goalies.
Overall, Penn State is the better team this weekend and should sweep Michigan State in this Big Ten series. The Nittany Lions have looked very solid offensively this season, aside from the shutout loss to Alaska-Fairbanks, and Peyton Jones seems to have taken his game to another level this year. He is 6-0 with a .947 save percentage and a 1.67 GAA. He should continue to dominate against a Michigan State team that has struggled offensively this season.
Look for the Nittany Lions defense to continue playing solid and the offense to light up the scoreboard this weekend.
Prediction: Penn State sweeps 2-0
Game 1: Penn State 4, Michigan State 1
Game 2: Penn State 3, Michigan State 2
Zech Lambert is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.