Big Ten Men’s Hockey Season Outlook

Story posted December 1, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Joseph Esquivel-Murphy

As conference play starts, teams across the Big Ten are getting ready for the physical grind that conference play beckons. This year, the Big Ten is filled with numerous good teams that will compete for the title.

Currently, the No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions are atop the Big Ten standings as they had the best non-conference schedule, only losing one game in 13 tries. While Penn State had a fairly easy non-conference schedule, the Nittany Lions were completely dominant, winning 11 games including an overtime victory against Notre Dame.

Offense has been the reason the Nittany Lions have succeeded thus far as they have scored at least three goals in every game this season. Currently, nine players have scored at least 10 points this season, giving the Nittany Lions a dangerous, balanced attack that should give their next opponent (Michigan) some problems.

The Wolverines have had their struggles in the non-conference schedule as they lost five games. While the number of losses is pretty high, Michigan did knock off highly ranked Boston University, showing the Wolverines can play with the best teams in the nation.

The offense for the Wolverines has been sporadic as they are capable of scoring goals in bunches, but can struggle to score when their first line isn’t producing. Michigan will need to score a ton of goals this weekend if they want to beat the high-powered attack of Penn State.

The Ohio State Buckeyes have enjoyed success during the non-conference, as they had the second best record in the conference. While the Buckeyes have not played a challenging schedule, the roster is full of young players and the early success bodes well for conference play.

Ohio State boasts one of the best players in the conference in Tanner Laczynski, but how he will fare in conference play is to be determined. His first test is on the road against perennial powerhouse Minnesota.

To say the non-conference has gone well for the Golden Gophers is an overstatement as they only won six games in 12 attempts. Their schedule was not very kind to them though, because they had numerous home-and-home with a couple of teams from Minnesota.

Their rough start should not concern Golden Gopher fans as they play significantly better as the season progresses. Their first big test is against Ohio State, who got off to a great start in the non-conference and are looking to improve from their performance last season.

Wisconsin has played well during the non-conference, winning seven games during the non-conference, but need to improve their goaltending if they want to succeed in the conference. The 39 goals they have allowed thus far is tied for the worst in the conference with Michigan State.

The Badgers need to improve their defense to win in the conference as teams like Minnesota and Penn State will score too many goals for them to come back. The Big Ten is full of good teams, meaning conference play will be filled with numerous tight series throughout.

 

Joe Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email jje5139@psu.edu