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Men’s Hockey: The season (so far) by the numbers

After a 1-7-2 start to the season, things were not looking good for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team.

But, weeks later, the Badgers are enjoying a new sense of hope brought about by what was, at the time, a seemingly unlikely 10-game unbeaten streak, a run that began in an unlikely place- on the road at then No. 5 Denver.

A closer look at the numbers reveals something that got lost in the shuffle of the early season struggles. The fact is, despite a dismal start, Wisconsin was actually pretty close to being in a much better position after the opening 10 games of the campaign. Five of UW’s first seven losses were by two goals or less.

…more after jump…

Though the win/loss column may have suggested otherwise, it probably wasn’t going to take a major adjustment for the Badgers to get on track.

So, if you are looking for a drastic improvement in a variety of statistical categories, keep searching. Points may be coming easier to the Cardinal and White these days, but this change of course was made through minor improvements in a few key areas.

First 10 games

 

Now

1.8

Goals/game

2.3

25.6

Shots/game

27.7

12.5 % (4-32)

Power Play percentage

10% (6-60)

5.8

Penalties/game

5.7

14.9

Penalty minutes/game

13.5

76.5%

Penalty Kill percentage

82.7

2.9

Opponent goals/game

2.2

30.3

Opponent shots/game

28.4

 

As the statistics show, there is still room for improvement, a scary proposition for teams that have to face a squad that is 7-0-3 in its last 10.

First and foremost, the power play output (or lack thereof) continues to be an Achilles heel for this club. In fact, their conversion percentage has actually been lower during the streak than it was in the games previous.

Next up is the issue of shots. UW has been generating more shots during this recent run and, while they have reduced the amount of shots they have given up per game, they are still being out-shot on average this season.

On a positive note the Badgers’ offense is starting to click, at least somewhat. Wisconsin is now averaging 2.3 goals per game on the season on 27.7 shots per contest, both increases since the first stretch of the year.

The penalty kill is probably the area of the most marked improvement. The PK unit is now staving off 82.7 percent of penalties on the year, as opposed to the 76.5 percent earlier in the season.

Opponents have also been scoring fewer goals as of late. Opposing teams averaged 2.9 goals per game against the Badgers in the first 10 games of the season, during the last 10 games, they have averaged just 1.4.

The counterargument that the Badgers’ success has come against competition of a lesser caliber has some merit. Wisconsin’s opponents during the first 10 games of the campaign currently hold a 57-44-14 record, while the teams they have faced during the unbeaten streak have compiled a 39-56-14 mark. With that being said, UW can silence some naysayers with a solid showing against No.8 Miami (OH) at home this weekend.

Now, the hot topic is the odds of this run continuing or, at the very least, the chances that the Badgers will put up a better performance in the latter portion of the year.

While few are expecting Wisconsin to remain unbeaten for the rest of the season, a more spirited showing down the stretch is not an unreasonable request.

Improving a 2-4-2 record at home should be one of the top priorities, especially considering that the 6-1-3 mark on the road is likely not indicative what is to come for this team away from the Kohl Center.

Of the 16 games that are still on the docket, the Badgers have just two true road trips remaining, one to North Dakota and one to Nebraska-Omaha. They have nine games left at the Kohl Center and a “home” series against St. Cloud State at Veterans Memorial Coliseum to round out the year. The combined record of the remaining foes currently sits at 70-66-16.

As exciting as the last few weeks have been, with over one third of the season yet to be played, the Badgers must prove that their new found identity is a true reflection of their ability.

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