Thats right, the University of North Dakota and their traveling band of racists visit the the University of Minnesota for a weekend series in the WCHA. Both games are at 7 PM this weekend.
If you read the paper and look at the college hockey polls you will be led to believe the North Dakota is coming into this series red hot. They have recently been ranked #3 in the country which is comical seen as how they are the 3rd best team in the WCHA. UND is also riding a 7 game win streak, which is impressive, but those 7 wins have come against the 3 teams tied for 7th place in the WCHA and the last place team in the WCHA. Like I said, a seven game win streak is always impressive, but beating up on a bunch of cupcakes rockets your team to a #3 ranking in the country??? WWWWWWWWWWW, this would be similar to the Gophers football team being ranked #3 in the counrty after the first four games each year during the Mason era.
The Sioux's top line is always a concern. The Gophers must keep them off the scoreboard like they did a few weeks ago in Grand Forks. If North Dakota has to rely on their #2 and #3 lines the gophers will keep the games close and have a shot to steal a game or two. As always TJ Oshie will be hot!
North Dakota's defense has stepped up its play in the past couple of weeks and that has been the biggest reason for their 7 game win streak. The Sioux have only surrendered more than 1 goal once in their past 6 games. No matter how pathetic the competition, that is an impressive streak. Hopefully the Gophers can open up a lead each game and make the Sioux open up their play a bit more. If the Sioux can sit back the Gophers will only muster their normal 1-2 goals per game.
As stated above, the biggest concern for the gophers this weekend will be generating goals. The gophers actually looked dominate last saturday vs Wisconsin but could only muster two goals and had to settle for a tie in a game they should have won going away. The Gophers must find a way to score 3 to 4 goals minimum in both games if they want to have any chance at gaining points this weekend. As usual, North Dakota leads the WCHA in penalty minutes, but Gophers PP is so pathetic this season that they most likely won't take advantage of it.
Lucia did reunite several lines last weekend and it seemed to spark the level of play (still didn't lead to more goals though). Barriball is back on the top line with Wheeler and Gordon. Carman, Flynn and Lucia are on the 2nd line and Howe, Hueffel and White have been reunited on the 3rd line. The Howe line totally dominated the Sioux back in December. Much of the same will be needed this weekend for the gophers win as the lower lines will most likely determine how(e) this weekend goes.
As much as it pains me to say this, I see a tie and a loss for the Gophers this weekend. Friday night 3-3 tie and Saturday 5-2 loss. Either way the Sioux will leave Minnesota as a bunch of Criminal Racists and still suck.
**Dawg will be writing up a review of Fridays game as he will be taking the game in live from Mariucci. Look for that early next week. Dawg, will you be wearing a #95 gophers jersey?**