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December 08, 2005 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-12-08

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10A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, December 8, 2005
" ~ n
Four-gam--e losing streak
shns liht on 'M' troubles w4

By Mark Giannotto
Daily Sports Writer
In any sport, losing streaks bring deficiencies to the fore-
front. The four-game losing streak that the Michigan hockey
team is currently enduring is no different.
Through nine games this season, Michigan was averaging
a robust 4.56 goals per game, with the power play clicking
at an impressive clip of 33 percent. In the six contests since
then, the Wolverines are averaging just 2.83 goals per game,
and the power play has come back to earth. Since that ninth
game, Michigan has been converting on the power play just
14 percent of the time: It's no coincidence that the team has
lost four of those six matchups.
"We've got to be willing to battle" Michigan coach Red
Berenson said. "There's been a lot of rebounds the past four
or five games that we didn't get. We have to be willing to bat-
tle for those loose pucks, win those races to those pucks, and,
when we start doing that, the puck starts going in the net."
But the offensive difficulties go deeper than simply bat-
tling for rebounds in front of the net. Because the power play
was so successful in the beginning of the year,; it overshad-
owed the fact that the Wolverines were having trouble scor-
ing at even strength.
During the first nine games, Michigan scored 24 of its 41
goals on the power play for an average of 2.67 power play
goals per game. In their last six contests, the Wolverines have
only notched seven power play goals for an average of 1.167
power play goals per game. During this six-game span, the
team has scored just 17 goals total.
Berenson thinks the team's inability to score at full strength
is due to the number of penalties that have been called in
Michigan's games this season.
"I think (the penalties) are affecting the outcome of the
game," Berenson said. "No one on our team plays more than
12 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey. The average player is playing
seven minutes."

Looking even deeper into the Wolverines' offensive woes,
there is another statistic that is even more puzzling. Without
T.J. Hensick's four goals over that six game period. Michigan
forwards have managed just 10 goals, for an average of 1.67
goals per game.
With so many freshmen coming into the program, Michi-
gan was looking for an increase in production from some of
its role players from last season. Forwards like Chad Kolarik
and Brandon Kaleniecki were expected to shoulder more of
the scoring burden.
Compared to the 2004-05 season through 14 games,
Kolarik has one fewer goal than last year. Kaleniecki has
notched just one more goal but has one less point.
"We have players who aren't playing to the level they are
capable of," Berenson said. "So (the) challenge for our whole
team, starting with our upperclassmen, is: Are you playing as
well as you need to play for this team to do well?"
Before last weekend's series against Miami (Ohio), the
Michigan coaching staff tinkered with the offensive lines in
order to spark the team. But with just five goals in the two
games, they seem to have had very little effect in altering the
scoring drought.
"I don't know if (the line changes) helped us or hurt us,"
sophomore Kevin Porter said. "We're just not clicking right
now, and we aren't getting the bounces that we usually get."
The scoring issues have also coincided with a partic-
ularly difficult stretch in Michigan's schedule. Over the
past four games, the Wolverines have faced three teams
that are currently in the top 10, including Wisconsin and
Miami - currently ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the coun-
try, respectively. Michigan begins the bulk of its CCHA
competition in the coming weeks, so there are more tough
weekends ahead.
"You don't teach offense, you don't preach offense, but
offense happens when you are working hard and playing
well," Berenson said. "That means we're not working as hard
or playing as well as we should be."

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STEVEN TAI/ Daily

Senior Brandon Kalenleckl and the Wolverines have struggled with offensive production recently.

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