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UW capitalizes on power plays

first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoEntering the weekend there were still question marks as to who would make the best pairing on the power play.Even if UW head coach Mike Eaves hasn’t figured out just who he wants where, he certainly got results. Wisconsin finished 8-for-17 on the man-advantage and used it to pull away both nights against Robert Morris.“The power play is about having offensive people that have ability and take what’s given,” Eaves said. “The defense is going to give you something, and you’ve got to be able to counter and take advantage of it, and we have a few more weapons now whose natural ability is going to take over. … [T]hey’re going to score some goals, and tonight we did that.”Last season the team converted on just 15 percent of its power play opportunities, scoring a mere 30 times in 41 games. Through four games in 2007-08, the Badgers have converted 38.5 percent of their man-advantage opportunities and have 10 goals. On all nine conversions, at least one defenseman had a hand in the scoring, be it a goal or an assist. That’s much different than last season when the Badger blue liners had little to do with any goal-scoring opportunities because the offense as a whole struggled.“We’ve got some talent back there and kids that like to go,” senior defenseman Kyle Klubertanz said. “But, the defense made some big plays tonight.”On the other end, the penalty kill did its part, allowing just one Robert Morris goal on 13 chances. The Colonials’ lone goal came on a 5-on-3 during Friday night’s game — they only scored one time in four such situations. “I think, overall, coach (Mark Osiecki) was pleased looking at the final numbers,” Eaves said. “I think we did well, blocking shots, getting our sticks in the passing lanes — making it tough for them to get shots and passes through,” Klubertanz added. One play in particular that stood out to Eaves was at the end of the second period of Saturday night’s game. Freshman forward Patrick Johnson trapped the puck in the Badgers’ offensive zone and held it there against the wall with his body despite the effort of three bigger Colonials surrounding him. His endeavor helped kill precious seconds off of the RMU power play. “He looked like he was 6-foot-5. He used his body position, his heart and his quickness, and he was able to kill off the period in the corner there,” Eaves said. While what shows up in the line score is positive, Eaves said there were a lot of little corrections that need to be made.“There were moments when we were good on the penalty killing, there were moments where we need to get better and more detailed — you’re learning under the gun,” Eaves said. “We’ll be able to take that, look at some video and build on what happened.”Another point of concern was the amount of penalties Wisconsin’s young team had. In the first period Friday, the Badgers were called for four infractions during a span of eight minutes en route to 16 on the night. Between the two nights they totaled 48 minutes inside the box. Eaves attributed the excessive amount of calls to the new two-line referee system and his players getting too revved up. “We talk about being a smart team, and part of that is recognizing what the referees are calling and try to stay away from those things,” Eaves said. “I’m anxious to go look at those penalties on film and see what kind of interference calls we were making, how were we committing these interference infractions. “Is it them, is it us? Hey, they’re the refs, we have to adapt to them; they’re not going to change for us.”Still, the fact that the Badgers played “under fire” so much without giving up goals is good practice for the road ahead. “I said to Oz, ‘One thing about these penalties is that we’re getting practice at killing them,’” Eaves said.last_img read more