Thursday, March 25, 2010

West #1: Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin Badgers

1 seed vs. Vermont, West Regional (Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN)
At-large bid from the WCHA
Record: 25-10-4
Coach: Mike Eaves

This year's Badgers are a high-flying crew. By the numbers, they're the second most potent offense in the country, at 3.97 goals per game. And they're doing it against the fourth-toughest schedule in the nation, whereas Yale (4.09 GPG) faces the 37th. Seven different Badgers are in double digits when it comes to goals, led by senior Hobey Baker finalist Blake Geoffrion (25-18--43), 13 of whose have come on the power play. Senior Michael Davies (18-32--50) leads the team in points, while sophomore Derek Stepan (10-38--48) is tops in assists. Five Badgers have at least 30 points. Junior Brendan Smith (15-30--45) is also a Hobey finalist and leads all defenseman nationally with his 15 goals. He's made the most of his power play time, having earned 11 of his goals that way. He also leads the team in penalty minutes with 70.

On the other end of the ice, Wisconsin is anchored by junior goalie Scott Gudmandson, with his .915 SV% and 2.31 GAA. He's split time with fellow junior Brett Bennett (.885/2.31), who's appeared in 14 games, but I'd expect that Gudmandson will be the goalie for the NCAA's. The top defensemen in +/- are junior Ryan McDonagh and sophomore Jake Gardiner, who lead the team with +21. McDonagh is also right behind Brendan Smith with 69 PIM.

The Badgers are a deep, scary team. A goalie having a good night can get them, as they've been shut out on a couple of nights, most recently in the WCHA tournament semifinal against St. Cloud State, but it doesn't happen often. They've only been held to one goal 3 times. One of those was also against the Huskies, which is about the closest anyone's been to having Wisconsin's number (The Badgers are 2-3 against them on the season). As luck would have it, St. Cloud State is also in the West regional. I'm sure Wisconsin would be happy to level the season series.

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