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Men’s hockey: Badger seek late season momentum to raise Big Ten tournament ranking

first_imgWith only four games remaining, the University of Wisconsin Men’s hockey team’s (10-15-5, 6-9-5 Big Ten) 2018-19 regular season is nearing an end and preparation for the Big Ten postseason tournament is already underway.The Badger’s season started out strong, going 8-7-3 overall and 4-3-3 against other Big Ten teams before their winter intersession. Much of their strong start was due to offensive success, as the team scored three or more goals in nine of nineteen contests, and five or more goals in five of them. Since that point, however, the team has struggled to gain ground in the standings and struggled to continue that offensive efficiency from the first half of the season. After winter intermission, Wisconsin is 2-8-2 overall and 2-6-2 against other Big Ten opponents. This challenging stretch experienced by the team can be credited both to playing high-caliber Big Ten opponents and to struggles on both ends of the ice. Since their break from Dec. 8 to Jan. 4, goalkeepers Jack Berry and Daniel Lebedeff have allowed four goals per game, significantly greater than their season average of 3.3, and the Badger offense has scored only 2.4 goals per game, an average that has dropped through the season.As a result, after spending most of the season in striking distance of the conference lead, the Badgers now sit at seventh in the Big Ten standings with 25 points, 16 points behind conference leader Ohio State. If the season ended today, the Badgers would play their opening round of the tournament at Minnesota, and would then travel to Ohio State if they were to overcome the Golden Gophers. Men’s hockey: Wisconsin seeks upset, revenge on road against No. 15 Notre DameComing off of a tough weekend series against Ohio State, the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team (9-14-5, 5-8-5 Big Read…The bad news is the Badgers are 2-6-0 against Minnesota — second-ranked in the conference — and nationally ranked No. 2 Ohio State this season.But despite their current position, the Badgers still have a chance to rise in the standings and avoid some of the top-ranked Big Ten teams early in the tournament. With their two final series coming against other Big Ten opponents, Head Coach Tony Granato’s team has a chance to control their own destiny, and possibly rise into a home playoff game to begin the tournament.One thing that Badger fans have come to know and love about Wisconsin athletics is, come post-season tournament time, rankings don’t seem to mean a lot. Wisconsin will have a fight and that’s all they need.The first of the two final series for Wisconsin will have the Badgers to traveling to No. 17 Penn State. The Badgers went 1-0-1 earlier this season when the Nittany Lions visited the Kohl Center. Penn State is 7-7-1 since their first series with the Badgers.To finish out the regular season, the Badgers will host Michigan on March 1 and 2, and look to finish off their regular season on a high note. The Badgers tied both of their previous games against the Wolverines. Michigan is 6-7-4 since playing the Badgers in late November.Now, how would Wisconsin be able to rise in the standings and avoid playing Minnesota and Ohio State to start the tournament?The first thing Wisconsin will need to do is win at least three of their remaining four games. With each win being worth three points in the conference standings, and all of their remaining four games against teams ahead of them in the standings, finishing with at least three wins is crucial. Second, they would need Michigan, Notre Dame and Michigan State to struggle and drop a few games to their upcoming opponents in each team’s four remaining contests. The Badgers currently sit six places behind Notre Dame, five behind Michigan, four behind Penn State and two behind Michigan State. Luckily for the Badgers, both Michigan and Michigan State still have two games remaining against Ohio State, a team who has dominated the conference, and has done everything in the Big Ten but clinched the No. 1 seed in the tournament.Assessing Ethan Happ’s draft stock as his UW career nears its endThere’s a saying that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. A prime example of this in action Read…If the Badgers are able to perform well against Michigan and Penn State during the next two weekends, along with the possibility that Notre Dame and Michigan State will struggle down the stretch, it’s plausible that the Badgers can jump into the No. 3 or No. 4 seed going into the postseason tournament. Having the No. 3 or No. 4 seed would be incredibly different than going into the tournament in last place. A middle seed, such as three or four, could allow the Badgers to open the tournament at home, and avoid playing top-ranked teams until later in the tournament. All games will be challenging for Wisconsin so the opportunity to avoid some of the top-ranked teams could allow the Badgers to advance farther into the tournament and build momentum for when they do have to face some tougher Big Ten teams.While these scenarios require a lot of uncertainties, it is not out of the question for Wisconsin to avoid Minnesota and Ohio State to start the tournament. This would mean a lot for Granato’s team, as they are 6-9-5 in the Big Ten overall but 4-3-5 against other teams in the Big Ten besides Minnesota or Ohio State.For all of this to happen, Granato will look upon team-leaders in goals scored — Sean Dhooghe, Will Johnson, Wyatt Kalynuk and Seamus Malone — to continue their goal-scoring ways and find the same fire that allowed them to light up the net in the first half of the season. Wisconsin will also need goalies Lebedeff and Berry to block pucks as if they were a brick wall in front of the net.This season, the Badgers rank 47th nationally in goals-allowed-per-game at 3.30 and rank 29th in goals per game at 2.87. For them to overcome the odds, rise in the standings and have a successful postseason tournament, they will need to play better on both sides of the puck.The final stretch begins for Wisconsin when they visit Penn State on Friday at 5:30 p.m. CST and Saturday at 6 p.m. CST. Friday’s bout will be available on the Big Ten Network and both games will be available via radio broadcast.last_img read more

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Dodgers’ magic number down to 2 despite 7-4 loss

first_imgBy that point, Colorado led 7-1 and the thin Rocky Mountain air wasn’t thin enough to facilitate a comeback. Yet the Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the National League West fell to 2 when the Giants lost to the A’s later in the day.The Dodgers’ lead in the division is 8 with nine games remaining. They can clinch today, but only if they beat the Rockies and the A’s beat the Giants in their game, which begins at 1 p.m. First pitch from Coors Field is scheduled for 5:10 p.m.The Dodgers have another game in Denver on Sunday before they begin a four-game series in San Francisco on Monday. Either nothing or everything will be at stake for both teams. If the Dodgers haven’t clinched the West by the end of that series, manager Don Mattingly said, “We don’t deserve to.”Bolsinger allowed seven hits and seven runs in four innings. Only four of the runs were earned, though Bolsinger did not help his cause by walking three batters. He struck out two. At one point during the fourth-inning onslaught, Dodgers head athletic trainer Stan Conte visited the mound to check on the pitcher. But there was no injury. “Nothing was wrong at all,” Bolsinger saidIn the previous breath, however, the right-hander conceded that he hasn’t been the same since returning from a four-week hiatus at Triple-A. In four September starts for the Dodgers, Bolsinger’s ERA has risen from 2.83 to 3.48.“Maybe a little bit of fatigue in the arm,” he said. “Since I’ve been back, I’m just getting tired real quick.”Mattingly reserved the right to change his mind, but said his first preference is to keep Bolsinger in the rotation. His next start would come Wednesday in San Francisco. Right-hander Carlos Frias is healthy and has a chance, like Bolsinger, to earn a postseason roster spot as a long reliever. Frias pitched four shutout innings Wednesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his only September start — a step in the right direction.Bolsinger said he is merely trying to finish the regular season strong.“Whatever happens, happens,” he said. “I definitely haven’t put myself in very good position for anything.”Rockies starter David Hale (5-5) allowed five hits and only one run in five innings before the announced crowd of 38,485 at Coors Field.On a night when second baseman Howie Kendrick was the only right-handed hitting position player in the Dodgers’ starting lineup, he delivered two of the Dodgers’ nine hits. Jimmy Rollins had three, including a triple, and Chase Utley walked twice and clubbed a ground-rule double. “It’s always tough this time of year because we’re playing against teams that have nothing to lose,” Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford said. “They play us a little harder. We’re trying not to make mistakes and do things the proper way. Sometimes it’s tough that way, but we still have to be professional, get ready to play, do what we do, and go out there and take care of business.”The Dodgers committed two errors in the field Friday and another on the base paths, when Crawford took a wide turn around first base on an infield single and was thrown out by Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado.Getting ahead of ourselves, are we?“We’re not looking forward to nothing,” Crawford insisted.The Rockies lowered the boom with three runs in the third inning and three more in the fourth against Dodgers starter Mike Bolsinger (6-5). Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez and Corey Dickerson each hit solo home runs in the fourth inning. DENVER >> The natural toll of playing 152 games is clearly pulling the Dodgers in a bad direction at the moment. Flashes of urgency, occasionally from grizzled veterans and occasionally from youngsters fighting for a postseason roster spot, are pulling the opposite direction.The taut threads in this metaphorical tug-of-war represent the Dodgers’ magic number. It can only get smaller, but its existence feels tortured.A 7-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies like Friday’s would not have come with the same tension in May or June, though the Dodgers lost to the Rockies twice in each of those months. Because it came in Game 153 of a 162-game regular season, it’s easier to lump in with the Dodgers’ four-game losing streak that ended Tuesday: Bad losses, or at least bad timing.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more