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Halfway There: Spartans Blank Nittany Lions

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The Spartans hockey team will go for a series sweep tomorrow at Munn

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Why yes that headline is making a Bon Jovi reference. What was that? Why you ask? Well... he loves Philadelphia and Penn State is from Pennsylvania. Hockey players love hair, blown out, feathered hair and in this case I present the evidence below your honor as Bon Jovi and hockey being a perfect marriage. Not liking these answers? Well it's past 1 AM and I am posting this after watching the replay of Michigan State's Friday night victory, because I want to give the fine readers of TOC in-depth hockey analysis and I was working another night for the Grand Rapids Griffins while the Spartans were playing. I do this for you people, I love you and what can I say your stuck with my headlines. I'm no Chris Vannini.

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Now that we have all enjoyed that beautiful trip back to when hair was perfect, we can move onto matters of a hockey nature. The Spartans came into the night 4th place in the B1G standings, and while they are still in that position they did close the gap between themselves and the top of the league. The Spartans capitalized on a perfect game from Jake Hildebrand to set up the possibility of a series sweep over the visiting Nittany Lions at Munn Ice Arena Saturday night.

Your line shake-ups

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Tonight&#39;s line chart: <a href="http://t.co/IR4be7rFEF">pic.twitter.com/IR4be7rFEF</a></p>&mdash; MSU_Hockey (@MSU_Hockey) <a href="https://twitter.com/MSU_Hockey/status/566373662883069952">February 13, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Brent Darnell was out of the lineup due to injury, causing a rare shaking up of the lines for coach Tom Anastos. Ryan Keller slid up to the 1st line without his usual battery mate Darnell, while Villiam Haag moved down to the third line. Thomas Ebbing swapped places with Matt DeBlouw, who has really been coming on lately, which allowed for a rare occurence of Mackenzie MacEachern and Ebbing being split up. That 2nd line was great tonight and made Anastos look like he was pulling all the right strings.

Your stats table
Michigan State Spartans vs. #19 Penn State Nittany Lions
3 Goals 0
34 Shots 28
0/3 Power Play 0/3

Mackenzie MacEachern (7)

JT Stenglein (2) Matt DeBlouw (7)

Goal Scorers

None

Your highlights

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Some Analysis

  • Mackenzie MacEachern is really growing into his own as a Sophomore. The former Mr. Hockey in Michigan has always had skill but has struggled at times to adjust to the consistency of college hockey and doesn't utilize his size as often as he should. However, he played like a man possessed tonight. He was shooting the puck early and often and opened up the scoring for the Spartans on a great effort play in the second period. MacEachern went to the net and outmuscled a Nittany Lions defender to put home a Matt Berry rebound on his backhand.
  • It was great to see JT Stenglein get rewarded with a goal tonight. Stenglein is probably the runner-up for soft spot in my heart on this team, after Matt DeBlouw, and seeing him return to the lineup and get a goal was great. He was helped by a poor turnover at the Penn State blue line, leading to a 2-on-0 but hey we're Spartans, we don't take goals for granted. Taking a 2-0 lead into the third period was crucial for this team. They were outplaying Penn State and were rewarded for their excellent play, rather than sweating out another game due to offensive ineptitude.
  • The special teams tonight were better than Penn State. The power play wasn't rewarded with a goal but the puck was moved through the neutral zone well and I liked the offensive set-up as well. The penalty kill was excellent, which has been a staple for the Spartans this season. Penn State has a top power play nationally and they were neutralized in all three of their man advantage opportunities.
  • The Spartans forecheck was excellent tonight, even leading to outshooting the Nittany Lions by 6 and holding them 13 shots under their per game average. The best line on the ice all night was the MacEachern-DeBlouw-Berry line. They cycled the puck well, DeBlouw had a great one time goal off a cycle play in the 3rd period. Also, the chemistry between Berry and MacEachern really seems to get the best out of both players.

Looking Ahead

The Spartans ended an 8 game unbeaten streak for the Nittany Lions and played possibly their most well rounded game all season. A sweep would be huge for a push towards a top three finish in the league and the Spartans know how to accomplish that feat, just repeat what they did tonight. Tomorrow's game is at 6:00 pm on BTN.

Around the B1G

At the top of the league Minnesota defeated Michigan 6-2 in a route. The Gophers now sit at 14 in the Pairwise rankings meaning they would most likely be in the NCAA tournament as an at large bid. The Wolverines dropped to 15, firmly on the bubble and at risk of not making it depending on the outcomes of conference tournaments. In the cellar of the B1G Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 2-1. The Badgers still do not have a league win and have won just two games all season.

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Brought to you by the cinematic delight Hot Rod, played to the tune of "Two of Hearts".

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