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06-28-2008, 10:00 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Motown
Country: United States
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Allright, I'm tired of waiting for the preseason team reports so I'm taKING the Badgers report into my own hands. Gird your loins and here we go....

WHO LEFT: Davis Drewiske, Kyle Turris, Matt Ford, Kyle Klubertantz and sentimental favorite Josh Engel. Thanks to the seniors who had a great career and best of luck to Turris in the bigs. Losing Turris hurts but the losses are not insurmountable.

WHO'S COMING IN : Jake Gardiner (Bob McKenzie thought he was the fastest skater in this year's draft), Derek Stepan, Pat Wiercioch, Jordy Murray, Matt Thurber, Ryan Little and Eric Springer. The 1st 4 have the potential to be impact players their 1st year.

OFFENSE: The Badger offense is not going to strike fear into anyone. There are no stars, but solid depth with Ben Street, Blake Geoffrion, M. Davies and Patrick Johnson. John Mitchell should be a solid contributor and Jordy Murray should approximate what P. Johnson did last year. Derek Stapan has potential to be an offensive catylist. The offense will be good enough to win but not a powerhouse.

DEFENSE: Gardiner, McDonagh and Brendan Smith are 1st round draft choices. Goloubef, McBain and Wiercioch are second rounders. There is no guarantee this crew will gel, but you are probably deluding yourself if you think your teams defense will be better than this. Craig Johnson is a solid compliment to a stellar core. The only knock on this crew is their youth. McBain got all the kudos last year but Brendan Smith is the real star of the bunch. He was on pace to match McBain last year in points until he went down with an injury. Points from the blueline shouldn't be a problem next year.

GOALTENDING: Shane Connelly has quietly put together a good career at UW. He kept the team afloat his frosh year when the mighty Brian Elliot went down with injury, was stellar as a backup his soph year, and played fairly steadily in front of a young defense and a team that never gelled last year. He has a better supporting cast in front of him this year. He's not stellar but he's solid enough to steal a couple games. Gudmandson needs more starts this year; he should make a capable backup. Connelly won't screw the team with weak goals, he usually makes the saves he needs to.

X-FACTORS: 1) Blake Geoffrion can do it all when he's motivated...score, kill penalties, win critical faceoffs and be a nightmare defensively. He needs to be consistent. He looked like he was floating half the games last year and nearly 20% of his point production came during the Bob Morris series. He was entrusted as a co-captain this year so he needs to be all-out every game. 2) We'll see if Brendan Smith has recovered from his injury to lead the D. 3) Special teams need to be better. The PP was caca and worse, the penalty kill, a hallmark of Badger hockey, was abyssmal. It's one thing the PP couldn't score but they let Chad Rau cement his legend as a short handed threat last year. 4) Eaves needs to have confidence in his team. He went into some bizarre sit-on-the-lead tactic against NoDak in the playoffs and it cost them. This year there will be more depth and experience so hopefully they are coached to their abilities.

OUTLOOK: This is a solid team that has the potential to beat anyone. The schedule will be brutal but they should make the tourney again. League play will be tough since the WCHA teams should be more resolute after last years epic collapse in the playoffs. UW won't be a prohibitive favorite to win a championship but they could do some damage in the playoffs.

My wish list for the year (and it's a long one): get the best of The Goofs and those thugs from Grand Forks, punk out Michigan in The Showcase, and put the uppity Huskies and Tigers back in their place as patsies. Oh yeah, beating BC at Chestnut Hill to start the year would be pretty okay, too.

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