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08-21-2013, 11:46 AM
Oilers Chick
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Originally Posted by RabidBadger View Post
With all the early departures I wouldn't be so quick to anoint Minny with the inaugural conference championship. Bucky is returning almost everyone and you can never count Michigan out of anything.
The biggest issue for Michigan will be their back end. They lost Trouba and Merrill early to the pros and goaltending (until the last few weeks of the season) was mediocre at best last year. If Racine can pick up from where he left off last season and give them that solid goaltending & plug up the holes left by Trouba & Merrill on the blue line, they WILL contend for not only the Big Ten title but possibly for a national championship as well.

Minnesota is going to be intriguing to watch this season. Lost a lot of scoring but also brings in one of the best recruiting classes too. The thing with the Gophers though is that they can't underestimate their opponents, especially in the NCAA Tournament. IMO, that's what they did against Yale and it cost them dearly. It shouldn't matter WHO your opponent is or what their record is or what conference they play in or if they have fewer NHL prospects than you. If don't bring your "A" game, you're doomed. Had the Gophers played Yale as hard as they would play say Wisconsin or North Dakota, they probably would've beaten them.

As I look at all of the Big Ten teams and see who's coming back and who's gone, I can't help but to think that Wisconsin will be one of, if not the early favorite to win the Big Ten. As you mentioned, Bucky had few offseason losses and return nearly all of their top guys. But what I'd really like to see is Bucky get off to a better start to the season this year. They posted only one win last Oct & Nov combined. Sure, they were great at midseason and down the stretch, but the early games are important too. Those early wins, especially versus non conference opponents that could be ranked later in the season, are crucial PWR points and ones they can pocket when the season moves along.

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