During Michigan's first two powerplays yesterday, it seemed as if Michigan State was the team with the man advantage.The Spartans' penalty killing unit - first in the CCHA with a killing percentage of .925 - was swarming all over Michigan and not allowing it to get any rhythm going with the extra man.
The key to the Wolverines' success on the powerplay this season has come at the point, with junior forward Mike Cammalleri and sophomore defenseman Mike Komisarek swinging the puck from side to side and firing bullets at the opposing goaltender. But Michigan State's penalty killing unit purposely put pressure on the point, which threw the Wolverines out of their comfort zone in the first period.
But Michigan associate head coach Mel Pearson saw a weakness in the Spartans' penalty-killing strategy, and he immediately informed Berenson and the Wolverines of this loophole.
Pearson's solution was to try and take the focus of the powerplay away from the point and to force the puck low in the zone. Pearson's plan also consisted of "rotating down low and trying to do back-door passing because (Michigan State) was pressuring at the points. Pearson appears to have been a prophet, as it was a backdoor pass on the powerplay which won the game for the Wolverines.
The Leafs used this approach effectively on Hoglund's tip-in of Dempsey's point blast. Rotate down low then feed the points looking for tip-ins and garbage.