Three keys to the Gophers beating the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday at the Kohl Center:
1) Get the power play clicking again. It is still fourth in the nation at 28.3 percent but used to be a runaway No. 1 until a one-for-17 cold spell in the past three games. Wisconsin seems like the team to get the pp going. The Badgers have the worst penalty kill in the WCHA at 69.0 percent. In comparison, the Gophers pk is at 88.5 percent, tied for 12th nationally.
Where is the Badgers pk nationally? No. 56, only Vermont and Harvard are below UW.
2) Watch Justin Schultz. He is a very offensive defenseman. Gophers coach Don Lucia said he is one of the best players in the country. The maroon and gold have to be aware of him every time he steps on the ice and he will be out there a lot. Every other shift.
3) Clear the crease around Kent Patterson. If he sees the puck, he will stop it. The Badgers have some size at left wing where they are 6-4, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.
As if the Gophers needed more incentive, if they win tonight it will Lucia's 300th win at Minnesota in 13 years. He is 299-160-53 despite four down seasons in a row. His first Gophers win game in his fifth game at the U of M. The Gophers beat Boston College 6-5 on Oct. 29, 1999.
Should have the Gophers' line memorized by now -- they don't change. So from memory:
Kyle Rau-Nick Bjugstad-Zach Budish ... Rau and Bjugstad both scored their eighth goal of the season last game. Bjugey matched his season total for all of last year. Budish only has three goals but has 11 assists.
Sam Warning-Erik Haula-Jake Hansen ... Haula remains the leading scorer in the nation, but his hold is slipping. He has not had a point in three games, partly because the penalty kill is 1 for 17 in those games. Haula has seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points.
Nate Condon-Taylor Matson-Seth Ambroz ... Condon and Matson are two of team's top penalty killers.
Tom Serratore-Travis Boyd-Nick Larson ... This line scored two big goals, one each night, against North Dakota.
Wow. Got 'em with a minimum of thinking. Just came to me.
Ben Marshall-Mark Alt
Jake Parenteau-Nate Schmidt
Seth Helgeson-Justin Holl
Joe LaBate-Mark Zengerle-Tyler Barnes ... two Minnesota players here. Both from Eagan, although LaBate played for Holy Angels and Barnes for Burnsville ... Barnes leads team with five goals
Michael Mersch-Keegan Meuer-Matt Pappe ... seven goals on this second line
Brendan Woods-Jefferson Dahl-Ryan Little ... five goals total
Brad Navin-Jason Clark-Sean Little ... zero goals
Frankie Simonelli-Justin Schultz ... Schultz is The Man for UW, all-american, Hobey finalist, defensive player of year in WCHA ,,, has four goals and 14 points
Eric Springer-John Ramage
Patrick Daly-Joe Faust ... two Minnesotans, both NHL draft picks but young, Daly is a fr., Faust a soph.