Hockey notebook: Caporusso ahead of schedule
When senior center Louie Caporusso went down with a knee injury Feb. 25, the fear was he might miss the rest of the season. However, Caporusso could return to the ice later this week assistant coach Bill Powers told TheWolverine.com after practice Monday …
"Louie's doing good," said Powers, filling in for coach Red Berenson, who was in St. Louis accepting an award from the Blues. "I'm not a doctor but he was just sitting with us and said he's doing really good. [His knee] feels strong and I think there is a chance that he'll skate by the end of this week.
"The impression I get is we could have him next weekend [for the CCHA semifinals March 18-19]."
In Caporusso's absence, classmate Carl Hagelin is manning center after spending his entire senior year and most of his college career on the left wing. But Hagelin has played center before and he is quickly adapting to the position change.
"It's fun to play center," he said. "You get the puck a bit more, especially down low [in your own zone] … you get to play with the puck a bit more. It's easier to make plays.
"And it's not a lot different for me because when I play wing I try to backcheck as much as possible anyways. Obviously you play a little more in your own zone as a centerman but you also get the puck a lot more because our defense looks for you coming out of our own zone."
In Powers' estimation Hagelin has made a seamless transition from left wing to center.
"He looks really good," Powers said. "His future might be at center, but he can play any position. He likes to go back deep in our zone anyways to get the puck so it's more natural for him because that's the responsibility we give our centers. Our defense is looking for the middle a little bit more so I think he'll be getting the puck more coming out of our zone and he's a guy that we want to have the puck."
Hagelin will center a line that includes junior left wing David Wohlberg and sophomore right wing Chris Brown. In their only game together as a line, the three had three goals and two assists in Michigan's 5-0 blanking of Northern Michigan Feb. 26.
"It's fun to play with Brown and Wohlberg - I've never played with Wohlberg before because we're both left wingers," Hagelin said. "So far so good.
"And Louie should be back after this weekend."
Bowling Green's upset of Northern has the Wolverines' attention
On paper, this is one of the worst teams Michigan has ever met in the playoffs. The Falcons went 3-21-4 in the CCHA, finishing with the fewest wins by a conference team since Notre Dame had just three victories in 2004-05.
But this Bowling Green team just knocked off the Wildcats in Marquette in advancing to the quarterfinal round, and BGSU's 2-0 and 2-1 wins (following a 6-3 loss) give the Maize and Blue plenty of reason to take their opponent seriously.
"We're going to prepare for Bowling Green the same way we'd prepare for Miami or Michigan State," Brown said. "They're on a high because they're coming off two big victories, and we didn't play last weekend so they're going to have confidence. We have to match their intensity and use the home ice to our advantage."
Bowling Green didn't enter the playoffs on a winning streak - in fact, BGSU was 0-6-2 in eight February contests - but during its final four regular-season weekends, the Falcons surrendered just 2.25 goals per game. They beat NMU because they limited Northern's offense and that will likely be their game plan against Michigan too.
"We know in the playoffs goals are precious and Bowling Green's offensive numbers … they've struggled to score goals [with 1.85 per game this year] but if you look at their last 10-12 games' goals against they're pretty good and their penalty kill is the exact same as ours," Powers said.
"The reason they're still playing is because of how they're playing without the puck. So we're expecting a tough low-scoring series and I think it will come down to the timing of a goal and hopefully we'll be able to come through.
"On paper, there is not a whole lot to brag about but they're coming off their best weekend of the year and that means something, and they'll be a team Friday with three playoff games under their belt feeling pretty good about themselves."
Merrill takes home rookie honors
The CCHA unveiled its All-Rookie Team Monday and it was no surprise to see U-M freshman defenseman Jon Merrill on that list. He was selected after leading all rookie blue liners in goals (seven), assists (14) and points (21) during the 28-game league schedule. He actually led all defensemen, regardless of class, in scoring.
"Halfway through the year you're not even thinking about Jon Merrill on the All-Rookie Team, you're thinking about whether he'll be on the first- or second-team all-conference because his play in the CCHA has dictated that," said Powers.
"It is a good honor and you look back on the All-Rookie teams and there have been a lot of impressive defensemen and forwards through the years. It's good for him, and he's more than deserving and it wouldn't surprise me if he were to pop up on the other teams too."
The All-CCHA teams will be announced Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. with the year's individual award winners set to be announced at the CCHA Awards Show March 17.