No. 18 Wisconsin (4-7-2 Big Ten, 10-11-3 overall) vs. Michigan State (3-9-1-1, 9-13-1)
Saturday Jan. 13, 7 p.m.
Kohl Center. Madison, WI
Wisconsin lost the opening game of the series last night 2-0.
Lack of urgency
After the loss last night, junior forward Seamus Malone said that Wisconsin was not urgent enough. Specifically, he said, "I don't think the work ethic was where it needed to be." The Badgers generated very few opportunities throughout the whole game. UW struggled to force the puck towards the front of the MSU net, and the majority of UW's shots were from distance and harmless. Wisconsin played probably its slowest game of the season, and if it wants to win tonight, it will need a much more determined performance.
Graduate transfer goaltender Kyle Hayton was outstanding for the Badgers last night. The All-American has had an inconsistent season thus far and has been admittedly frustrated by his performance. In 20 games, Hayton has posted only a .896 save percentage, which is well below his line in his previous seasons with St. Lawrence. Last night, however, Hayton looked dialed in and much improved. Hayton stopped 19 of 20 Michigan State shots, and the only goal he allowed came after he was bumped (outside of the crease) by an MSU forward. Throughout the contest, Hayton moved his body into the puck, and his rebound control was outstanding. The Badgers will need Hayton to play like he did last night more consistently if they hope to make the NCAA Tournament.
No consistent scoring presence
Maybe the two most consistent and best players for the Badgers right now are freshman defensemen Wyatt Kalynuk and Josh Ess. Accordingly, the Badgers have not had an offensive player that can be counted on to go out and make a play or score a goal. Going into the season, sophomore Trent Frederic and senior Cameron Hughes were supposed to play that role, but neither has been able to consistently create offense. Each game, the Badgers usually have one forward who steps up. Last night, that was sophomore Max Zimmer, who looked fast and created a few opportunities off the rush. Still, the Badgers will not be able to constantly win unless their stars step up and make more plays. Tonight, Wisconsin will need several of Frederic, Hughes, juniors Seamus Malone and Will Johnson and senior Ryan Wagner to play better, as it can't rely on fourth-liners and freshmen to make all of the plays offensively.
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