EAST LANSING- Michigan State (2-3-1) will look to snap a three-game losing streak as they welcome in No. 14 Wisconsin (5-5) this Tuesday and Wednesday. These two teams clashed four times last year; the Spartans won three out of the four games, including two shutout wins. The puck drop for Tuesday’s game is set for 6 p.m.; Wednesday’s puck drop is set for 4 p.m.
This year, the Badgers are led by returning leading point-getter, Cole Caufield. Caufield, a sophomore forward, led Wisconsin with 36 points and 19 goals last season. Wyatt Kalynuk and Alex Turcotte, the second and third leading point producers from a season ago, are both on current NHL rosters.
Wisconsin’s last series concluded with a split against the No. 13 Ohio State Buckeyes. Wisconsin snapped a three-game losing streak of their own with a 3-1 victory over the Buckeyes on Dec 4. Like MSU, the Badgers will be on short rest heading into this week’s two-game set.
Due to numerous junior camps ramping up and some Covid-19 issues, Wisconsin will be without numerous starters, something that the Spartans’ textbook style of play should be able to capitalize on. Although it is unknown who exactly will be out for Wisconsin, Caufield, forward Roman Ahcan, center Dylan Holloway, center Tarek Baker and numerous other players have missed games recently because of various different issues
Wisconsin still should have enough talent on the ice to compete with MSU, as second-leading point-getter Linus Weissbach, Brock Caufield and forward Jack Gorniak should be able to take the ice on Tuesday.
The Badgers are led by head coach Tony Granato, a long-time NHL left-winger and former head coach of the Colorado Avalanche. Granato, who also spent three years as an assistant with the Red Wings, has compiled a 67-77-12 overall record in his fifth full-season at Wisconsin.
Michigan State desperately needs to find a way to knock off an undermanned Wisconsin team that has currently lost three out of their last four games. The Spartans are currently 0-3-1 in Big Ten play, which is good enough for last place in the conference. After starting off the season 2-0-1, the Spartans have struggled with silly penalties and mental gaffes over the past week.
Wisconsin will win if…
they create as many offensive chances as possible and capitalize on them. Wisconsin still has a lot of talent for this series despite the holes in the roster, so look for them to generate any offensive momentum they can, including trying long-stretch passes, odd-man rushes, and taking advantage on power plays.
Michigan State will win if…
they stick to their full 200-foot game and don’t commit silly penalties. The 200-foot game includes forwards coming back fast down the ice to provide defensive help, having an effective forecheck, and making smart decisions with the puck. The Spartans yielded three power-play goals against Minnesota over two games; this will need to be cleaned up before Wisconsin comes to town.
MSU also needs more from forward Mitchell Lewandowski and defenseman Dennis Cesana. The pair combined for 42 points and 15 goals last season, but through five games, Lewandowski and Cesana have only managed to combine for two goals and five points.