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Friday Rink Reading

Michigan has already played four games this year. "Games" might be a bit generous. Revenue-generating opportunities to be more accurate. In any case, the Wolverines were perfect against a trio of eastern tomato cans. There were some early concerns about the Wolverines scoring after losing a lot of players to graduation, but the Wolverines exploded for 10 goals last night against St. Lawrence. That said, most stat-nerds agree that shooting percentages above 10% usually aren't sustainable, so last night's 29% shooting percentage probably isn't the norm. There's not much for them to take away from that, other than a giant pile of money for what amounts to an exhibition game.

The bad news for Michigan is that sources indicate Jon Merrill's suspension may extend indefinitely and end his Michigan career.

Speaking of eastern tomato cans, last weekend may have been an ugly look into the future. Michigan vs. Bentley remained competitive on the scoreboard most of the weekend, but Minnesota's double-shutout of Sacred Heart was unwatchable. I really tried and made it through maybe 10 minutes total. It doesn't give a lot of hope for the 5-1-1 plan a lot of Big Ten schools are talking about(5 home series, 1 away series, 1 neutral series) to fill their 14 non-conference games. That ratio is going to require quite a few home series from teams that don't require return games. Either NCHC and WCHA will have to give in to that, or expect a lot more games like last weekend.

Notre Dame became a huge national power deserving of their own national TV contract over the summer, but now that the season has started, some reality has started to creep back in. This weekend's series against Ohio State--the type of big name match-up much of this realignment was centered around--seems to be having a tough time bringing people in. Granted, the Irish haven't moved to their beautiful new arena yet, but they are practically giving away tickets, from student season ticket packages priced at under $2 a game, to four-packs of tickets for $5 a ticket this weekend, to Jeff Jackson robo-calling every phone number Notre Dame has urging people to buy tickets(and possibly to vote yes on Prop 78, re-zoning South Bend's many crack houses from residential to commercial.) If nobody wants to see them in person, what kind of television audience are they going to draw? Like so many of NBC's ventures these days, it seems based on the gamble that people will watch it just because it's on TV.

Yahoo's sports blogs have a weird traffic model where a ridiculously high percentage of their traffic--I thought I heard one time like 90%-- comes from their own main page, meaning a story on a Yahoo blog isn't a big deal, unless it gets linked on the main site, at which point it becomes a pretty big deal. Such was the case for North Dakota's Rocco Grimaldi when this story about some of his Tweets made it to the front of Yahoo, and became a big deal. I'll agree with Greg Wyshynski that those Tweets weren't particularly well thought-out, but if that's what Grimaldi believes, it's his right to say it. People say dumb stuff all the time. Greg Shepherd doesn't think people dive in the WCHA. But to act like there's some magic number of Twitter followers that once you acquire, all your views must meet certain social standards is foolish.

I cut my losses and gave up on the North Dakota nickname story years ago--an incredibly wise choice on a story that has turned out to be equally long and boring--but I'm pretty sure this article could have been run in The Onion. UND's president is greatly concerned that this nickname is hurting North Dakota's national reputation, which is pretty much, "Wait, there's a North Dakota now?" The nickname is also cited as the reason why Notre Dame chose Hockey East over the NCHC, which is strange since I thought the NCHC dumped Notre Dame first.

Last week, I ranked Minnesota State's defense as the worst in the WCHA, citing the fact that they were Tyler Elbrecht and not much else. Last weekend, Elbrecht broke his arm in two places halfway through the first game of the season. That injury, combined with an injury to Danny Heath means it's now time for Season 8 of Mankato's Next Tom Preissing Project, with forwards Eli Zuck and walk-on freshman Charlie Thauwald trying to play defense.(Spoiler Alert: Nobody ever wins, unless you're Jake Gardiner). At this point, there's a couple USHL teams that look stronger on the blueline than Minnesota State. Only offering scholarships to forwards seems to have been a poor strategy, especially when that group only scored one goal last weekend.

Also, Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting bragged about a goalie having an almost 91% save percentage, a number not good enough to be in the top five among WCHA goalies since the goaltending-thin 2005-2006 season. Keep shooting for the stars.

Denver's Adam Murray left last Saturday's exhibition against the NTDP with a minor injury, but should be ready to go this weekend as DU travels east to play Boston College and Boston University. That's good that he'll be able to go, because back-up Juho Olkinoura has to sit out the first three games of the season for playing in some type of semi-pro league in Finland, leaving former DU rugby player Zack Hope as the team's only back-up to Murray.

St. Cloud's Jared Festler has a shot capable of breaking glass.