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Pick Six: 6 Things to Watch in the Big Ten (October 17, 2014)

This week's Pick Six includes Germany, injuries and, of course, that second chance to make a first impression.

Matt Christians

One weekend in and the feeling short of pointing out outrageous outliers is one where it's nice that another weekend of college hockey gets to happen again. All Big Ten teams beside Minnesota are in action this weekend. Besides Michigan State, which is opening up its season at home against UMass, the other four teams are in games 2 or 3. Four more Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge games are also on tap.

This week's Pick Six includes Germany, injuries and, of course, that second chance to make a first impression.

Games (all times local to team's home):

Friday October 17

Massachusetts @ Michigan State - 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: None, Radio: WJIM 1240 AM (East Lansing), Stream: None

Miami @ Ohio State - 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: None, Radio: 1460 AM (Columbus) Stream: BTN+ ($$$)

Wisconsin vs. Northern Michigan - 7:00 p.m. CT (Game played at Resch Center in Green Bay, WI)
TV: None, Radio: WIBA AM 1310 (Brian Posick play-by-play and Paul Capobianco color), Stream: WCHA.TV ($$$)

New Hampshire @ Michigan  - 7:35 p.m. ET
TV: Comcast 900 (Michigan only - Ben Holden play-by-play, Fred Pletsch color), Radio: IMG Sports Network (Al Randall play-by-play, Bill Trainor color), Stream

Penn State vs. Alaska-Anchorage - 9:00 p.m. ET (Alaska Gold Rush)
TV: None, Radio: None Stream: WCHA.TV ($$$)


Saturday October 18

Massachusetts @ Michigan State - 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: None, Radio: WVFN 730 AM Stream: None

Ohio State @ Miami - 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: None Radio: 1460 AM (Columbus) Stream: NCHC.TV

Wisconsin vs. Northern Michigan - 7:00 p.m. CT (Game played at Resch Center in Green Bay, WI)
TV: None, Radio: WIBA AM 1310 (Brian Posick play-by-play and Paul Capobianco color), Stream: WCHA.TV ($$$)

New Hampshire @ Michigan - 7:35 p.m. ET
TV: None Stream: BTN+ ($$$)

Penn State @ Alaska - 11:00 p.m. ET (Alaska Gold Rush)
TV: None, Radio: None Stream: WCHA.TV ($$$)

1.  The first weekend always has firsts - freshmen making debuts, goals, shutouts. etc. Last Friday's Penn State game saw two from a team that is beginning to run out of firsts to check off with Penn David Goodwin becoming the most clutch (regular season edition) after a last minute goal tied the game at 2 and Tommy Olczyk converting the first-ever successful penalty shot in school history.

This week Penn State travels 4,160 miles to Fairbanks, Alaska - the equivalent from State College to Berlin. It's a reunion of sorts for head coach Guy Gadowsky, who coached Alaska from 1999-2004 and is a member of the Nanook Hall of Fame, and Alaska native Casey Bailey. Tonight's game against Alaska-Achorage is also one for former Seawolf Eric Scheid.

2. Early games offer a small sample size and one of those - Wisconsin only being able to muster 14 shots on goal in a 1-0 loss to Alaska - stands out regardless. Although losing the majority of the team's goal scoring to graduation and early departures means growing pains were imminent for the 0-2 Badgers, there's nowhere to go but up.

Head coach Mike Eaves will have two weeks after this weekend's series against Northern Michigan for teaching. The Badgers don't play again until November 7th.

3. Wisconsin appears to have gotten some good news yesterday in that it will have six defensemen available. Eddie Wittchow should be ready to play for the Badgers this weekend. Wittchow left Friday's loss  when he took the brunt of a neutral zone hit he tried to make. He didn't play in Saturday's loss to Alaska-Anchorage. Having Wittchow back gives UW six defensemen.

Also on the injury report are Michigan's Justin Selman being out after breaking his hand and Wittchow's teammate Tim Davison, who suffered a head injury after this hit by UAA's Brett Cameron. (Cameron was suspended a game by the WCHA.) Michigan State defenseman John Draeger, meanwhile, is a game time decision to start the year on time tonight. The junior had offseason hip surgery.

4. We're going to touch on this more early next week, but Michigan State is hoping to find more offense this season. The Spartans struggled last year to light the lamp, finishing 54th out of 59 teams (and last in the Big Ten) with only 2.19 goals per game. 12 times Tom Anastos' team scored 1 goal or less.

"The last few years I think our D core has played well, it's we haven't had the scoring that we would like. So I think that as long as our defense plays the way that they have been playing - with guys like Josh Jacobs and we have another guy named Carson Gatt, I think both are solid defensemen," Michigan State goaltender Jake Hildebrand said. "I think scoring-wise last year it wasn't where we thought it was going to be."

Opening the year against Massachusetts is a good place to start. The Minutemen, 46th in total defense last season giving up an average of 3.12 goals per game, were lit up for 8 goals by Boston University last weekend.

5. Michigan began the season at Ferris State giving up two goals in sixty-three seconds and have had to wait nearly two weeks for a second chance at a first impression. The Wolverines will finally get that this weekend against New Hampshire. The time off is beneficial for young players like 17 year-old freshman Zach Werenski. Or maybe not. As senior Zach Hyman pointed out before the season, the freshman and 2015 Draft Eligible was ready despite accelerating his senior year of high school.

"Werenski, the young 17 year-old, you'd think a 17 year-old would be nervous, but no," he said. "He's a big boy. He's going to be stepping in and have a big role to start."

Werenski scored Michigan's first two goals in the exhibition win against Wilfrid Laurier.

6. In the "no motivation needed" department: Ohio State was swept last season by Miami when the two teams played a home-and-home series. The Buckeyes never led against its in-state rival. After splitting a series against top-5 Providence and holding the Friars off the board in 7 power play chances, Ohio State has a chance to take another step in the right direction.

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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter --