On Friday, Wisconsin played good hockey the entire game besides one minute. On Saturday, Wisconsin played good hockey for one minute.
The Badgers, reeling after their heartbreaking loss to Denver on Friday night, were outplayed at both ends of the ice on Saturday night in their 5-0 loss.
This was a classic game in which the stats did not tell the story. Sure, Wisconsin outshot Denver 45-28. Frankly though, Pioneer sophomore goalie Marc Cheverie had to make four or five tough saves as he set a career high for saves. Most of Wisconsin's shots were from just inside the blue line.
"Well we proved he had a pretty quick chest," head coach Mike Eaves said after the loss, a reference to Wisconsin's inability to test Cheverie.
With the win, Denver improved to 13-2-2 all time at the Kohl Center.
The game turned physical once the agitated Badgers took out their aggression on the Pioneers. Wisconsin did find the net in the third period, but it was the body of Michael Davies and not the puck that found the goal as the junior forward crashed into the net with Denver defenseman John Ryder.
What does this series say about Wisconsin?
Well for one thing it highlights the fact that the Badgers in general do not play well in the face of adversity.
In the last four home Saturday night games, Wisconsin has either been shutout, been tied in the third period and lost on a late third period goal, or had a third period lead and lost in overtime. Each of those scenarios has occurred twice, and has contributed to the Badgers' current 2-6 record at the Kohl Center in the last eight games.
The series also confirmed Wisconsin's struggles to find scoring in tight game situations. The Badgers' motto this season has been along the lines of "anyone can score at any given point" which can work either way. If one player goes down with an injury or struggles in a given night, the team can rely on someone else to step up. Unfortunately, the question becomes, at times, who exactly that guy is. In the last four home Saturday games, Wisconsin has been outscored in the third period and overtime 11-1. Not a good statistic for a team that plays its home games in front of more hometown fans than any other program in the country.
Now it's onto Mankato, and the Badgers now fight for a home WCHA playoff series instead of battling for the MacNaughton Cup. Wisconsin sits in fourth in the WCHA, and would host Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs if the season ended today. Still four games to go though, and still plenty of time for Wisconsin to rebound after a sobering weekend against Denver.