This weekend the Michigan State hockey team lost their 8th and 9th consecutive conference games falling to number 4 Penn State on back-to-back nights. MSU has not won a game since defeating North Dakota 4-3 on November 25th.
While the excuse has been made the team is young and will need some time to develop, the team has failed to translate on the ice that improvements are coming, putting head coach Tom Anastos back on the hot seat. The start to the season saw the Spartans face numerous tough teams, and that will continue into Big Ten play.
Michigan State has had to score at least three goals in all four victories this season, but that often wont be enough against the top of the Big Ten. Four of the six teams in the Big Ten rank in the top seven in goals per game in the country, while Michigan and Michigan State, both in down years, sit much lower.
MSU got a taste of the high-powered Penn State offense in both games this weekend, first falling 5-2 then 5-3 the following night. On Saturday night MSU played one of their better games of the year for 49 minutes leading 2-1 late in Happy Valley. Then an onslaught of four goals by the number one ranked offense doomed the Spartans who once again were unable to weather the storm.
The Spartans have now allowed five goals against in five straight games, failing to win any of those. While a lot has been said about talent levels of the young players, the compete level and consistency of the team are non-existent at times.
Michigan State has a chance to turn around an already horrendous start to Big Ten play. The Spartans play Michigan in four of their next six, in a down year for the Wolverines, meaning this is their best chance to siege momentum and put together a winning streak. In their pervious meeting this season MSU fell 5-4 in overtime at the Great Lakes Invitational.
Without a win for over a month, the Spartans desperately need to change their ways or else they could see a huge shakeup around the team.