Arizona State Sun Devils Scouting Report
The No. 6 Penn State Nittany Lions (5-0-0) are looking to stay undefeated when Arizona State (6-2-0) comes to town this weekend. Head Coach Greg Powers has lead the Sun Devils to a good start to their season with series sweeps over Alaska Fairbanks, Alabama Huntsville, and Nebraska-Omaha (all teams that you should be able to beat consistently if you hope to climb the college hockey ranks). The Sun Devils were swept by Ohio State last month, but pushed the then top-ranked Buckeyes in both games.
Arizona State as a program has not had the same good fortune that Penn State had right out of the gate. Unlike the Nittany Lions, they don’t yet have a shiny new arena on its campus, or a conference to call home. Although there have been quite a few rumors about conferences that Sun Devils have been looking to join, nothing has yet to materialize. Thankfully, Arizona State is building a new arena on campus that will only help to continue support for the team.
Johnny Walker (sponsorship opportunities will surely fall into place should he go pro) has been one of the nation’s hottest players to start the season. Through ASU’s first eight games, Walker leads the nation in goals (8) and shots (50!!) and is tied for the national lead in points (13). We’ll have to see if Walker will be able to keep up his scoring pace as the season wears on. Tyler Buschhhhhhhhhh (I’m sorry I had to) is also having a great start to his season with three goals and five assists.
Powers has rolled out the same defensive lineup all season, and the consistency on the blue line is paying off. The Sun Devil defense has been solid through eight games, surrendering just 13 goals through the first eight games, with six those coming in the series against Ohio State. Junior Brinson Pasichnuk leads the defense with 3-2-5, 33 shots, and a +4. ASU’s biggest defensive weakness is that they give up a lot of shots, having allowed 236 shots so far, tops in the country.
Junior Joey Daccord (Ottawa Senators 2015 seventh round draft pick) has started all eight of ASU’s games this season and has been their best player so far. His 223 saves, 1.51 GAA, .949 save percentage, and six wins have him among the best goalies in the country. If the Sun Devils are going to finish the season with a winning record, Daccord will need to continue to be this good, and the defense in front of him will need to limit the shot attempts against him.
Keys to a Penn State Win
Stop Johnny Walker, or at least slow him down. Penn State proved against Princeton that it can slow down elite scoring, and it just needs to apply the same steady does of pressure to Walker and keep him from completely taking over a game. Beyond that, Penn State doesn’t need to change the game plan that has led to the undefeated started. A stifling forecheck, strong back check, and solid goaltending will be enough to take care of business against the Sun Devils.
Div: I think Penn State will sweep, but Arizona State will give it a run for its money. The forwards are clicking, the power play is hot, and Peyton Jones seems hungrier than he’s ever been. The Sun Devils will put up a fight, but the Lions will ultimately be too much for them to handle. Game 1: 5-1, Game 2: 6-3.
Sam: I really liked what I saw last weekend against Princeton. Penn State had the answer for whatever Princeton could throw at them and found a found a way to win a game that they did not control for whole game. ASU isn’t going to threaten the Lions like Princeton did, and Penn State’s steady pressure and shoot-first-ask-questions-later mentality will wear down the Sun Devil defense. Penn State sweeps with 5-3 and 4-2 wins.