I said on our podcast that Penn State could be swept by the No.11 Minnesota Golden Gophers. They were. It wasn't a surprise because of how well Minnesota played defensively. Most of Penn State's chances were from the perimeter because of how well Minnesota stacked the front of the net. What was surprising was how close the games were because of the multiple Penn State defensive breakdowns, but Oskar Autio and Liam Souliére bailed the Nittany Lions out big time with key saves. But this next series for the Nittany Lions is so crucial.
Penn State heads to Madison, Wisconsin to take on the Badgers. Wisconsin finished last in the Big Ten and lost two very important players: Alex Turcotte and K'Andre Miller. The good news for them is that Cole Caufield returned for another season. You might think that the Badgers are even worse now. But they are actually better thanks to of the amount of production they are getting throughout the lineup, plus they have good goaltending now.
Caufield has yet to score a goal in four games which is good news if you are a Penn State fan. He only has four assists so far, as well. But Dylan Holloway, the 14th overall selection in the 2020 NHL draft, has been excellent so far with two goals. He had 17 points as a freshman and is expected to break that margin with an increased role.
This series is so critical for the Nittany Lions to get a win because they face Michigan next week. The Wolverines have the best 2020 class in the entire nation and possibly have five first-round NHL draft picks. Owen Power is an elite offensive defenseman similar to Victor Hedman. He has four points (1 goal, 3 assists) and could be the number one overall pick in the 2021 draft. If Penn State gets swept, there is no chance that they beat Michigan. It would be shocking if the games are close, that in itself would be an accomplishment.
Now, it's going to take time for the Nittany Lions to develop chemistry with each other, especially now that they are getting thrown right into conference play. However, this upcoming series against Wisconsin is a series where chemistry must start to form. This is also the series where the top six forwards must start producing. Alex Limoges and Aarne Talvitie are Penn State's most important players, and they don't have a single point. That is a major concern. Teams can't win without its star players producing.
A sweep will be great, but a split is passable. I'm not saying that this is going to be an easy series, but Penn State cannot afford to repeat their performance against Minnesota.