Looking at the numbers so far this season:
Michigan State has played 16 regular season games so far with a 4-10-2 record.
I don't think these numbers will shock you:
When Scoring 3 goals or more: 4-0-1
When Scoring 2 goals or less: 0-10-1
The lone ties in each case was a 3-3 tie to Niagara on October 20th and a 2-2 tie to Miami on November 16th. Once in awhile, you would think the exception would pop up, and maybe they are going to come down the road, but in the meantime, it shows just how the offensive struggles (and injuries on the team) have caused problems. In fact, Michigan State has only scored 1 goal (or less) in 8 of their 16 games this season. Think about that for a second: That means MSU would have to throw a shutout in order to get no worse than a tie!
For comparison sake - on defense:
When giving up 3 goals or more: 0-8-1
When giving up 2 goals or less: 4-2-1
Again, not shocking, but it shows that a handful of times, Michigan State has given up 2 goals or less and still failed to get a win:
November 2nd: 1-0 loss vs. Bowling Green
November 16th: 2-2 tie at Miami
November 17th: 2-0 loss at Miami
Ohio State was an empty net goal away from falling into the second group. But I believe this again shows how the offense has been the issue.
Goaltending hasn't been an issue - Hildebrand, who maybe didn't get much attention from scouts or recruiting rankings, has been stellar in goal. He's 12th in the nation in GAA (1.911) and tied for 6th in the nation in save percentage (.940). Yanakeff might not have the numbers, but this weekend was a good example where he maybe gave up five goals, but he had little chance (if any) on most of them.
So the question becomes - what can we expect over the last 20 games?
More Home Games! Even though Michigan State still plays three of its next four games away from Munn Ice Arena, the Spartans still play only six true road games (2 at Ferris State, 2 at Alaska, 1 at Bowling Green, 1 at Michigan). They finish with 11 true home games, 6 road games, and 3 neutral ice games. January 11th begins a stretch where they play 9 of 12 at home. I'd say this would get MSU going a little bit on offense, but we have such a small sample size to work from. With that said, In the five games where MSU scored 3 or more goals, three of them happened at home. Health is a concern too. I'm not going to pretend that a flurry of goals is about to fall out of the sky in East Lansing, but sooner or later the puck is going to start going in - at least a little bit more. It has to - I can't just imagine a season in which 50% of a team's games would require them to post a shutout just to earn a tie.