Badgers Klubertanz-less

first_imgAfter being injury-depleted much of the season, the Badgers will once again be a man down.Kyle Klubertanz, who missed three games earlier in the season due to a right leg injury, will not make it to Colorado Springs, Colo., when the Badgers take on No. 15 Colorado College this weekend.Patterning the unexplained leg injury that plagued forward Adam Burish a couple seasons ago, Klubertanz’s right ankle developed an odd infection that has baffled the trainers and the coaching staff.”He was in and out of University Hospital this week and spent the night,” head coach Mike Eaves said. “This popped up right out of the blue.”To say this year has been a struggle for Klubertanz would be an understatement. In addition to missing time early in the season, Klubertanz hasn’t found the back of net. In fact, the junior hasn’t scored since the Badgers beat Ohio State at Lambeau Field last February — a span of 37 games.”[Sitting out this weekend] is just a cautionary thing and we’ll see what happens,” Klubertanz said. “It’s been a bummer.”The defenseman’s injury adds another roadblock for a team fighting to make the postseason.Without one of its key blue liners against the Tigers, Wisconsin is going to have to work extra hard to prevent Colorado College from drawing first blood — a task that statistically hasn’t been kind to UW this season. When the Badgers score first, they are 7-4-1; when its opponent scores first, Wisconsin is just 4-9-1.It’s a setback that has forced Wisconsin to play catch-up time and again.Currently, the Tigers (14-10-2, 10-7-1 WCHA) are fourth in the conference with 21 points. The Badgers (11-13-2, 8-9-1 WCHA) are sixth with 17.If UW could somehow sweep the series, it would then be tied with CC for fourth or fifth, depending on how North Dakota does — a boost that would certainly help Wisconsin’s playoff chances.The last time these two teams faced off, the Badgers swept the Tigers 3-2 and 9-1. It was the weekend before Elliott sustained a leg injury in practice.While last year’s team had the offensive firepower to play from behind, this year’s club has struggled to find an offensive rhythm thus far.”We’re trying to play ‘patiently persistent’ and still have some level of aggressiveness,” Eaves said. “We’re looking to find that balance.”Even so, Eaves said that no matter what level you play on, scoring first will bring good results.”Even when we came in here our first year, the stats were so clearly in favor of the team that scores first, whether it’s this level or the National Hockey League level,” Eaves said. “The team that scores first, I think it’s 66 percent of the time that they’re going to win the game.”In addition to the flux in their offensive production, the Badgers have been slow to adapt to opponent’s varying game plans. Last weekend against Minnesota State, the Mavericks, not previously known for blocking shots, got in front of 19 Badger attempts.”It forces us to adjust, without question,” Eaves said. “We talk about it, and we’re in that phase of trying to [figure out] how can we counter. It’s like a punch and a counter-punch, so it forces us to become better. If we can adjust quicker than other teams and create something that allows us to get outside that box and be successful when teams try to block shots, then that’s a plus for us.”While Badger coaches, fans and players may not be pleased with Wisconsin’s position in the conference — sixth place having split the last three series — Eaves maintains the cardinal-and-white are still picking up desperately needed points and are making progress.last_img

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