Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bears Drop to Second in Lowell

Well color me surprised! Okay maybe not so much. I hate that I was right but the Bears did not seem at all interested in playing in that game last night. I was unable to watch it live but just finished watching it this morning and I would have to say that the first 2 periods were some of the most boring hockey of the season. Neither team seemed to want to play the game. But Lowell wanted to win more than Hershey and they did 2-1. The loss slides the Bears back to second place as Bridgeport won last night to take the division lead.

I actually think the team played okay. I thought the defense was solid and the goaltending was okay. It was actually the offense that I thought needed to do more. Maybe more isn't the write idea since they did have 44 shots. Maybe better would be more accurate. Go back and watch the game again and count how many of the shots were from bad angles or with no traffic. Honestly I didn't think Lowell goalie Jeff Frazee played that well. Sure he made some big saves but he got lucky numerous times and the Bears allowed him to see every single shot.

The Bears offense played the same way they did for most of February, take as many shots as you can and don't worry about making them good ones. Quantity over quality seems to be this teams mantra on many an occasion. But guess isn't working! Last weekend Hershey looked really good and I personally think the lines had a big effect on that.

With Chris Bourque expecting to get recalled he didn't play which left Woods in need of new line combinations. But I think he screwed up a bit. Last weekend I thought the Beagle, Osala, and Mink line was fantastic. I thought they played hard both nights and created numerous opportunities. Last night Perrault joined that line (with Mink and Osala) and I don't think they had any decent chances. I am not saying Perrault isn't worthy of that position but he would work better with Giroux or Gordon in my opinion.

Well we will see what happens tonight. Hopefully the loss will get the team fired up and they will come out swinging tonight against Portland.

If you are scoreboard watching tonight here are the games:

Bridgeport hosts Providence at 7:00
Wilkes Barre/Scranton travels to Norfolk for a 7:15 start

The Penguins lost last night in Philly while Bridgeport defeated Worcester 2-1. Not much offense in any of the games involving the division leaders as Bridgeport, Hershey, and Wilkes Barre combined for 4 goals and allowed a combined 5 as all three games ended 2-1. I can't imagine these teams won't score a lot more tonight to get back on track.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Jeff Frazee - 43 saves will earn you some recognition. Not great but definitely good enough.
  2. Olivier Magnon - game winning goal on a rocket shot in the third
  3. Jay Beagle - good hustle all night provided him a goal and many other chances

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - B - 44 shots but I would say many of them weren't worth taking. They hit a couple posts and missed a couple open nets but not a perfect game. Get traffic to the front and get the rebounds. Not a terrible game by any means but not quite enough either.
  • Defense - B+ - I don't blame them for either goal honestly and I think they all played very well. Still some unnecessary chasing and offensive zone play but overall I think they have improved exponentially in the past couple weeks.
  • Goaltending - B - I think Neuvy wants both goals back. The first was on a rebound where he ended up out of position (and unlike Varly he likes to be in position) while the second was just a rocket shot that beat the rookie. Still made some good saves and is definitely a calming influence in goal as he doesn't bounce around and get caught out of position much.
  • Power Play - ? - Not very consistent when they did get the chances but with only 2 chances you can't really grade it.
  • Penalty Kill - ? - There was only one Lowell power play all night so this unit wasn't out long. Although they did allow a goal on the one power play it was waved off.
  • Overall - B - Not terrible. I think if one of the bounces goes their way this is a whole different game. Frazee got lucky on numerous occasions as he was left vulnerable by his defense and his own rebounds on more than one occasion but sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. If you are looking for someone to blame for this lose I think you have to look at the coach. The line combinations worked great last week......why change them now???


news and notes:
  • Quintin Laing came back from injury to play for the Caps and will now miss the rest of the season with a new injury. Laing tore his spleen at some point in the game Thursday night and will miss the remainder of the season.
  • Mike Green was also injured Thursday night so there could be a call up coming but no word of yet.
  • Chris Bourque has been called up to Washington to replace Laing.
  • The Capitals/Bears signed Trevor Bruess to an amateur tryout contract. Bruess played at Minnesota State the past 3 seasons and seems like a pretty good player. John Walton has a decent write up about him in last night's game preview that gives more detail on what kind of player he is. Check it out here.

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