After a loss last night in Lowell, the Bears make the short trip to Portland to avenge a home loss a little over a month ago. When Portland came to Hershey the Bears were not playing their best hockey and the Pirates beat them 3-2. Well of late the Bears have been playing better and hopefully they want to respond to the loss and get those 2 points back.
Last night was not a great night for Hershey but it wasn't that bad either. The bounces just weren't going their way. And some players didn't seem overly interested in playing the Devils. Tonight though I think this team will come out ready. They don't want to fall any further behind Bridgeport than they are right now so tonight's game is critical.
Portland has been questionable at home lately. They have lost 4 of their last 6 at home and haven't been really good there in a couple months. And it really comes down to the defense. Since December 28 they have only won once at home when they allow more than 1 goal (and that was against Springfield who scored 2 on January 1o). So basically if Hershey scores 2 or 3 goals they should win.
SHOULD WIN! They still have to play their best. I haven't seen anything yet on who will start in goal but I would imagine it would be Daren Machesney. But Woods might feel that Neuvy needs back to back starts to test him. We shall see. Either way they will get a test. Portland has 4 different 20+ goal scorers and 8 different skaters have double digit goals. So they can definitely put the pressure on and it comes from different places.
Hershey needs to win this game and it would be nice if they could do it convincingly.
Bridgeport hosts Providence at 7:00
Wilkes Barre/Scranton travels to Norfolk for a 7:15 start
record ~ 42-19-1-6 91 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
playoff positioning - 1 pt behind 1st; 1 pt ahead of 3rd
most recent game ~ 2-1 Loss @ Lowell, 3/20
last 5 games ~ 2-2-0-1
road record ~ 18-10-1-3
goals for ~ 256
goals against ~207
power play ~ 18.6% (8th)
penalty kill ~ 79.2% (28th)
record ~ 32-27-3-6 73 points
standings ~ 3rd in Atlantic Division
playoff positioning ~ 11 pts behind 1st; tied for 3rd/4th
most recent game ~ 3-1 Loss vs Hartford, 3/20
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
home record ~ 20-12-0-3
goals for ~ 204
goals against ~ 199
power play ~ 15.9% (21st)
penalty kill ~ 84.1% (9th)
last time teams met - Portland won 3-2 in Hershey on February 8.
Players to watch:
Bob Woods - The line combinations were shuffled last weekend due to Keith Aucoin being recalled and the team played great. Last night the lines were still different but he was quick to return to the original lines. Also can he get this team pumped to play a team that isn't chasing them in the standings?
LW Alexandre Giroux (12) - Personally I thought last night was Giroux's worst game of the season. He was regularly standing around and didn't seem interested in being on the ice. He only has 2 goals and 1 assist in his last 5 games.
RW Grant McNeill (27) - In my opinion he has been instrumental in this teams return to form. Once he came back the Bears had a willing goalie crasher who will drop the gloves. He fought last night but he seemed to shy away from the front of the net...GMac...just run over the goaltender if he gets in your way!
RW Mark Mancari (25) - He leads the team with 26 goals and 58 points. In his last 4 games he has 3 goals and an assist.
LW Nathan Gerbe (19) - Second on the team with 25 goals he has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 4 games.
LW Mathieu Darche (21) - The former Bear has been one of the most consistent Pirates this season. He is second on the team with 54 points and he has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 4.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!