Hershey begins a 2 game road trip late this afternoon with a 4:00 face off in Toronto against the Marlies. Tomorrow evening the Bears make a stop in Cleveland to play the Lake Erie Monsters.
But first up are the Marlies. They are currently in the playoffs in the West but are just in at this time so every game means more to them. And being at home is an added bonus. They have not played an overtime game at home since 12/27 and are 11-5 over that stretch. They had actually lost 3 in a row before winning their most recent home game.
One player to keep an eye on for Toronto is Jiri Tlusty (he is mentioned below). He has been on an absolute tear over the past few weeks. In his last 14 games he has 14 goals and 17 assists. Yeah you read that right...he is averaging over 2 points per game in his last 14 games. That includes 3 games that he has recorded at least 4 points. So he is one player to watch.
Fortunately for the Bears they have a spy in their locker room. Staffon Kronwall was playing in this town and in this arena just a few weeks ago before getting claimed by the Capitals on waivers. Since then he has played sparingly in Washington before getting sent to Hershey this week. He is expected to make his Bears debut against a team that he played for as recently as January 31st.
Some other good news for Hershey is that for the next few games the Bears will have the services of Brian Pothier. Pothier has missed about a year of hockey now with serious concussion issues that have put his future in doubt. If he has any setbacks it is more than likely that he will be forced to retire. So let's all hope that he is symptom free and that he can make a return to full time player.
And also Simeon Varlamov is set to return to action this weekend. I haven't heard whether or not that will come tonight but it could. He has been out since January 14th due to a knee injury. Hopefully he can get a couple wins for Hershey over the next week or so cause he won't be around long. It is assumed that once he has a few games under his belt he is headed up to Washington and Neuvirth will return for Hershey. Apparently Washington feels (as do I) that Varly is more NHL ready at this point than Neuvirth so he will be up there for the foreseeable future.
record ~ 39-17-1-5 84 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
playoff positioning - 2 points ahead of 2nd place
most recent game ~ 6-4 Win vs Providence, 3/1
last 5 games ~ 3-0-1-1
road record ~ 17-9-1-3
goals for ~ 238
goals against ~191
power play ~ 18.3% (8th)
penalty kill ~ 79.4% (29th)
record ~ 31-24-2-5 69 points
standings ~ 4th in North Division
playoff positioning ~ 9 points behind 3rd; 3 points ahead of 5th
most recent game ~ 2-0 Loss @ Hamilton, 3/6
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
home record ~ 19-11-0-2
goals for ~ 194
goals against ~ 179
power play ~ 20.5% (4th)
penalty kill ~ 81.9% (20th)
last time teams met - First meeting of the season. Toronto won both games between the teams last season.
Players to watch:
C Mathieu Perrault (24)- He has been one of the best forwards in the recent weeks and he has begun producing again. He currently has a 5 game point streak and has 1 goal and 6 assists over that span.
RW Graham Mink (21) - He is on a 4 game scoring streak. During the streak he has 5 goals and 4 assists.
C Keith Aucoin (11) - His point streak still isn't being talked about but it is now at 13 games after he collected 2 assists in the last game.
LW Jiri Tlusty (41) - He leads the team with 23 goals on the season and is second in points. In his last 14 games he has 14 goals and 17 assists including 3 goals and 8 assists in last 4 games.
C Tim Stapleton (17) - Leads the team in points with 58. In his last 3 games he has 2 goals and 4 assists.
RW Jeremy Williams (19) - He is second on the team in goals with 18 and in his last 10 games he has 7 goals and 5 assists. He has only played 29 games for the Marlies this season.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!