Obviously we all know how important this game is tonight. So far the Bears and Pens have played 6 games head to head and the Bears have struggled going 1-3-0-2. And that one win was the first game of the season.
The games have all been pretty close though. The last 2 have ended 4-3 in shootouts and only 2 games (the Bears win and one Pens win) were decided by more than 1 goal. In fact if you take away the 2 goals the Pens were awarded for the shootout victories these teams have been almost identical with the Pens outscoring Hershey 25-23 in 6 games.
You can't get much closer than that. But Hershey needs to climb back into the win column against the Pens tonight. This is the first of 4 games remaining between the clubs and 3 of those will be in Hershey.
A few weeks ago Hershey was almost 10 points up in the division but now they are only 7 points out of 4th place Binghamton. Bridgeport, who visits tomorrow, is 3 points ahead of Hershey and the Baby Pens are in position to jump Hershey with a win tonight.
Just when Hershey needs a big win the Pens might have gotten stronger. Miroslav Satan cleared waivers and is listed on the Pens roster. He hasn't not played a game yet for the Baby Pens but tonight could be his debut. The veteran NHLer was struggling a bit in Pittsburgh but he still had 17 goals and 19 assists this season. If he brings that kind of production to the AHL he could add a whole other dimension to the Baby Pens.
The Giant Center is sold out and a playoff like atmosphere is expected tonight in Hershey. This weekend will tell us all a lot about what this Bears team is capable of. If Hershey can win at least one of the two games it will be an step in the right direction. But what they really needs is two victories over their two main rivals for playoff positioning. Hopefully they can pull it off.
record ~ 40-18-1-6 87 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
playoff positioning - 3 pts behind 1st; 1 pt ahead of 3rd
most recent game ~ 3-2 SO Loss vs Springfield, 3/11
last 5 games ~ 3-1-0-1
home record ~ 22-8-0-3
goals for ~ 249
goals against ~201
power play ~ 18.6% (8th)
penalty kill ~ 79.2% (29th)
record ~ 41-21-2-2 86 points
standings ~ 3rd in East Division
playoff positioning ~ 1 point behind 2nd; 6 pts ahead of 4th
most recent game ~ 4-1 Win @ Albany, 3/13
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
road record ~ 18-14-1-0
goals for ~ 229
goals against ~ 177
power play ~ 18.0% (11th)
penalty kill ~ 83.8% (12th)
last time teams met - Hershey lost in a shootout 4-3 on January 30 in Wilkes Barre.
Players to watch:
C Kyle Wilson (18)- He is third on the team in goals with 24. But he hasn't scored a goal in 5 games but does have 4 assists in that period.
Defense - This unit has to be better starting tonight. We aren't going to see Greg Amadio much during the regular season but guys like Helmer and Lepisto have to start playing better.
G Simeon Varlamov (31) - He appears to be healthy and he made some great saves Wednesday just to keep Hershey in the game but he needs to be at his absolute best tonight.
LW Janne Pesonen (25) - Team leader in points with 66. He has 8 goals and 9 assists in his last 9 games.
C Matt Letestu (10) - He is third on the team in points but has been solid recently. 3 goals and 6 assists in his last 6 games.
LW Miroslav Satan (81) - The NHL veteran had 17 goals and 19 assists with the Pittsburgh Penguins this season before getting sent down.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!