Monday, March 2, 2009

Hershey Outscores Providence

In the last 5 games the Bears have allowed 22 goals (not counting Bingo's goal for winning the shootout), which isn't usually followed by this statement: The Bears have gotten at least 1 point in 5 straight games. The reason this can be said now is because Hershey has scored 26 goals in those 5 games.

This past week didn't start off all that well. A trip up to Binghamton that saw the Sens erase a 3 goal Bears lead as Hershey fell in a shootout. But it ended pretty well for Hershey too. 2 straight wins and some solid goaltending to win both of the weekend home games.

There are obviously still some concerns moving forward with penalties and a couple other things but as long as the offense continues to crash the net and get the ugly goals this team should be fine for now.

Penalties, especially when you are already down one player, just can't happen with that frequency. At one point in the third period of last night's game the Bears were skating with 4 players for almost 8 full minutes and surprise...they let in a goal. And then at the end of the game after Alexandre Giroux got a major penalty Tyler Sloan took a high sticking penalty that almost cost Hershey their lead. Providence pulled the goalie and played 6 on 3 for the final minute and a half. They managed to score one goal and had another one go in as time expired. Had they had some more time there would have been major concerns.

But other than the penalties the other issues that have plagued this team through the past month plus have (for now) been solved. The physical play in front of their own net has improved this weekend and the physical play down low in the offensive zone was much improved on Saturday and Sunday. That type of play HAS to continue. If they slip back into their bad habits of playing cute they will struggle again.

It was a good weekend and another step to returning to the dominant team from early in the season. But if you are giving up 22 goals every 5 games you are RARELY going to get 8 points in those 5 games.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Chris Bourque - 2 goals and an assist and a lot of hustle all weekend
  2. Mathieu Perrault - 3 assists and another guy that hustled all weekend
  3. Martin St. Pierre - He also had 3 assists for the Bruins and kept them in the game

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - A - Easily the best performance in a few weeks. To get 6 goals on 33 shots is a big change from the past month when the team was only getting a goal or 2 on 40 shots. Tons of traffic in front of the net caused problems for Rask all game long. And cycling the puck consistently caused the Bruins to tire early.
  • Defense - B - They did much better. The 4th goal was a 6 on 3 so there wasn't too much they could do. The one problem I STILL have is players getting stuck down low. And last night Sean Collins did it early (on Providence's 1st goal), he took the puck to the corner in the Bruins end and when it went the other way it was only Tyler Sloan back to stop it. A defenseman's first responsibility is to remain in position, if you get caught in deep which players (Lepisto, Collins, Sloan) continue to do it is going to lead to goals.
  • Goaltending - B - Daren Machesney played very well especially in the third period again. He finished the night with 24 saves on 28 shots including 10 in the third period. Still some room for improvement but it is getting better from Cheese.
  • Power Play - C - 0 for 4. Not good. They did get some pressure and managed to get some looks but it needs to be more consistent. Some games they get 2 or 3 power play goals while other games they get none. Not terrible but not good either.
  • Penalty Kill - B - Better. They were out there for 10 total chances and only allowed 2 goals and one was a 6 on 3 which is not going to be stopped by too many teams.
  • Overall - B+ - One of the better games since the calendar turned to 09. There are obviously still problems cause you can't continuously give up 4 or 5 goals and get wins BUT the offense has improved and the goals being scored on Hershey are more impressive then they were a few weeks ago. They are on the right track to getting back to the team they were.


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