Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Look Back....February 09

February 2009:

Record going into the month : : 33-12-0-4
Points entering the month : : 70
Place in standings entering month : : 1st

Games in February : : 12
Record in February : : 5-5-1-1
Points earned in February : : 12
Points left on the table : : 12
Home record in February : : 3-3-0-0
Road record in February : : 2-2-1-1

Three Stars for February:
  1. Keith Aucoin - His month was incredible. He played in all 12 games in February and accounted for 20 points (4 goals and 16 assists). And to make things even better....he recorded a point in every game of the month. Oh and you want more....with regards to plus/minus he was either even or plus in every game of the month.
  2. Graham Mink - This was his month to shine as far as scoring goes. January was Giroux's month but February was Minks. He scored 10 goals and added 5 assists in 12 games last month.
  3. Alexander Giroux - He only played in 10 games this month due to a call up he managed to get points in 9 of those games. He scored 5 goals and assisted on 8 others in 13 games.

How did the Bears do this month?

This team struggled mightily for most of February. The scoring wasn't there at the beginning of the month as they only scored 3 goals twice in the first 8 games and this team isn't strong when they score 3 goals or less. And it didn't help that the goaltending for the month of February was definitely below average.

The goalies, Daren Machesney and Kris Mayotte, just couldn't get any consistency out of their play. It wasn't all their fault though since some of the blame could be placed on the defense but some big saves would have helped occasionally. Their numbers look pretty similar for the month as they each have goals against averages over 3.70 (Cheese 3.72; Kris 3.84) and save percentages below .850 (Cheese .844; Kris .843). They each showed great potential in a couple games and both showed why they are destined for the bench in others.

As I previously mentioned the defense was bad most of the month. Many of the goals given up by the goaltenders would have been difficult for NHL All Stars to stop because guys were getting wide open looks from the circles or worse yet they were left untouched at the edge of the crease. None of the defenseman did anything to warrant large accolades as they were all to blame at some point or another.

Fortunately the Bears seem to be turning the corner as the month has ended. In the past week the defense has improved, Machesney has regained some confidence, and the offense has regained their scoring touch. With those things being fixed the team is heading in the right direction as we get into March.

A look ahead at March:

Games in March : : 13
Home games : : 7
Road games : : 6
4 in 5 weekends : : 1 (ends March 29)
Games against division : : 5

Games to Pay Attention to in March:
  • 2 home games against Wilkes Barre (3/14, 3/29)
  • 2 home games against Bridgeport (3/15 , 3/28 )
  • 1 game @ Bingo (3/27)
This is a tough and very important month. 5 divisional games and all are against the other current playoff teams in the division. Fortunately 4 of those 5 games are at home so it should make it easier. Other than those 5 games there are 5 against the Atlantic division and 3 against the Western conference including 2 against Toronto.

Expectations for March:

Honestly I think the expectations should be high. After the way the team has rebounded late in February I expect to see at least a winning record through March. And you add to their improved play the return (hopefully) of Simeon Varlamov should help the goaltending and in turn the defense.

This month will determine where Hershey finishes in the division. While I really don't think there is much chance they miss the playoffs I am not sold that they can hold on to the division lead. Wilkes Barre is currently 4 points back and Bridgeport is only 6 back. So every game against those teams matter and there are 4 total this month.

I think out of a possible 26 points 16 or 17 is definitely manageable. With more of those coming in the form of wins, not overtime or shootout losses.


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