Monday, April 27, 2009

Bears End Philadelphia Phantoms

What a game on Friday! Both goalies showed up and played huge for their teams but only one made it out of Hershey with a win. And that would be Michal Neuvirth.

In a somewhat surprising move, a move that in my opinion should have come in game 3, the Phantoms went with Jean-Sebastion Aubin for game 4 and he was excellent. Although to give the Bears some credit I think the score could have been 4-0 if some of the Hershey shots actually hit the net.

Either way both goaltenders played great. Neuvy ended with 23 saves while Aubin had 29 of his own.

Hershey completed the sweep, finished the series perfect on the penalty kill, and ended the Phantoms run in Philadelphia.

The key to the game was probably the 5 on 3 penalty kill in the second period. Philly had a two man advantage for almost 2 full minutes and they spent almost the entire time in the Hershey end and couldn't get the puck in the net. The crowd was going nuts after that and for the most part it sealed the deal as far as momentum goes.

Oh and the other thing that killed momentum for the Phantoms was Neuvy's stop on Jonathan Matsumoto's penalty shot. Which occurred because Chris Bourque wasn't thinking. I understand hustling to get back but you can't give up a penalty shot in the playoffs. But Neuvy stepped up and saved Bourque as he stoned Moto's try.

Graham Mink scored his first of the playoffs early in the second period. Most thought there would be more scoring after that and while both teams came really close neither could beat the opposing goalie.

I thought the MAG line was exceptional Friday night. They played hard at both ends and ended up with multiple chances. The line I think left something to be desired was the Wilson, Gordon, and Bouchard line. That line was easily the least effective of the four although they did get their chances and have produced this postseason.

Next up is the Penguins from up north. The series starts Saturday in Hershey an I will have a series preview mid week.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Michal Neuvirth - shutout, 23 saves, huge when needed
  2. Jean-Sebastien Aubin - 1 goal allowed, 29 saves, huge when needed
  3. Graham Mink - excellent game, GWG plus led the game with 6 shots

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - B - 30 shots is good and yes Aubin played great but there were opportunities to be had and they just didn't make them. They need to convert on every chance they get in the second round or they could be in trouble.
  • Defense - A - Great job. There are at times a few players standing around but for the most part it was a great night. I thought Sean Collins did a good job. He missed a couple passes but not anything that other players don't do as well. The crowd was hard on Collins for a couple things that they wouldn't even notice if Alzner or Amadio did them.
  • Goaltending - A - Some incredible saves to get the shutout. He is playing as well as any goaltender right now. He looks so calm and relaxed in net. His confidence is soaring too.
  • Power Play - B - Poor showing to be honest. It wasn't terrible though as they did get many chances and almost scored a few. Philly did a good job of clogging the middle and blocking shots and passes.
  • Penalty Kill - A+ - The 5 on 3 was amazing. For a good 90 seconds the same 3 players for Hershey (Joudrey and Arsene were two, Alzner might have been the third) stayed in position and blocked shots and passes. To keep them off the board on that try was huge.
  • Overall - B+ - A good game. It shows that Hershey can win games doing anything. If they need to score there are plenty of options. If there is a low scoring game, Neuvy can shut a team down. This team is playing its best hockey of the season at the right time.


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