Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bears Looking For Sweep Friday!


The Bears need 1 more win to move onto the second round and that win could come at home Friday night in game number 4.

Hershey got goals from Staffon Kronwall, Mathieu Perrault, and Alexander Giroux and Michal Neuvirth made 25 saves as the Bears won 3-2 over the Phantoms.

There was some suspense in this one though. While the penalty kill has been phenomenal the power play actually allowed a goal last night when Lasse Kukkonen scored at 6:19 of the third to make it 3-2.

After that there was another scare as the Phantoms actually did put the puck in the net but a penalty was called on the Phantoms prior to the goal. And by prior I mean at the same time. This all happened with just under 3 minutes to go when a Phantom, Nate Raduns according to the score sheet, decided to take a Bear and hold him on the ice just to Neuvy's left.

Fortunately for Hershey referee Francis Charron was standing right beside the incident and immediately blew the whistle. After seeing the replay it was an obvious penalty but the question will be, did it happen before the puck went in. Surely the Phantoms don't think so but I think the right call was made, but it was a lot closer than you think.

The Bears got passed that and then put the game away by not allowing the Phantoms out of their zone in the final seconds so Scott Munroe had to stay in his crease and the extra attacker could not come on.

John Walton has been somewhat critical of Neuvy this postseason especially after games 1 and 2. I will agree that maybe a goal or two were questionable and might have been stoppable but I personally think Neuvy has performed at a top level in all three games. Shutouts are not common and if you offer this team 2 goals allowed in every game I am pretty sure they would be okay with that.

The thing you have to remember with goalies is that they will allow goals that those of us who aren't goalies think are stoppable. The question and criticism of some goalies is the timing and amount of those goals. Personally I think Neuvy has played very well in all 3 games and his numbers support that theory. 2.01 goals against, .930 save percentage, and a 3-0 record.

You can't ask for much more than that.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Alexander Giroux - a goal and 2 assists including the game winning goal in the 3rd period
  2. Michal Neuvirth - 25 saves on 27 shots
  3. Steve Pinizzotto - no points but a few big hits that really set the tone for the game

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - B - Probably the weakest performance of the series to date. Sure they had 3 goals and 27 shots but they could have had more. It was a little tougher it seems for them to cycle down low as the Phantoms played probably their best game so far.
  • Defense - A - Another huge performance from this group. They have absolutely stepped up their game in the playoffs. Kronwall was injured in the game and his status is unknown for Friday. That would be a loss for this team and it will be curious to see who gets into the lineup.
  • Goaltending - A - Positionally Neuvy is one of the better goalies we have seen here in Hershey. His confidence is obviously high and he is challenging shooters more and more. Another great performance.
  • Power Play - A - 2 for 5...40%. I can live with that. The unit has been dominant in the series and is a big part in the teams success.
  • Penalty Kill - A - This unit is the biggest part of the success. They absolutely struggled against the Phantoms during the season but have stepped up their play in the postseason and aren't allowing anything right now.
  • Overall - B+ - I think they played well enough for an A but it wasn't quite complete. Not sure what was missing but it might have just been how much better the Phantoms played. Philly came out like they had to but Hershey held them off. Now the Bears have a chance to sweep the rival Phantoms and end AHL hockey in Philadelphia for a while.


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