Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bears Take 2-0 Series Lead

Well last night could not have started much worse....but it couldn't have ended much better either! Hershey fell behind early 2-0 before rallying with 6, yes 6, unanswered goals to take a 2-0 series lead back to Giant Center.

The first half of the first period did not go well. The first goal came only 53 seconds into the game and the second goal came less then 6 minutes later. That second goal is on 2 forwards. I am not sure who it was but 2 guys decided that a good time to make a line change was when Philly was moving the puck into the zone. By far one of the worst line changes I have seen this year and the Phantoms went right down and scored.

Fortunately the defense responded with 2 goals of their own. Bryan Helmer scored in the first and Staffon Kronwall scored late in the 2nd to make it 2-2 after 2.

Then came the third period....and possibly the end of the Phantoms in Philadelphia. Less then 3 minutes into the period Alexander Giroux scored on the power play to give Hershey a lead they would never relinquish.

The game continued 3-2 for the next 10 minutes before Mathieu Perrault put a shot by Munroe. Then came an empty netter from Steve Pinizzotto and a final nail in the coffin power play from Francois Bouchard.

The penalty kill remains perfect this postseason while the power play was lights out last night going 3 for 6.

And I will say this too....give me Ryan Fraser over Nygel Pelletier any day of the week. Fraser did a tremendous job all game in every aspect. If Nygel had called last nights game we might have seen an entire game played with guys in the penalty box because there were little scrums after every whistle.

Now the series returns to Hershey for Wednesday nights game 3 and the Bears have 3 home games to win 2 to end this series and avoid a return trip to the city of Brotherly Love.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Steve Pinizzotto - the goal was overall meaningless but he played another great game
  2. Keith Aucoin - 2 assists including the game winning assist
  3. Michal Neuvirth - 25 saves including some very big stops

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - A - 6 goals on 33 shots.....not too bad at all. Constant pressure and excellent work down low to keep possession. Passing, skating, hitting, it was all there last night from the forwards and the defensemen in the offensive zone. And the scoring depth...WOW. Every line has scored already and we are only 2 games into the playoffs. I am loving the new lines too. The Beagle/Bourque/Perrault line is really clicking and so is the Gordon/Wilson/Bouchard combo.
  • Defense - A - Excellent. This unit has really stepped up their play and last night was very good. Sure they struggled initially but as I mentioned before the 2nd goal allowed was due to a poor change from the forwards. Lots of hitting, solid positioning, and maybe most importantly fewer times caught up ice. Oh and 2 goals from the unit is always good in the playoffs.
  • Goaltending - A - The save in the third period with the stick on the goalline was PHENOMENAL! Walton did not do it justice on the call I can tell you that. The puck snuck through his pads and was inching towards the line when Neuvy brought his stick back and paddled it away AS IT WAS CROSSING THE LINE! The puck had to be almost completely across when he got it.
  • Power Play - A - As mentioned above they went .500 with the extra man and that is phenomenal as well. Considering they scored 2 power play goals ALL SEASON in Philly and they had 3 last night was great.
  • Penalty Kill - A - 5 chances...NO GOALS ALLOWED. I would be curious to know if they have shut out an opposing power play 2 games in a row all season. This group has come to play in the postseason....just keep it up.
  • Overall - A - Great game. Much better then Wednesday night in my opinion. They were down 2-0 and fought back by playing sound hockey. They didn't take too many outrageous risks and they managed to get 6 in a row. Now all they need is 2 in a row to eliminate the Phantoms and end the turnpike rivalry for good.


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