The season series this year went 12 games between the Phantoms and Bears. 6 games at the Spectrum and 6 at Giant Center. And guess what....the Bears won 8 of those games. In Philly the Bears went 4-1-0-1 with the only regulation loss coming last Friday as the Phantoms drew 15,000 fans for the final regular season game in the building. In Hershey the Bears went 4-1-0-1 and the lone regulation loss was back in November.
So the Bears dominated the season series.
Looking at the scores of those games the Bears outscored the Phantoms 52-38 including 23-20 in Philly. Obviously the overall numbers are skewed a bit by the 9-0 beatdown the Bears put on the Phantoms in November. Most of the games were close as 7 of the 12 were decided by 2 goals or less and extra time was needed in 3 of the games.
Top 3 Point Producers In The Series:
Jonathan Matsumoto - 7 goals and 5 assists
Danny Syvret - 2 goals and 9 assists
Daniel Laliberte - 5 goals and 5 assists
Alexander Giroux - 8 goals and 5 assists
Kyle Wilson - 8 goals and 5 assists
Keith Aucoin - 2 goals and 9 assists
I am sure you were all surprised to see Giroux's name on the list but were you surprised to see Wilson's?? I was surprised that he had done so well this season against the Phantoms to be honest. 13 points in 12 games is pretty good.
Scott Munroe - overall - 31-19-4, 4 shutouts, 2.46 goals against average, and .926 save %.
Against Hershey Munroe is not nearly as good. He is 2-4, with a goals against average over 4, and his save percentage is .874 in the 6 games he played against Hershey. He was also pulled in 2 of his appearances against the Bears. Jean Sebastien Aubin also started 6 games against Hershey and also went 2-4 with a goals against average over 4, and a save percentage of .888. Munroe has been the primary starter this season so I assume he will get the starts in the series.
Michal Neuvirth - overall - 9-5-2, 1 shutout, 2.70 goals against average, and a .913 save %.
He has only played 2 games against Philly. Both of those games were this past weekend and he went 1-1 with about a 3.00 goals against average and a save percentage of .895. Assuming Simeon Varlamov does not return to Hershey expect Neuvirth to get all the starts in the series.
Special Teams in the Series:
overall - 25.7%
in Hershey - 23.7%
in Philly - 28.1%
overall - 15.2%
in Hershey - 23.3%
in Philly - 5.6%
Keys to the Series:
1. Bears Penalty Kill - being that the PK unit is the worst in the league this is a huge concern for Hershey. Also add to that the Phantoms success on the power play against Hershey this season and you can see why this is such a critical part of the series. On the plus side though the Bears still did win the season series even though they were terrible in the special teams department.
2. Bears Depth - If this series goes 7 games the teams will be playing 5 games in 7 days to finish. The scoring depth of the Hershey Bears will come into play if that happens. Of the players on the current rosters that have played in the season series the Bears have 17 guy how have scored against the Phantoms. The Phantoms on the other hand only have 10 players who have scored against Hershey.
3. Crowds - The only game Hershey lost in regulation in Philly this season came in front of their biggest crowd in 9 years. The Phantoms average only 6,500 and last Friday there were over 17,000 in paid attendance. There will not be that many there this Thursday and Friday but back in Hershey you will probably see crowds at or around 8,000 per game minimum. Giant Center can get pretty loud even with only 8,000 people there.
Players That Will Make The Difference:
Personally I feel that the top players don't make the difference in these kinds of series. Sure the Matsumoto's and Giroux's of the series are going to get their points but these players are the ones to watch because their production will be important for their teams.
RW Anreas Nodl (14) - Spent a good amount of time with the Flyers and only played in 4 of the games against Hershey. He scored 1 goal and had 4 assists in those 4 games.
LW Patrick Maroon (16) - Started slow against Hershey scoring only 2 goals in the first 7 games of the season series. In the last 5 games though he has 2 goals and 5 assists.
RW Andrew Gordon (10) - He had 4 goals and 3 assists against the Phantoms this season. Everyone knows that Gordo can be a game breaker but he has been terribly inconsistent since October this year.
C Mathieu Perrault (24) - Against Philly he had 1 goal and 7 assists this season. If Keith Aucoin gets recalled to Washington in the Playoffs he will be taking over as #1 center and will have to produce. He has started to show even more playmaking ability in the past couple weeks so I think he can be a difference maker.
Personally I believe enough in this team that I think they can and should sweep this series. The way they have played against the Phantoms all year gives me confidence even with the game last Friday. But I think the Phantoms got a break getting the first 2 games in Philly and wouldn't be surprised at all if they won the first game of the series. After that I don't see the Bears struggling too much in this series.
Bears in 5
LET'S GO BEARS!!!!