Friday, April 17, 2009

Bears Win Game 1

That was an impressive performance from Hershey last night. I was pleasantly surprised as I thought they might struggle in game 1 against the Phantoms. But really for the most part I think they dominated game 1 winning 4-2 against the home team.

Referee Nygel Pelletier decided prior to last night's game that he was in control and that he would make sure the game was played his way as he called 19 penalties, 16 of which were in the first 2 periods. He actually let the teams play in the third and it was probably the best period of hockey. The only thing you can say about the way he called the game was that it was even. He called 10 penalties on Hershey and 9 on Philadelphia so he did even out his questionable calls.

First let's look at some of the positives from last night:
  • The penalty kill was very good. They faced 7 Phantom power plays and killed off every single one.
  • 4th line of Pinner, Joudrey, and Osala was very very good last night.
  • Bears showed what kind of scoring depth they have as 3 lines scored BUT NONE of the goals came from the top line.

Now, the negatives:
  • Not sure what happened on the Phantoms first goal but a defenseman got caught up in the neutral/offensive zones. I haven't seen a replay but when I do I will confirm this but I think it might have been a bad change. Either way it left one guy (Helmer I believe) back to face a 2 on 1 and it didn't work out.
  • Communication in the Hershey end was pitiful. Multiple times the puck was reversed around the boards but the closest player was a Phantom. You do that too many times and it WILL come back to bite you.
  • Giroux and Aucoin were killing penalties and while it isn't the worst thing I really think there are better players for it. Beagle, Joudrey, Pinner, Bourque, and Gordon should all get called on to kill penalties before the MAG line.
  • Neuvirth played well in net stopping 30 shots to pick up the win but he gave up some really BIG rebounds. And not just a few either. I would say 7-10 nice rebounds that another team might put in the back of the net. Neuvy needs to calm down and control some of those better.

It was a great start to the series though. Hershey came out and played hard from the opening faceoff. They took the body, controlled the puck, and hustled to every loose puck. Coming out of Philly with even 1 win is huge considering 4 of the last 5 are in Hershey. They have accomplished that so now let's go get game 2 as well and all but put the series away!

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Kyle Wilson - a goal and an assist to lead the way. Also got flat robbed on another try that could have been a goal.
  2. Jay Beagle - great all around game. did take a bad penalty early but responded with great hustle and work in the offensive zone and scored the put away goal late in the third.
  3. Jonathan Matsumoto - a goal and an assist for the Phantoms best player. He played well and had a game high 9 shots on goal

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - A - I think one of the best performances in months last night. They played aggressively yet controlled for the entire 60 minutes and it showed on the scoreboard. If they can get 31 shots and 4 goals every game they shouldn't have too much trouble in the playoffs.
  • Defense - B+ - The score sheet says Philly got 32 shots but if they did then half of them were worthless. The D kept players to the outside and didn't allow pucks through the middle for the most part. There are still some defensemen that think they are forwards though. This game it was Staffon Kronwall driving the puck down into the offensive end....this WILL come back to haunt the team if it continues.
  • Goaltending - B - Neuvy played very well don't get me wrong but the big rebounds are going to hurt this team if they continue. Walton thought goal number 2 was soft and I though maybe he could have had the first one too. But only allowed 2 goals on 32 shots so that is good enough.
  • Power Play - B - 1 for 6 wouldn't be very good most nights but considering the Bears had only scored 2 power play goals all season in Philly it wasn't bad. Plenty of good puck movement and good chances.
  • Penalty Kill - B+ - Maybe the best they have played all year but I also feel that they could have been better. On one particular occasion a defenseman got out of position and a Phantom was left alone right in front of the net where he almost scored. There were Phantoms open on the power play but they couldn't connect on passes or missed shots. Overall very good but still room to get better.
  • Overall - B+ - I am probably being a little picky here since it is the playoffs but I think they could have won 6-0 last night. Great game though and a great way to start off the series.


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