But the stars of the night were Michal Neuvirth and Alexander Giroux. Other than Giroux the Bears offense struggled to even get shots on goal as they finished with 20 and Giroux had 6 of those. Meaning the other 17 skaters only managed 14 shots. Not a great night offensively.
Fortunately for the Bears they didn't need to be great offensively because Neuvy made a very impressive 40 saves during the game and 3 more in the shootout as the Bears skated to a 3-2 shootout victory.
Neuvy was tremendous all game, making huge glove saves and just being in position for everything. Watching play goal is much more relaxing than watching Simeon Varlamov. I can barely watch as Varly jumps, slides, and dives all over the crease while Neuvy is very fluid and always seems to be in position.
You can also credit Neuvy for the penalty kill being perfect on the night. Sure the defense helped some but Neuvy was there for every single shot that they weren't there for. And if it wasn't for a lucky deflection off a skate the Bears would have won in regulation.
But a win is a win and now the Bears have a 4 point lead over Bridgeport and a 5 point lead over the Pens. The Pens do have a game in hand over the Bears and Tigers as they have a 4 in 5 next weekend while the other two only have 3 games remaining.
If you are curious about the 4th place race both Bingo and Philly won and the Sens remain 1 point up on the Phantoms BUT the Phantoms have a game in hand. Unfortunately for the Phantoms that game in hand is against the Bears.
Last night's game against the Penguins showed that this Hershey team can perform in any conditions. They are still without Keith Aucoin as he remains in Washington for the time being and Graham Mink is out for a couple weeks yet. Add to that Bourque had just gotten off a plane! And Giroux was sick with the flu about 24 hours prior. Oh and the Bears had played an overtime game the night before against the 2nd place team in the division ON THE ROAD!
And yet the Bears still went into a rivals building fighting for playoff positioning and came away with a much needed victory.
If I had told you 2 weeks ago that Hershey would take away 3 points from a weekend road trip to Bridgeport and then Wilkes Barre you all would have been ecstatic. And that is exactly what they did.
Good Job Bears!!!
My Three Stars of the Game:
- Michal Neuvirth - 40 saves and many were amazing
- Alexander Giroux - 2 goals was almost all they needed
- Chris Bourque - 2 assists after landing in Harrisburg 2 hours prior
Grading the Performance:
- Offense - C+ - They got enough and that is all that matters but if they continue to only get 2 goals a game they will be in trouble. Coiner should be back before next weekend so that will help a lot. Honestly the offense had pressure but it was mainly around the boards. The one thing I really did like was the crashing of the net. Every shift there was a guy in Curry's way.
- Defense - B - They held the Pens to really 1 goal. I am not going to count the last one because it was a fluke and the Pens know it. There were some questionable plays and some great ones. Pretty average but that is okay with me.
- Goaltending - A - Awesome game from Neuvy. There really isn't much more you can say about it in my opinion. He was in position all night on just about every shot. Not quite as smooth as Carey Price for Hamilton a couple years ago but they play a similar game.
- Power Play - F - TERRIBLE. I don't think Coiner is that important to this unit but they could not get in the zone most of the night. They only got 3 chances but I am not sure they got a single shot with the man advantage.
- Penalty Kill - B+ - The only reason this isn't an A is because they gave up a lot of chances. And if the Pens make a few nicer passes then they probably score a couple. But they did still keep the Pens PP off the board and that deserves something.
- Overall - B - Not a great game and surely not a pretty one but a win is a win. The thing that impresses me most about this game is that the Bears have only won a handful of games this season when they score 3 goals or less. So that makes this game, with it's importance, one of (if not the) biggest win of the season to date. It gives the team confidence that they can still win if they don't score a lot. And that is going to be HUGE come playoff time.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!
1 More Thing:
HOW IN THE HELL does Letestu get 2nd star and Neuvy 3rd star???? AND Bourque is the 1st star while Giroux isn't even there!! I couldn't believe it when I saw that on the score sheet. What is wrong with the crew in Wilkes Barre???