The Bears are in an interesting position right now. They could conceivably play any of the other 4 teams currently fighting for the playoffs. If they win the division they will play either Binghamton or Philadelphia. If they slip to 2nd or 3rd they would play either Bridgeport or Wilkes-Barre.
So who should they want to play...or who will probably put up the least resistance?
Let's look at it team by team.
Bridgeport Sound Tigers:
They are playing pretty well as they have won 3 straight and finish with games against Springfield and Lowell this weekend.
So far this season the Bears are 4-1-1-0 against the Tigers so they have fared well against them so far.
The thing with the Tigers is that they are getting more help then any of the other teams after Sunday. Kurtis McLean, Jesse Joensuu, Blake Comeau, and Jack Hillen will all be returning from the Islanders after the Isles final game this weekend. That is one defenseman short of an entire line. Now McLean and Joensuu spent most of the season in Bridgeport so it isn't too bad but still that is some nice help to get.
Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins:
They have won 4 of their last 5 but have 4 games to go. They will be tired after this weekend as they have a 4 in 5 to close out the season and they visit Hershey Sunday for their season finale.
Hershey has only gone 3-4-0-2 against the Baby Pens this season but they have won 2 of the past 3. Most of the games have been very close with only 2 games (1 win for each) that was decided by more than a goal.
As of now there is not a single player on the Pittsburgh roster that will be heading back to Wilkes Barre when their season ends. According to their clear day roster all of the players eligible to play for the Baby Pens are already there.
Still though they have a very formidable lineup and are second in the league in scoring this season (trailing only Hershey). And for the first 2/3 of the season they seemed to have Hershey's number. Has that changed?
Philly is the hottest team in the division right now. They have won 6 straight and are currently in position to make the playoffs. They have three games left starting tonight in Albany and then 2 games against Hershey this weekend.
Hershey has dominated the season series this year going 7-1-0-2 so far. With two games to go Philly can make that a little more respectable though.
I was surprised that Claude Giroux was NOT on the clear day roster for the Phantoms. Although it probably wouldn't matter since the Flyers are in the playoffs but I thought he would be an option. When (not if) the Flyers are eliminated from the playoffs Andreas Nodl, Darrell Powe, and Ryan Parent will join the Phantoms if they are still alive.
If the Bears play Philly it would be in the first round so none of those pieces are really in play.
Bingo is playing poorly at the wrong time. They have lost 4 of their last 6 and are now on the outside looking in on the playoffs. They do have 3 games remaining and it is an easier schedule then the Phantoms have with games against Syracuse and Albany on the road and Norfolk at home but they might need to win all three.
Hershey dominated the first part of the season but have since only won once in the last 4 or 5 games. Overall the season series is 4-2-1-1 in favor of the Bears but most of those losses have come in the past couple months.
Another surprise for the Senators organization was Brian Elliott not being on the clear day roster. So that is one good thing because Ottawa will be sending players to Bingo after this weekend. But only 2. Brendan Bell and Brian Lee are on the clear day roster but being that both play defense it really won't help their scoring too much. Ryan Shannon is another that I thought would be on the clear day roster but he isn't.
They are still a dangerous team but not nearly as much as they could have been.
So who should we root for?
My vote goes to Binghamton to be honest. Originally I would have said Philly because I assumed Bingo was going to get a few pieces back but after looking at their clear day roster I am not too worried.
**let me say this though...I am NOT an expert on AHL roster moves so I do not know if there are exceptions that would allow other players to return from Ottawa**
I think Philly is very dangerous right now too. They are playing great and the games with the Bears are usually pretty close. That is why I vote for Bingo over Philly.
Now if the Bears lose the division crown I would rather see Bridgeport. Sure they have been good all season and are playing pretty well but Hershey has managed to beat them more times than not.
The team I least want to see at all in the playoffs is Wilkes Barre. Mainly because they have controlled the Bears this season and have looked very good each time the two teams play.
So really I am just rooting for Hershey to win all 3 games this weekend, clinch first place, and help get Bingo into the playoffs. If that happens I will be very happy.
But if it doesn't, I am still confident in this team and I truly believe that in a 7 game series the veterans on this team can beat any other team in this league!
Who do you want to see in Round 1? Vote on the poll to the right and tell me why in the comments.