Monday, May 18, 2009

Bears Rise to the Challenge Against Bruins

Last time I wrote something I said something to the effect of having a preview of the series up...well obviously I didn't get around to doing that.

But I am back now so let's take a look at games 1 and 2 and maybe glance forward and see what this weeks games could look like.

If you were surprised by how the Bears came out Saturday then you haven't been paying attention. I said all day that I was worried because I didn't think they were going to be 'up' enough for the game. And unfortunately I was right. It should have been expected though.


Just finished a great 7 game series against public enemy #1
Got to hear all week how the East division is so good and always beats the Atlantic
Got to hear about how good Neuvirth has been playing and how he can win games for them
and Heard how they were supposed to win in 5 games.

Add to all that the Bruins had to listen to how good the East division, Hershey, and Neuvy are. They came in with a purpose and it was obvious from the start of the game.

And before anyone comments that the team shouldn't have a problem getting 'up' for a game let me remind you that in happens in every sport at every level....Caps/Rangers ring a bell with anyone?

I was actually pretty confident when they went down 2-0 in the first on Saturday. I honestly thought that would be the best thing for them. And it was...right after the second goal they started playing much better. Why? Because they could relax and just start playing again. They didn't have to worry about falling behind because they already had.

After that they controlled the game. I still think Providence played very well after the first period but the Bears at least evened out the game if they didn't win the last 2 periods.

Fast forward to Saturday night and I thought the Bears looked MUCH better in the entire game. Yes I know they didn't get a shot in the first like 16 minutes but that is because all the shots were just wide or were blocked. It wasn't like they weren't getting pressure on Rask. They were firing shots they just weren't hitting the goalie.

Personally I thought they played fine Sunday in the first period. Many of you in the stands would probably argue with me considering there were actually a few boos raining down but if you paid attention to the game and not the stats you would have seen that they actually played much of the period in the Bruins zone. AND don't forget that the Bruins didn't have many shots in that period either. In fact they only had 6 to the Bears 5. I would say the Bears chances were much better in that period too. Just a couple near misses.

After that period Hershey absolutely dominated the game. If not for a goal on a late power play Neuvy probably would have earned the shootout. Even still the game was not as close as the score indicated.

Now looking ahead I would say there is one thing that worries me...the Bruins power play. In 2 games they have scored 3 goals on 6 chances. That equals a 50% conversion rate. If they can continue at that clip the Bears are in BIG trouble. It isn't a vaunted power play and at even strength they can not compete but the Hershey penalty kill better step up big time.

Some random thoughts and observations:
  • I thought Tyler Sloan played okay this weekend. He still pinches in to liberally and gets caught. And did anyone else notice that the PK was phenomenal in games 6/7 against the Pens with Collins and McNeill and when Sloan comes back it goes in the tank again? He has been on the ice for ALL 3 Bruin PP goals. Come on Tyler...I know you can play but start paying more attention on the PK!!
  • Why was Pinner scratched Sunday? I thought he played very well Saturday night but he did take some big hits so maybe it was a injury thing. Either way I thought Bouchard played good on Sunday but I would sit him in favor of Pinner if he is healthy.
  • Beagle has been fantastic since coming back down. He struggles some with the skill moves and play in the offensive end but that isn't his game anyhow. I love the Beags and Perrault together. They compliment each other nicely.
  • This is for Keith Aucoin....SHOOT!! I know you want to pass and I commend you for that but at this stage in the season when your team is struggling to get pucks on Rask let alone passed him please SHOOT more. We all know you can us again though.
  • The Bears are going to have to get Rask moving side to side to beat him. That is one of this teams specialties though so it shouldn't be hard. He is a very big goalie and plays an upright style so beating him high isn't going to work much. And the low shots are all getting blocked so getting him going side to side is absolutely the best (and possibly only) way to beat him consistently.

Oh and just in case you wanted to know I WOULD have said Bears in 5 as well. I don't think that will happen now but that is what I would have said.


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