All week the issue of team depth has come up regarding the Bears/Bruins series. Apparently the Bruins like to skate with 2 lines and 4 defensemen which is obviously not good for conserving energy late in games. Considering Hershey runs 4 lines all game long this news is definitely good for the Bears.
But how true is it? I can't give you average time on ice for these teams as the AHL.com stats page does not give that information. But I can tell you that 14 different Bruins have scored goals in the postseason. And 20 different players have recorded at least one point. Compare that to Hershey, who has 17 scorers and 23 point producers, and you see that the differences are not that defined.
Now that doesn't mean that the Bears don't have more depth than the Bruins, they absolutely do. But it does mean that the Bruins are obviously skating plenty with more than 2 lines. OR it means that the 3rd and 4th lines are dominant when they play. I am betting on the first part of that.
Sure Hershey's depth is a key to any series. There aren't many teams in the NHL that can run 4 lines all game and produce with all 4 let alone any teams in the AHL that can do it. The depth was the difference in the Philly series and most of the season. (Personally I feel that the defense and goalie play won the Wilkes Barre series) All year the Bears outplayed teams in the third period and it is happening again this series.
In both games so far Hershey has been the better offensive team in the 2nd and 3rd periods. Unfortunately the 1st period has presented the problems. If Providence can score a couple in the first period it doesn't matter how much depth the Bears have because Tuukka Rask is playing too good right now to give up many goals. How he has not been a top 3 star of the game in the first two games is beyond me.
All this talk about Hershey's depth and up to this point it has not included Quintin Laing. But that might change tonight. Reports out of Providence have him as a possible player tonight when the Bruins and Bears resume the series. The question is....who sits if Quintin plays? Pinizzotto? Bouchard? One of them will be sitting already. What about Osala? I know he scored 2 goals in game 1 but has he played well enough otherwise? Do you sit Beagle? Joudrey? How about Gordon, has he done enough to remain? Do you sit Perrault? Reid?
My money would be that Reid sits since they are similar players but Reid has played very good the past couple weeks. With the exception of the late penalty in game 2 I would say he has been one of the best players in recent games.
It sure will be nice to get Lainger back in the game and back killing penalties. Now if he could just get Tyler Sloan to stay in position.
Players to Watch:
C Jay Beagle (14) - It is only a matter of time until he puts 2 in the net in one game. One of the hardest working Bears all year.
LW - Chris Bourque (17) - Can he ignore the attention he will get playing in New England? He needs to step up his game and produce something other than losing his helmet.
C - Keith Aucoin (11) - Another New England born player but he has the extra motivation of wanting to win a cup. He needs to start shooting, stop trying to beat entire teams, and helping to produce.
RW Brad Marchand (12) - He already has a goal and an assist in the series which gives him a team best 6 goals and 7 assists in the postseason.
C Martin St. Pierre (39) - He is leading the team in points this postseason with 14 in 13 games after leading them in points during the season with 66.
G Tuukka Rask (30) - If the Bruins win the series it will because Hershey couldn't solve the big Finnish goalie.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!