Neuvirth has now recorded 4 shutouts this playoff season which is 1 off the franchise record of 5. ALL of his shutouts have come at home including 2 in clinching games. But that only tells part of the story...check out his stats at home:
win/lose - 8-1
save % - .959
gaa - 1.11
That is ridiculous and in all respect to Alexandre Giroux and his 25 points in the playoffs...right now Neuvirth IS your playoff MVP.
Neuvy was spectacular again last night as he made save after save and managed to stop everything whether he saw it or not. The 5 on 3 penalty kill in the second was great for momentum and it solidified Neuvirth (in my mind anyway) as the MVP of this team right now.
The defense was great too though. They took the body, cleared the puck, blocked numerous shots, and just played sound positionally hockey. The being in position part is critical against a team like Manitoba too. The Moose are good and they WILL take advantage of mistakes but last night Hershey didn't make many and the ones they did make were masked by the play of Neuvy.
Secondary scoring is still a problem in my eyes. Yes Graham Mink and Quintin Laing scored last night but Laing's was an empty net goal so that barely counts. BUT even though I consider this a problem the fact remains you only have to score more than the other team...it doesn't matter how you do it or who does it...if you score more you win.
I do have to give credit to one player in particular last night who I thought played as well as anyone on the ice...Chris Bourque. Lots of fans have a problem with him and they are paying so that is their right BUT last night you have to acknowledge that he played an incredible game. The penalty he took WAS a penalty (one should have been called on the Moose too though) but I don't think it was a terrible penalty as far as what was going on. He hustled all night, moved the puck as well as anyone, and played every aspect of the game as well as it can be played.
Now onto tonight's game. IF Hershey is too win tonight they better be ready in the first period. Manitoba is up against it now...they do not want to go down 3-1 in this series and will come out firing. There was some extra curricular activities after the final whistle last night and players like Steve Pinizzotto and Dean Arsene need to keep their heads on in the early stages of tonight's game. NO BAD PENALTIES!! The Moose will probably bring the physical game early and see if they can force some penalties on the 'hotheads' on Hershey's bench. If they do it will make for an interesting game.
Great job last night Bears.....2 to go!! Let's get 1 tonight!!
My Three Stars of the Game:
- Michal Neuvirth - 28 saves to record the previously mentioned shutout
- Graham Mink - game winner (first goal of game) by going to the net hard
- Chris Bourque - best player on the ice in my opinion
Grading the Performance:
- Offense - B+ - Should have been more in my opinion. I know Coiner missed an open net and a couple other guys did to as the puck seemed to bounce at bad times. Still only 24 shots on a goalie of Schneider's caliber is not enough. But they made good use of the shots they took and if they do it again they will win again.
- Defense - A - The entire unit did great. Karl Alzner played for the first time since game 4 against the Pens and he was great last night. Very steady...very heady play from the kid...he will be missed next season as he moves to the Caps. Tyler Sloan was also VERY good last night. He has definitely taken some heat this season but last night he showed why the Caps have so much faith in him.
- Goaltending - A+ - What else can I say? Amazing!
- Power Play - A - They only had 3 opportunities as Koharski elected to let NUMEROUS calls for BOTH teams go last night but they converted on 2 of the 3. Excellent job moving the puck. It is nice to see a team not pressure as much as Providence or Wilkes Barre as it gives our guys time to set up.
- Penalty Kill - A - While Manitoba has done well on the power play this series most of those have come with 5 on 3 advantages. Seeing them kill off a 5 on 3 was great for the team and for momentum. Awesome game from this unit...GREAT HUSTLE to get pucks out of the zone.
- Overall - A - I said at the beginning that this reminded me off the last 2 of the Wilkes Barre series...those were some of the most complete games I have seen all season from this team. Tim Leone said the other day that this team was playing as well as they have all season and I would have disagreed with him then...but now....absolutely. Great game all around and if they can do it 2 more times in the next 3 days we will get to see the Cup in Hershey!!
LET'S GO BEARS!!!!