Everyone lining up on the blue line for the Bears tonight EXCEPT Karl Alzner struggled mightily and yes that includes wonder kid John Carlson. Of particular concern was Bryan Helmer who was out of position for more than one of the Wilkes Barre goals tonight. He was paired up with rookie Zach Miscovic so maybe it was a case of him trying to cover too much for the rook but either way he struggled to stay in position.
But he wasn't the only one as each of the Bears defenders struggled at times. And the goaltending was shaky at best in my opinion. The first goal by Ryan Bayda absolutely should have been stopped and honestly it just didn't look like Neuvirth was focused for much of the night. Honestly it seems as though Neuvirth is still suffering from a bit of send-down-itis after not making the Caps out of camp.
The best goaltender I have seen for the Bears this season was hands down Braden Holtby. He seemed to want it more than Neuvy has so far. Not sure what it is but Neuvy seems a bit over confident maybe.
The offense managed to give the team a chance with a few fluky goals in the 3rd. Francois Bouchard scored his first 2 goals of the season to lead Hershey while Darren Reid (3rd) and Andrew Gordon (5th) added the other 2.
It was an exciting game between the I-81 rivals but I thought the Pens absolutely outplayed Hershey tonight. If it wasn't for a couple fluke goals Hershey would have lost this game 5-2 or worse.
Missed chances, poor positioning, and inconsistent goaltending doomed the team from the opening faceoff.
My Three Stars of the Game:
- Luca Caputi - 2 goals and an assist
- Ryan Bayda - 1 goal and an assist but was overall responsible for eventual game winner as he screened Neuvy completely
- Francois Bouchard - tried to keep Hershey in with 2 goals
Grading the Performance:
- Offense | B | They finished with 33 shots and 4 goals and it wasn't enough. It looked more like last years Bears team instead of the team we saw for the first 6 games this year. They had lots of chances and open looks but missed the net repeatedly. Carlson, Matheiu Perreault, and Oskar Osala all missed open nets at one point or another. You can't miss great chances like that and expect to win.
- Defense | D | Not sure what happened tonight but the defense absolutely fell apart. Helmer in particular was terrible in my opinion. He was out of position on a couple goals and on the game winner by Lovejoy he didn't move Bayda from the front of the net. Didn't even touch him. But Helmer wasn't the only one. Miscovic, Greg Amadio, and Carlson all struggled in their own end tonight.
- Goaltending | C | Neuvirth made some absolutely remarkable saves and then let in some real bad goals. The first goal by Bayda was probably the worst to me as it was just a wrist shot with minimum traffic in front that just beat him high glove side. The defense is partly responsible for the goal totals but not a great outing for Neuvy.
- Power Play | B- | 5 chances yielded no goals tonight. The unit ran hot and cold tonight. Sometimes they set up and got tons of pressure and other times they chased the Penguins in the defensive zone.
- Penalty Kill | D | This had to have been last seasons units out there tonight. Sloppy play, too much chasing, not enough taking the body down low. They only had 2 chances but they looked terrible on both.
- Overall | C | Probably the worst outing so far this year. They managed to get some goals but they couldn't stop anything. They hustled tonight and never gave up but it isn't always enough. Positioning and knowing where the opponents are is probably the most important part of hockey and tonight the Hershey defense lost touch with those parts of their game.
LET'S GO BEARS...TWO CHANCES TO REDEEM THIS WEEKEND!!