But offensively it should have been easier. Portland has given up the most goals in the league this season and is dead last in penalty killing. Yet Hershey couldn't get the puck in the net. And it wasn't that they weren't shooting enough or running into a hot goaltender...nope it was accuracy. In a game of 3-bar the Bears won with no competition. They hit (by my count) at least 4 posts and not one of those misses bounced in.
I would say this is a step in the right direction though. For the past few games I watched guys miss the net entirely even when it was wide open. So to see them hit so many posts means to me that they are getting closer to actually scoring goals again.
So the offense is on the right track (kinda) but what about the defense?
Not quite as close. I hate to call him out as he has already turned into the scapegoat amongst fans (much like Sloan last year) but Patrick McNeill struggled last night at both ends of the rink. I thought he made some good plays too but goal #1 for the Pirates is honestly squarely on the shoulders of Patty. He didn't get back in time and his guy got the goal.
But the entire defense struggled yet again. I thought with Bryan Helmer sitting that you might see an improved unit but it wasn't too be. John Carlson struggled last night as well. And he looked tired. I know it was a 3 in 3 but he better get used to them as they happen regularly at this level.
The thing Carlson does that evens out his play is his offensive game. He jumps up on the rush and puts pressure on the opposing defense and he is good at it. But he needs to be careful at times and pick his spots a little more. Thankfully he plays with Karl Alzner who would rather sit back and play in his own end and doesn't get caught up ice too often. Which allows Carlson to roam a little more.
Overall I just thought the defense got caught flat footed time and time again. Everyone did it. They were just a step behind the Pirates on every play in the first 2 periods. And then in the 3rd period the team dominated play and eventually got the game winner (on a short handed shot) from Pinner.
My Three Stars of the Game:
- Steve Pinizzotto - game winner while short handed and overall a good game
- Kyle Wilson - one assist and a game high 8 shots...played between Gordo and Flash and looked good
- Francois Bouchard - the 'Soph' line was great throughout the night and he had the lone goal
Grading the Performance:
- Offense | B | Honestly I think a B might be a bit high but they did get 35 shots and 3 goals. Still missing chances and just getting by without their top offensive threats. Last night it seemed like they were trying to make too many of the 'pretty' passes instead of putting the puck on net and getting traffic in front.
- Defense | C | A couple decent plays but overall sloppy and slow I thought. Carlson looked tired, Alzner almost got caught a couple times but managed to work out of it, Miscovic and McNeill struggled positionally, Ammo almost took himself out of multiple plays going for the hit, and Collins actually didn't play terribly but I am sure he struggled somewhere. NEEDS MORE CONSISTENCY.
- Goaltending | B+ | Cash made multiple big games and really on the two goals his defense let him out to dry a bit. I will say this....looked better than Neuvy.
- Power Play | C+ | Some pressure and some decent shots but too much looking for the extra pass and not enough getting the puck at the net.
- Penalty Kill | B+ | Got saved a couple times by Cash but they played well as they killed off all 5 chances.
- Overall | B | One thing I noticed last night....Portland communicates better than Hershey. There was MINIMAL conversation and communicating happening in the first 2 periods. Then in the third you started hearing more from the Bears and they started playing better. It was almost like when things were rough they didn't talk but when things were going good they communicated fine. It needs to be consistent and more communication is needed when your struggling.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!