The teams also decided that starting goaltenders need line changes too. 4 different goalies started the two games, Daren Machesney and Martin Gerber started Wednesday and Jeff Glass and Kris Mayotte started last nights game. Only 1 of those 4 actually played an entire game and that was Glass, who actually got credit for both wins too.
Hershey jumped out to leads in both games but couldn't hold either one. Last night's culprit? The defense and the penalty kill. I was surprised when Bob Woods pulled Mayotte after he allowed his third goal. I thought Mayotte had played okay and the third goal was tipped in and would have been hard for ANY goalie to stop.
But someone made a good point on the AHL Live chat during the game last night. By pulling Mayotte and putting Machesney back in it should really boost Cheese's confidence. Basically the coaching staff was reaffirming their belief in him. So maybe that played into the decision?
Who knows but it seems that it may have at least helped Cheese as he came in and played very well the remainder of the game stopping 12 of 14 shots and making some very good and difficult saves.
The problem last night was truly the penalty kill AND the dumb penalties the Bears were taking. Bingo finished the game 3 for 8 on the power play but at one point during the contest they were 3 for 3. Yeah their power play was looking like Hershey's did in the beginning of the season.
Now that shouldn't' really surprise anyone since the Sens have the best power play in the league but wouldn't that (or shouldn't that) cause you to STOP TAKING BAD PENALTIES?? It didn't' seem to stop Hershey last night as numerous players took lazy penalties all night.
The offense is still there right now. Alexandre Giroux (his 41st), Kyle Wilson (23 and 24), and Graham Mink (24th) scored for Hershey. But if your defensive play is allowing guys to skate in untouched and uncovered then there isn't much the offensive production is going to fix.
And it isn't all the defenses fault either. The forwards need to learn how to play in their own end. Look at the game winning goal again, Darren Reid can see Bryan Helmer going towards Derek Smith along the boards while Tyler Sloan followed Greg Mauldin into the corner, both defensemen covering their men perfectly. But Reid decides that Helmer needs help so he skates over towards them while Peter Regin, who scored the last 3 goals for Bingo, skated in wide open behind him, gets the pass, and beats Cheese.
Positioning AND being aware of where you are on the ice and where the opposing players are is CRITICAL, especially in your own end. And the Bears have struggled with those two things for weeks now. I don't know if it communication issues, it doesn't seem like they are talking much out there, or poor coaching, or just straight up poor play but whatever it is it needs to change before the playoffs start or this team will be heading home before May.
My Three Stars of the Game:
- Peter Regin - 3 goals including the game tying goal and the game winning goal AND a primary assist
- Denis Hamel - 1 goal and 2 primary assists
- Karl Alzner - I had to put a Bear up here and even though he had no offensive stats I thought Karl played very soundly
Grading the Performance:
- Offense - B+ - If they would have won I would have given them an A. I thought they played very well in the attacking end. There was some passes that shouldn't have been made and some players need to quit being cute and just get the puck into the zone but overall a good game. Glass made some nice saves for Bingo to keep them in the game.
- Defense - D - Something is missing out there. I am not sure what it is cause I am not there for practices and I can't hear the conversation on the ice or the bench but something isn't there. And one thing that surely isn't there is physicality in front of the goalie. When an opposing forward is standing in front of your goalie PUSH HIM OUT OF THE WAY. Or at least hit him once or twice. This defense just lets guys stand there and wait for a pass or rebound. They would cut AT LEAST 1 goal a game by being more physical.
- Goaltending - C - I thought it was better and Cheese made some great saves but there is still room for improvement. Mayotte allowed 3 goals on 8 shots and that isn't good. Varlamov is rumored to be close to returning and I hope he can make some saves but the defense HAS to play better in front of him.
- Power Play - F - 1 for 9?? Seriously? Against the 22nd best PK unit in the league? They had trouble getting set up all game and when they did get it in the zone they spent their time passing the puck around the perimeter and taking shots from the blue line. GET THE PUCK LOW AND WORK IT FROM THERE!!
- Penalty Kill - F - I am not sure this unit was even aware they were on the ice for the first part of the game. They didn't cover anyone most of the night and really struggled. Now if the team would quit taking bad penalties maybe they wouldn't have to play so much but the 26th best PK ranking really suits them right now.
- Overall - D - The offense carried this team to a point last night. And Cheese deserves credit for preserving that point as he made some really big saves. But the special teams and defensive play are not working. Coach Woods....please make some changes! You run the same defensive pairings EVERY GAME (unless there is a different scratch). It is always Sloan/Helmer and Alzner/Lepisto and then the other unit is made up of whoever else dresses. IT NEEDS A CHANGE! Put Lepisto and Helmer together with Sloan and Alzner together if you must keep them in. Or put Lepisto with Amadio and Sloan with Deano. Do something to shake up the team.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!!