Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bears come from behind again

Well maybe it isn't so much complacency as much as Bridgeport is just playing excellent hockey right now because the Bears once again had to rally to beat the Sound Tigers last night in Hershey.

Thankfully the Tigers don't have much in the way of goal scorers or Hershey might be in trouble here. The Bridgeport defense has been outstanding and the goaltending has been very solid as well for the Tigers.

Hershey has scored 7 goals in 2 games but it sure doesn't seem like it. It has been tough just to get decent shots on the opposing netminders. Bridgeport has blocked a lot of shots in the first 2 games and yet they are still down 2 games to none heading into tonight's game 3.

Without more scoring Bridgeport will be in trouble because even with great defense the Bears are still scoring enough to win. 60% of the Sound Tigers goals have been scored by defensemen, which would be great if they had scored a bunch of goals but they have only scored 5 so far.

In both games so far Bridgeport seems to have gotten worn down late in games while Hershey still has plenty left. This is one of Hershey's biggest strengths and tonight and tomorrow it should definitely pay dividends.

Both teams left immediately after last night's game for the 4 hour bus ride to Bridgeport in preparation for tonight's game at 7pm. Then both teams turn around and play game 4 Sunday afternoon at 3.

That is not easy for any team but Hershey will be able to handle it better due to their ability to skate 4 lines all game long. Many teams short shift their 3rd line and don't even use their 4th line late in the game. Hershey uses their 4th line in overtime as evidenced by Andrew Joudrey's game winner Wednesday night.

Michal Neuvirth got the start in goal and looked excellent on his way to 23 saves and his 17th career playoff victory. It will be interesting to see how Coach French decides to play his goalies tonight and tomorrow. Neuvirth is obviously the #1 but considering he has only played about 2 games in the last month you might not want to play him back to back.

I would actually expect to see Braden Holtby get the start tonight with Neuvy back in net tomorrow for the afternoon game. It just seems like too much of a risk to play Neuvy in back to back and maybe 3 in 3 after having so many injury problems of late. Maybe you would if Hershey was down or even tied in the series but considering Holtby's skill and the fact that the Bears are up 2 games to none I think Braden gets a chance to prove himself again.

For Bridgeport it is a tougher call potentially. Scott Munroe got the start Wednesday and looked good for the first 45 minutes before allowing 3 goals over the next 20. Nathan Lawson got the start last night and was looking very good until he got hurt late in the 2nd and came out midway through the 3rd period. I would expect to see Munroe considering the late night bus ride and a very important game for the Sound Tigers.

Hershey has the opportunity to use their depth to put away Bridgeport without having to come back to Hershey in this series. That would complete step 1 on their way to an 11th Calder Cup!

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