Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cup defense begins tonight

Now that the warmup season is over the real season and real games begin tonight for the defending Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears.

Tonight and Friday Hershey will host their first round opponent, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. After that Hershey turns around and heads immediately to Connecticut for games Saturday and Sunday in Bridgeport.

During the season they faced off 2 times with Hershey winning both games, quite handily actually. But the playoffs are a different animal.

Only 1 #1 overall seed in the last 8 years or so have managed to win the Calder Cup. Hershey was last the #1 overall seed in 06-07 which was the year of Carey Price that many of us still have nightmares about.

Bryan Helmer understands this situation all too well. In 95-96 his Albany team was coming off a Calder Cup and went into the playoffs as the #1 overall seed and the prohibitive favorite to win another Cup. They lost in the first round!

17 of the current players played on last years Calder Cup winning team so the experience is there. But this team faced minimal (if any at all) adversity during the regular season. They jumped out to a big lead in the first few weeks, set numerous records along the way, and won the division with weeks left in the season.

It was a phenomenal season but the question is...are they ready for the playoffs? Every player on the team will tell you that the playoffs are different, the regular season doesn't mean anything, and that the pressure is much greater.

Are the Bears ready? If they aren't ready, can they adjust quickly?

Personally I think with last year's experience in their minds they should be okay but I am definitely not just assuming they are going to run through the playoffs on their way to the Cup.

It is human nature to be overly confident at this point. They have to be feeling pretty good about themselves right now.

Last year's team had to deal with multiple issues in goal, tons defensive callups, and an incredibly tight divisional race. They were battle tested. They had faced the adversity and were ready for the playoffs. The regular season mattered more to them than it usually does. They learned alot.

This team now has to hit the reset button and start all over. The regular season means nothing this season. Nothing during the 'warmup' season translates this year. This team must call on their experiences from last Spring.

I think they will. I believe.


Bridgeport Sound Tigers:

home record..........21-15-1-3
road record............17-17-3-3
goals for.................201
goals against..........220
last 10 games..........5-5-0-0
power play..............15.0 (25th)
home power play....14.6 (26th)
road power play......15.4 (19th)
penalty kill..............82.7 (15th)
home penalty kill....82.7 (21st)
road penalty kill......82.7 (10th)

Top Scorers:
  1. LW | Greg Mauldin | 20 - 25g, 29a, 54pts
  2. LW | Jesse Joensuu | 6 - 14g, 34a, 48pts
  3. LW | Trevor Smith | 23 - 21g, 26a, 47pts
  4. LW | Sean Bentivoglio | 14 - 19g, 26a, 45pts
No other player has more than 40 points this season.

Top Goalies:
  1. Nathan Lawson | 52 - 16-16-3, 1 so, 2.52 gaa, .922 save%
  2. Scott Munroe | 33 - 19-16-3, 3 so, 2.52 gaa, .920 save%
As of this moment the starting goaltender has not been announced for game 1.

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