Hershey can not defeat the Texas Stars playing their game.
They need to adapt their style to combat the team they are up against and to date they have been unwilling to do so. If you want to know the style they need to play look no further than Andrew Gordon's goal last night. They got the puck in deep, cycled it around, got it to the point for a shot on goal, and got the rebound.
Simple. But boring and not a lot of fun. And surely not what Hershey has been doing for the past 7 months.
Hershey CAN still win this series. They only have to win 4 out of 5. Not an impossible task, they did it against both Albany and Bridgeport earlier this spring. But it will be difficult.
There has to be a change in philosophy by the entire team. Only one line has produced consistent pressure and that is the Chris Bourque, Mathieu Perreault, and Jay Beagle line. You know why? Because they get the puck in deep and cycle.
Why does that work? Because it pulls defenders away from the middle of the ice which opens up passing and shooting lanes. Now that line hasn't executed perfectly either. They hesitate to shoot because there isn't a true shooter/scorer on the line but they have had opportunities.
The Kyle Wilson, Boyd Kane, and Francois Bouchard line has done a solid job but let's be honest...Kane is out of his element. He isn't going to produce goals or assists. Wilson is a former 30 goal scorer for the Bears who isn't getting anything going on this line. He needs another element here...some energy.
The biggest problem right now is the top line. They still insist on doing the things they did all season. It is straight stubbornness right now. Alexandre Giroux thinks he can beat any defenseman one on one but in this series he continues to turn the puck over shortly after entering the offensive zone. Keith Aucoin continues to try to make cute passes to set up Giroux and Andrew Gordon instead of just shooting the puck and getting rebounds. Gordon is playing okay but he is still getting his legs back.
So it's time for some changes and they need to be drastic. Certain players need benched and lines need broken up.
First let's go over the lineup changes, who dresses and who doesn't.
I like Greg Amadio. He is a tough and physical defenseman but he is hindrance on this blue line. Sean Collins played like crap in game 1 too. Bench both players and start Zach Miscovic instead. You need defenseman who will get shots to the net and create opportunities. Give another guy a shot.
Sit Kane. I know he scored the winning goal against Manchester and he is a hero from 05-06 but this is 09-10. Put Cody Eakin back in with Joudrey and Ashton Rome on the 4th line. This will help the energy level and these guys might even produce a goal or two.
Sit Steve Pinizzotto down and tell him to stop being stupid and start playing hockey. No more dumb penalties. And then put him on the third line with Wilson and Bouchard. He will be the energy and grinder to help those two scorers get opportunities.
Now for the biggest change.
Break up the top line. I know it is late in the season to mess with chemistry but this line will NOT PRODUCE against Texas doing what they do.
Drop Giroux to the 2nd line and move Bourque up. This is a huge risk but I think it has to be done NOW.
Bourque will dig pucks out of the corner and get it to Aucoin to make plays. Giroux is not as good at that skill as Bourque is and neither is Gordon. Currently the top line has 2 scorers and a playmaker. What they need is a grinder which Bourque has been for much of the playoffs.
That move also helps the 2nd line. Now you have a scorer to help Perry. Perry IS the best stick handler on the team but without a scorer on his line he has limited ways to produce. Beagle will play the grinder role, digging pucks out of the corners and getting the rebounds.
Something has to be done and personally I think this needs to be done soon.
Hershey can still win this series. They have been making history all season...this is just one more opportunity.
But things have to change and they have to change now.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!