Before I get into the team and their problems last night I want to say how awesome it was to see the reaction and reception for the soldiers that were welcomed home last night. If you weren't there it was something special. Not only did they get a standing ovation from the crowd but even the players on the ice were saluting them by hitting their sticks on the boards and the ice. And this wasn't before the game or between periods but during a timeout in play.
Sometimes we get a little caught up in the sport and the outcomes and forget that it is, quite simply, just a game. Whether a team wins or loses it really doesn't matter in the grander scheme of things. Watching the players acknowledge that last night was amazing.
As someone who has relatives and friends serving our amazing country (as many of us do) it was definitely something I will always remember.
Now onto the game....
Not exactly the way Hershey wanted to kick off the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Worcester came into Hershey and played well enough to get a 3-2 win against a sluggish Bears team.
I have some thoughts on wait ails this team but first I want to say this...it is still early. There are many new pieces and due to call-ups and injuries they have had limited time to play together. I still contend that this team is very talented at the offensive end and can score with anyone.
But goaltending and defense are 2 different issues altogether.
Dany Sabourin and the Defense
First let me say this...Dany is having a hard time controlling rebounds this year. Last night was horrible as he kept directing rebounds right out to the circles and the center of the ice. You just can't do that and expect to win many games.
BUT I don't blame Dany (entirely) for the goals last night. The first goal was a poorly controlled rebound that dropped at the stick of a Shark. My problem here is that whichever defenseman was following him through the zone didn't tie him up. Not sure which defenseman it was but Miscovic and Nycholat were on the ice.
A very similar play happened at the other end but the Sharks defenseman tied Perreault and kept him from making a play.
The 2nd goal was quite simply a horrible play by Souray and Miscovic. The puck was in the neutral zone and yet they still got caught flat footed by the play and Wingels skated in all alone on Sabourin.
And the 3rd goal...you CAN NOT allow a guy to take a one timer from the faceoff circle. Especially at even strength. That is simply unacceptable. If I remember correctly Andrew Joudrey's guy is the one that scored and Joudrey did make an attempt to block the shot but it was already too late.
Sure, Dany could have made some more saves but he did keep Hershey in the game too. I thought he played OK. Unfortunately I don't think he is capable of winning games by himself and that is what Hershey is asking him to do right now. The defense isn't showing up with any consistency.
It doesn't appear that anyone on this team is communicating with each other. And that might have something to do with the constant line changing due to injuries and call-ups but it should be a simple and easy thing to correct.
It appeared to me that right now there are 5 guys on the ice playing as individuals instead of as a a team. Clever passes where no one is there, one on one moves when they are unnecessary, and (most importantly) NO ONE GOING TO THE NET!
This is always a problem for teams but this Hershey team is really struggling. There were numerous rebounds left by the Worcester goalie last night but there were no Bears around to take advantage. They were all standing on the outside near the boards.
This team has some big guys too. Greentree, Rome, Pinner, GMac, Rechlicz, and Beagle can all get down low and stir up some chances. But most of them don't want to do that.
Last night there were 2 players that seemed to be okay getting their nose dirty...Beagle and Perreault. And Perry is the smallest player on the ice many games but he was in there going after rebounds and trying to make something happen.
No one else.
With all the injuries and call ups it has been hard to get any lines any continuity but the lines they are running right now are too scattered and inconsistent.
There is no telling when Aucoin will be back so let's make some changes now.
Kyle Greentree is a scorer in the Giroux mold. Not as good a shot and not as quick a skater (never thought I would say that) but a similar player. Why is he on a line with 2 muckers (Beagle and Rome)?
Put Greentree with Perreault and Gordon and move Willsie down to play with Beagle. Willsie is a great player but he is more of the grinder/mucker type than a scorer. Putting Greentree on the top line with open Gordon up for him to perform.
High energy, grinder lines are what this team needs. Maxime Lacroix and Trevor Bruess are playing great right now and that is what they are doing. I actually think Rome should move to this line with Kugryshev moving to the Beagle/Willsie line.
What all these lines need is balance. A scorer, a grinder and a playmaker. Hershey has some of each but not like last years team.
Putting Greentree with a terrific playmaker like Perreault and allowing Gordon to get to the net and score the 'ugly' goals will definitely help that line.
Beagle has a little playmaker in him but will also get in the corners and muck it up. Putting him with Kugryshev and Willsie will result in hustle goals.
Rome, Lacroix, and Bruess aren't going to score a lot but they will control the puck with the cycle and get a few chances while frustrating the opposition. They will draw penalties and do the dirty work down low.
The last line of Pinner, Kane, and Joudrey is much like the Bruess line. I think Pinner could offer more in the way of offense but I don't see the energy on this line as I do the Bruess line. They don't seem interested in cycling and possessing the puck. Which is what they are all built to do.
With some continuity and communication all of these lines could cause problems for any opposition.
One more thing and this is for French.
Why the hell is Souray not on the #1 power play unit? I don't care if you have to put Willsie on the wing or the bench if you don't Souray as your only defenseman but he should absolutely be out there firing away.
Put Willsie, Perry and Gordon out as forwards with Nycholat and Souray on the blue line. I guarantee that goals will be scored.
Then the 2nd line could be Beagle, Greentree and Kurgryshev with Collins/Fahey and Miscovic on the point.
TWO solid lines that can score and produce some consistent pressure.
That's it for today. Hopefully Friday and the weekend go better than the last 4 have gone. Getting 40+ shots a game is good IF they are quality chances which most of Hershey's 40+ weren't last night.
Everyone have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!