Monday, December 20, 2010

Bears play complete 6-3

That was a much better performance last night. From the opening faceoff through to the final horn that was as good a game as Hershey has played in some time.

Dany Sabourin made 36 saves, Kyle Greentree returned to the lineup and produced, and all the lines produced in some fashion.

Before we get too far into the game though let me say this...

Of all the games for Braden Holtby to be on the bench! If Holtby had been in the game I think their was a 50/50 chance he would have been in Pogge's face the moment he knocked Trevor Bruess to the ice.

You just know that Holtby wants to fight and that would have been as good a chance as any.

For those of you who didn't see the game I am talking about when the Charlotte goalie, Justin Pogge, completely lost his mind after a goal. He might have been brushed by Trevor Bruess but he was easily 2 feet out in front of his crease which means goaltender interference is a moot point unless it is blatant.

Brian Fahey scored on the play and Pogge lost it. He stormed towards referee Mark Lemelin and knocked Bruess to the ice to get to the ref. After being called for unsportsmanlike conduct he proceeded to flip the goal over, continued to argue, and broke his stick against the glass before leaving the ice.

It was something to see.

Anyways, on to the more important topics from the game.

Keith Aucoin played again tonight and he did look better than he did on Saturday. He even admitted as much after the game...

“I still don’t feel that great out there,” said Aucoin, who last scored a goal
on Oct. 31. “I felt a little better than the first two games, obviously. I still
don’t have the full strength in my leg. The conditioning is not quite there

I will acknowledge that he did look better than Saturday. But he still looked out of place at times. He wasn't near the liability last night that he was Saturday and I think it showed on the scoresheet as he finished with 2 goals and 1 assist on the night.

While Coiner continued to improve, Greentree returned to the lineup. And it was a big help. With him back you just got the feeling that the Bears had more confidence. They skated harder, hit more, and overall just played better.

When you are missing so many top players it surely has to have an affect on the psyche of the remaining players. Maybe getting a top scorer back helped that a bit. Greentree scored once and also picked up an assist in his first game back.

Beyond those two forwards you have to give a ton of credit to the 4th line. Nikita Kashirsky, Bruess, and Maxime Lacroix played a spectacular game. They didn't score any goals and only Bruess picked up an assist but they were consistently in the offensive zone with the puck, cycling and getting chances.

And the coaches noticed too. That line got a lot of ice team, even late in the game. I don't have those numbers but I would say they were on the ice more than the 3rd line for sure and maybe even more than Coiner's line. All their shifts were high energy, puck possession shifts that really set the tone and controlled the play.

It probably benefited Coiner (and Greentree for that matter) that another line was available to shoulder a good amount of the load. With that line getting more minutes it allowed the "less than 100%" players to get more rest between shifts.

A complete game from all four forward lines.

Let's also give a thumbs up to Dany Sabourin. I will be honest...I was worried and surprised when I saw that he was playing last night. I wondered why, after Holtby's really good game Saturday, Coach French would choose to play a guy who hadn't won a game in Hershey all season. Sabs was 0-4 with 12 goals allowed before last night.

He played great in my opinion. Sure there were some goals but I think they were all due to really good plays/shots by the Checkers. That was as good as I have seen him play all season and it couldn't have come at a better time.

Now the Bears get a full 6 days to rest and heal up before a tough 5 in 8 stretch to finish 2010 and start 2011. Next up is the Norfolk Admirals next Sunday.

**UPDATE - from the Capitals Insider blog - The Capitals' roster is frozen until after the holidays, a team spokesman confirmed, and there will be no moves until after Dec. 27. The freeze means call-ups Mathieu Perreault, Andrew Gordon and Jay Beagle won't be sent back to Hershey until after that date. **

My 3 Stars of the Game:
  1. Kyle Greentree - a goal and an assist in his first game back
  2. Bears 4th Line - Kashirsky/Bruess/Lacroix all played very good games and helped Hershey control the tempo and pick up the W
  3. Keith Aucoin - 2 goals and an assist but he is still laboring out there at times

Grading the Performance:

  • Offense - A - 6 goals on 30 shots is awfully impressive in any situation but considering that Hershey had only scored 7 goals in their last 4 it was even better. Strong performance from each of the lines had the Checkers chasing the puck in their own zone most of the night.
  • Defense - B+ - Another impressive performance from the blue line. Some missteps and let downs led to some good opportunities for the Checkers. 39 shots is a lot to allow but many were from the perimeter and were easy stops for Sabourin.
  • Goaltending - B - Dany played a great game but he still had some problems finding the puck at times. And if you are going to allow 3 goals you aren't going to get an A. He got the win and made 36 saves so it was still impressive.
  • Power Play - B - Hershey scored on 2 of their 5 chances but I never got the feeling that the power play was in full control of the play. The first and last goals were power play goals.
  • Penalty Kill - A - I think the Hershey penalty killers had more offensive chances as the Checkers power play units. Very impressive night from everyone.
  • Overall - B - Definitely a step up from where they were on Friday and Saturday but this team is obviously not there yet. They managed to beat a Charlotte team that was playing in a different city for the 3rd straight night on a night when their starting goaltender lost his cool. Definitely a good win but there is still plenty of room for improvement.


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