Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bears and Checkers face off for final time during regular season tonight

The Bears are likely getting the Checkers at the right time.  The Checkers leading scorer (and 3rd in the AHL), Jerome Samson, is on recall to the Carolina Hurricanes. 

And he was on a tear after the All-Star break.  He played in 4 games after the break, scoring 3 goals and adding 6 assists.

Charlotte went 3-0-0-1 during those games scoring a combined 18 goals.  Since he was recalled they have gone 2-2-0-0 and have scored only 8 goals.

Big difference.

But this is still a team the Bears can't take lightly.  They currently sit right behind the Bears in the standings with 68 points.  A Bears regulation loss would mean that Charlotte is only 4 points back of Hershey for 2nd in the East.  Definitely not something the Bears want.

A Bears victory would give them an 8 point cushion and plenty of breathing room.

Hershey could see some reinforcements tonight to help.  Andrew Joudrey and Brian Fahey were thought to be possibilities for the Bears for the weekend but they have yet to see action.  That could come tonight.

Despite his struggles last night (and possibly because of them) I would also expect to see Braden Holtby get the start again in goal.  After a performance like last night you want to get him right back out there and work off more of the rust. 

It kind of goes without saying (but I will say it anyway) but Braden will play a crucial role for the Bears the rest of the season so the sooner he returns to All-Star form the better.

Here are some other roster news and notes:
  • Sheldon Souray was placed on re-entry waivers yesterday meaning that IF a team were to claim him they would owe only half of his salary for the remainder of this year and only 2.7 million next season.  The waiver process ends Monday so nothing will be known until then but rumor has it the Caps might be interested.
  • Dmitri Orlov has arrived in the States.  He got in last night.  There is still uncertainty as to his eligibility but expectations are that he will join the Bears sometime sooner than later.  He is an offensive defenseman who would add some very valuable defensive depth to the Bears.  It will be good for him to get in some regular season work over the next 2 months so that he is ready for the Calder Cup playoffs.  
Hershey's power play is still struggling.  After going 0 for 4 last night they have failed to score a power play goal in 7 straight games, going 0 for 27 during that stretch. 

Unfortunately for the Bears it doesn't get any easier tonight.  Charlotte brings with them the 5th overall penalty kill in the league.  They kill off a little more than 85% of their penalties.  On the road that is about the same but actually closer to 86%.

Hershey might need a power play goal tonight to pull off the win.  The league's #3 home power play unit is going to have to show up. 

So who guess is the team that leaves the first period with the lead.  And based on overall numbers...Hershey has a pretty good chance.  (see just below for reasons)

Fun with stats for the game tonight:
  • Charlotte is 16-2-1-0 when leading after 1 period (7-0-1-0 on the road)
  • Hershey is 21-2-0-2 when leading after 1 (13-1-0-2 at home)
  • Charlotte has a -1 goal differential in the first period
  • Hershey is +20 in 1st period goal differential
  • Charlotte is #3 in the AHL with 3.40 goals per game
  • Hershey is #2 in the AHL with 3.43 goals per game
  • Charlotte is #23 in the league allowing 3.21 goals per game
  • Hershey is #4 allowing only 2.48 goals per game
  • Charlotte is only 9-6-0-0 when outshooting an opponent on the road
  • Hershey is 7-1-0-1 at home when being outshot 
  • Charlotte is #2 in the AHL averaging 33.21 shots per game
  • Hershey is #7 averaging 31.27 per game

Hershey Bears
record ~ 35-17-1-3 72 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 6-4 Win vs Bridgeport, 2/19
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
home record ~ 18-9-0-2
goals for ~ 192
goals against ~ 139
home power play ~ 22.8% (3rd)
home penalty kill ~ 86.2% (5th)

Charlotte Checkers
record ~ 31-20-2-4 68 points
standings ~ 3rd in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 SO Win @ Adirondack, 2/19
last 5 games ~ 2-2-1-0
road record ~ 16-9-1-0
goals for ~ 194
goals against ~ 183
road power play ~ 16.2% (18th)
road penalty kill ~ 85.8% (9th)

last time teams met - This is the 8th and final meeting between the teams during the regular season.  Hershey has gone 4-3-0-0 against the Checkers to this point this season, including a 1-0 win right before the All-Star break on January 29.

Players to watch:

LW Kyle Greentree (37) - Third on the team in goals with 20.  He has 5 goals and an assist against Charlotte this season.  But 4 of those goals came in the first 2 meetings back in the beginning of November.
LW Boyd Kane (12) - Playing on the top line with Aucoin has been good to Boyd.  He has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last 2 games.  Against Charlotte this season he has 2 goals and 2 assists.
RW Steve Pinizzotto (13) - Given the opportunity Pinner can definitely play some offense.  Playing on the top line last night he scored 2 and added an assist.

LW Jacob Micflikier (18) - Second on the team (1st among active players) in goals (22) and points (45).  He has 4 goals and 3 assists against the Bears this season.
LW Chris Terry (25) - Third on the team (2nd among active players) in goals (21) and points (44).  He has 4 goals and 2 assists against Hershey in 2010-11.  He also has a goal and 3 assists in his last 2 games.
C Zack Boychuk (11) - Second on the team in assist with 26 and tied for the team lead in power play goals with 8.  He has 7 assists against the Bears this season.


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