Monday, February 21, 2011

Bears lose for 4th time in last 9 days

Listless.  Apathetic.  Disengaged.  Lethargic.  Unmotivated.  Pitiful.  Hapless.  Bored.  Inconsistent.

Those are all very good descriptions of how the Bears played last night.  I think the most accurate word to describe their performance from the past week (have only won 2 of their last 6 games) would be...


Every player seems to be out there by himself.  Defensemen aren't picking up their responsibilities and wingers are routinely out of position.

Maybe some of that is due to an added pressure of being so inconsistent over the the past 6 games but there really is no excuse for it.

Sure they are missing a few players.  Two points to that...

1.  Who isn't?  The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were at one point missing their top 7 scorers.  Every single one of them and yet they beat the Bears 7-1 last Sunday.
2.  Who is Hershey really missing?  3 of their top 6 defensemen and 1 of their top 9 forwards (not counting Perreault since he has been gone for a while now).  Fahey, Nycholat, Souray, and Gordon.  That really isn't that much. 

Sure those 4 all bring some offensive presence, Gordon most of all, but in the end the players that are subbing in for them bring their own abilities and should be able to generate more than they have. 

If you throw out Saturday's game where Hershey scored 6 on what is arguably the worst team in the league at the current moment then the Bears have scored 14 goals in their last 7 games (20 in their last 8 if you count the Bridgeport game).

For a team that was the highest scoring team in the league not long ago they sure have fallen.  This morning they still sit in 3rd overall with 3.37 goals per game.  In 7 of their last 8 (not counting the odd 6 game outburst again) they have scored 2 goals per game. 

2.  Per game.

No team in the league...any league...could maintain that kind of production and expect to win. 

Luckily for the Bears they still sit in playoff position.  A good position in fact, 2nd in the East Division.

The sad part is that last week there was still hope of catching the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the division lead.  Hershey was within 6 points a couple times with plenty of game remaining.

Now they are 10 points back with no games in hand.  While there is obviously still time to catch them it is increasingly unlikely.  In fact I think the only possible way would be if Hershey swept the 4 remaining games against the Pens.  Which, if you look at the season to date, is unlikely to happen. 

But that's okay.  You don't have to win the division to win the Calder Cup. 

Nope all you have to do is make the playoffs and then play your best hockey of the season.

And as bad as the Bears have played over the last week or so they are still considered a strong contender for another Cup. 

This recent display is nothing more than a hiccup on the way to the postseason.

Hershey still sits in 2nd place in the East division.  They are 4 points ahead of 3rd place Charlotte with a game in hand.  And maybe just as importantly at this point, they are a full 13 points ahead of the first team that will miss the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, Worcester.  (Remember that since the East Division has 8 teams if the 5th place team has more points than the 4th in the Atlantic then they make the playoffs in the Atlantic division).

So Hershey is still in okay position.

But they need to start playing better sooner than later.

That starts with getting some players back healthy.  Brian Fahey and Andrew Joudrey were thought to be ready to return this past weekend but neither saw action.  They will likely be ready for this week's 4 games in 5 nights that begins on Wednesday and ends Sunday.

Sheldon Souray should be back soon.  Not sure of the injury that supposedly kept him out late last week but he was placed on re-entry waivers on Saturday but he cleared today so I believe he is still being loaned to the Bears and is likely to participate this weekend in the games barring an injury.

Other injured players, Trevor Bruess, Nycholat, and Gordon, are going to be out longer.  Last I heard none of the 3 were practicing.  According to one report I heard, Bruess had surgery recently and is out of action for another 6 weeks minimum.  Gordon and word.

But reinforcements are beginning to trickle in.  Dmitri Orlov, the Caps 2nd round pick in 2009, is in Hershey and is expected to sign a tryout contract as early as today.  He could see action this week.

The NHL trade deadline is one week from today.  Will Hershey get additional players?  Will the Bears lose players?  Anything can happen at this point.  Rumors are flying all over and the Caps are continuously involved in them.

Things can surely change by then but there is a chance that Mathieu Perreault would be returning to Hershey once the deadline passes.  Assuming of course that he is still a part of the organization.  Personally I think he will be part of a package for a 2nd line center if McPhee makes a move but time will tell.  But if the Caps do go get a 2nd line center and he is not dealt than I would say it is likely that we will see Perry back in a Bears uniform this spring.

And down the road the Bears are likely to see another Caps prospect, Cody Eakin.  Eakin plays in the WHL and their regular season ends in mid-late March.  The playoffs then start and once that is done he is likely to join Hershey's roster. 

He played in Hershey last postseason when he dressed for 5 games, as well as 4 regular season games.  But he continues to develop and almost made the Caps out of camp.  He isn't a traditional goal scorer in the Giroux or Greentree mold but I would say he is more of a grinder in the Willsie, Beagle, and maybe even Gordon mold.  Which is obviously a good thing.

So there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel.  This team will improve.  I personally believe we are seeing the worst this team can offer right now.

Hopefully by Wednesday the players that remain decide to recommit themselves to the system and style of hockey that they are in need of. 

Playing a little more physical.  Getting to the front of the net.  And maybe the most important...just being in the correct position when on the ice.

Start playing together as a team instead of trying to do it yourself and things will start to happen.

I don't know about any of you but I still believe 100% in this teams ability come playoff time.  They will be ready.


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