Friday, February 4, 2011

Bears visit New Jersey to play the Devils

Tonight the Bears begin their quest towards the playoffs.  Hershey sits 11 points behind the division (and league) leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

But we have already talked about that.

Tonight Hershey will play in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  Wait...what?  Yeah the Albany Devils will play a home game tonight in Atlantic City. 

The Devils are having enough problems this year winning at home (only 7 wins, fewest in the league) let alone having to now travel almost 5 hours for a HOME game. 

I guess this is so all the New Jersey Devil fans in South Jersey can see the future of the organization.  Expect most of the 'future' is currently struggling with the 'present' NJ Devils as they reside in the bottom of the NHL standings.  Of the top 10 prospects in the NJ organization according to only 3 currently play for Albany.

Tough break for the Devils.  The game will be a truly neutral site and might even favor the Bears a bit considering AC is only about 3 hours from Hershey. 

And the Devils could use a break of late.  They have lost 5 of their last 6 and have allowed 4+ goals in 4 of those losses.  They have been outscored 27-13 in that stretch and 6 of their goals came in their one win over Bridgeport. 

That means that in 5 of their last 6 games they have scored a grand total of 7 goals.  That won't get the job done.

Things for Hershey couldn't be going much better.  They have won 6 straight by a combined 26-10.  They rank near the top in most AHL categories including goals per game, goals allowed per game, and power play and they have a team as deep as any in the league.

Just a little while ago they sat 4th in the East division only 2 points ahead of 5th place Binghamton.  Now they are 2nd, 3 points ahead of 3rd and 8 points in front of Binghamton.

Tonight's game in New Jersey is definitely a game that could surprise the Bears.  They just beat them handily 8-3 2 weeks ago and are playing great.  But these are the classic let down games that teams talk about.  Saturday and Sunday welcome a visit from the Manitoba Moose who reside in 2nd place in the North division.  Could Hershey be looking forward to those games?

This is the type of game the Bears HAVE to win if they are going to give the Pens a run for the division title.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 29-14-1-2 59 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 1-0 Win vs Charlotte, 1/29
last 5 games ~ 5-0-0-0
road record ~ 13-6-1-1
goals for ~ 158
goals against ~ 107
power play ~ 22.2% (3rd)
penalty kill ~ 84.3% (10th)

Albany Devils
record ~ 18-25-0-3 39 points
standings ~ 6th in East Division
most recent game ~ 6-1 Loss vs Rochester, 1/29
last 5 games ~ 1-4-0-0
home record ~ 7-16-0-2
goals for ~ 118
goals against ~ 164
power play ~ 12.1% (29th)
penalty kill ~ 77.4% (28th)

last time teams met - 4th of 6 meetings this season and the final one in Albany (or on the road at least).  Hershey won 8-3 on January 21 and is 3-0 against the Devils this season.

Players to watch:


RW Steve Pinizzotto (13) - He is having a career year offensively with 11 goals and 14 assists through 41 games.  His career high in goals is 13, set last year.  He has scored in each game against the Devils this season and has 3 goals and 2 assists in the 3 games to date.
F Brian Willsie (18) - His 5 game goal scoring streak was snapped last week but he picked up an assist to extend his scoring streak to 6 games.  He had 2 goals and an assist against the Devils 2 weeks ago.
C Keith Aucoin (11) - Has at least one point in 8 straight games (2 goals, 10 assists in that timeframe).  Has only played in 1 of the 3 games against Albany this season and had 2 assists 2 weeks ago.


C Matt Anderson (29) - Leading the team in goals (16), assists (16), and points (32) the AHL All Star has 1 goal and 4 assists in the 4 games since playing Hershey.
C Michael Swift (23) - Tied for the team lead in goals with 16 and second in points (28) he has a goal and an assists against the Bears this season.  He hasn't scored in 6 games, his second longest streak of the season.
C Adam Henrique (17) - The rookie is 3rd on the team in goals (13) and points (27).  He is a top prospect in the organization and has 2 goals and an assists since playing Hershey 2 weeks ago.


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