Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bears gain offense, lose defense, and prepare for Admirals

On Monday the Capitals made a couple of trades that impacted the Bears indirectly. 

By acquiring 3 new players and only getting rid of 1 player the Caps now have a logjam in Washington as far as players are concerned.  Because of that Mathieu Perreault was sent back to Hershey where he is expected to remain for the foreseeable future.

Perreault hasn't played a game for the Bears since December 4.  During his 18 games in Hershey this season he produced 8 goals and 17 assists.  In his last week or so of his time in Hershey he scored 6 times and added 3 assists over 7 games.

Getting Perry back will surely help the offense pick up the pace over the remainder of the season.

Unfortunately the defensive side of things took a bit of a hit this week.  Due to David Steckel's departure from the Capitals they felt it was necessary to recall Jay Beagle to fill his role. 

Beagle will not be returning to the Bears this season.  Players would have needed to be reassigned Monday to be eligible for Hershey's clear day rosters (which are due on 3/7) and he was not reassigned.  Neither were Tyler Sloan or DJ King.  So the Capitals are going to go with their 26 players and Hershey will see no reinforcements from Washington anymore this season.

Congrats to Beagle on getting a permanent (for this season anyway) home in Washington.  His penalty killing skill will be sorely missed here in Hershey.

Other than that the Bears come out of the NHL trade deadline unscathed.  And that surprised me.  I honestly thought Hershey was due to lose a couple of players to trades.  Washington seemed to have multiple needs to fill (they did) and I figured prospects would be offered to fill those positions.

The only prospect to move in the deals was Jake Hauswirth who had spent all of 09-10 and all of 10-11 in South Carolina. 

I am sure the Stingrays and their fans don't agree but it was a small price to play for the return.

So Hershey is set (for now) for the rest of the season.  Trades and loans among the AHL teams can still happen up through Monday but not much is expected out of Hershey.  The only place I think they could make a move would be to pick up a goalie for insurance purposes.  With the health of the NHLers and in turn their own goalies, the Bears might be inclined to pick up an experienced goaltender who could have an impact if called upon.

But other than that I think Yingst and company have to be pretty happy with where the team stands right now.  The defense is as deep as any year I can remember and while the offense has struggled of late there are pieces returning, Perreault now and Andrew Gordon later, that will surely improve that aspect.

Perreault comes back at a good time as there are 3 very important games over the next 5 days.

Tonight things kick off with a trip to Norfolk to face the 4th place Admirals.  Hershey is 3-0-0-0 against Norfolk this season winning by a combined 7-2.  Most recently the Bears visited southern Virginia on February 15th and left with a 2-1 victory over the host Admirals.

Hershey then plays host to Norfolk and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this weekend.  But first things first.

Norfolk has gained a point in 4 straight games to climb into a tie with Binghamton for the 4th spot in the East Division with 71 points.  They are currently positioned ahead of the Senators due to a higher winning percentage.  They trail the 3rd place Checkers by 5 and the 2nd place Bears by 9.

So this game is very important to the Admirals as well.  A win here and they would move 2 points up on Bingo while climbing to within 3 and 7 of the Checkers and Bears, respectively. 

The Bears need to be ready to go tonight as Norfolk is not going to want to lose again to Hershey.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 38-19-1-3 80 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 Win @ Bridgeport, 2/27
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
road record ~ 19-9-1-1
goals for ~ 203
goals against ~ 155
road power play ~ 17.4% (14th)
road penalty kill ~ 82.0% (16th)

Norfolk Admirals
record ~ 29-17-8-5 71 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 Win @ Albany, 2/27
last 5 games ~ 2-1-0-2
home record ~ 13-7-5-4
goals for ~ 195
goals against ~ 163
home power play ~15.3% (23rd)
home penalty kill ~ 86.3% (4th)

last time teams met - 4th meeting between the teams this season with Hershey controlling the season series 3-0-0-0. 
Players to watch:

C Mathieu Perreault (24) - Newest old member of the Bears has 8 goals and 17 assists in 18 games for Hershey this season.  Line mate with Bouchard and Lacroix heading into tonight's game.
RW Francois Bouchard (22) - He has only 9 goals and 19 points on the season.  He wasn't exactly lighting it up alongside Perry at the start of the season but the line mates were impressive last year.
LW Maxime Lacroix (20) - He scored in the last game against Bridgeport and has only 3 goals and 8 assists on the season (38 games) but playing alongside Perry should result in a few opportunities tonight.
C Marc-Antoine Pouliot (78) - Leads the team in points with 48 and is third in goals with 31.  He has 5 goals and 4 assists in his last 9 games.
LW Johan Harju (90) - Team leader in goals with 19 and 3rd in points with 38.  He recently returned to Norfolk after an extended recall to the NHL but in his last 5 AHL games he has 3 goals and 4 assists.
C Mattias Ritola (21) - Also recently send to Norfolk by Tampa Bay the 4th year player has only played in 8 games with the Admirals.  In those 8 games he has 9 assists (0 goals) including 5 assists in his last 3 games. 


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