Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bears welcome Norfolk to kick off tough stretch

This was a very strange week for the Bears.  They had 4 full days with no hockey.  They have not had a week like that since the All-Star break.

You can consider this past week the calm before the storm.

Starting tonight Hershey will play 7 games in the next 9 days. 

Even worse....those 7 games will be played in 5 different cities!  3 in Hershey and the remaining 4 on the road.

That is a tough stretch for a team at full strength let alone one that is still watching players drop like flies.  On Wednesday night Steve Pinizzotto and Patrick Wellar both left with injuries.  They are listed as day to day and are not expected to play this weekend.

Lawrence Nycholat was on pace to maybe return this weekend but he had a minor setback late this week and is again not expected to play. 

Braden Holtby is healthy again though...he will be in action sometime this upcoming week in Washington.  Yup, Varlamov is still hurt (anyone surprised?) so Braden was recalled the moment he was healthy.

But Doug Yingst did pull off a magic trick this week as he brought Nolan Schaefer in from Providence without giving up any players in return.  (And he says to expect more moves before Monday's clear day deadline....curious).

Schaefer adds solid depth but is not on the same level as Holtby and Dany Sabourin. 

Healthy players are healthy players and healthy AHL goalies in Hershey have been hard to come by of late so the addition is a welcome one.

Hershey has not been playing well of late against the better teams in the league.  In Hershey's last 12 games they have played 6 against current playoff teams and 6 against teams currently outside of the playoffs.

Overall Hershey is 6-6 in their last 12.

1-5 against the better 6.

5-1 against the low 6.

Not exactly setting the world on fire right now.  But at the same time they are beating the teams they are supposed to beat.  That is definitely a good sign.

Hopefully they can start playing better against tough competition though.  Starting tonight their next 3 games are against teams currently in the playoffs. 

And losing those games would not be good.

The Bears got lucky this week as Charlotte has only played once in the last 7 days and they lost.  So they did not gain any ground.

But Norfolk did.  The Admirals currently sit 5 points behind Hershey in the standings.  They will make 2 trips to Giant Center over the next 9 days, tonight and next Sunday. 

The good news there...Norfolk has not won a game IN HERSHEY since February 14, 2009.  Since that date they are 0-8 at Giant Center.

The Admirals didn't exactly get good news since the Wednesday night game either.  4 of their 6 goals that night were scored by Mattias Ritola and Blair Jones.

Neither player is with Norfolk this weekend as both were recalled to Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Fun with stats:
  • Norfolk wins 79.6% of the time when scoring first
  • Hershey wins 82.9% of the time (2nd in the AHL)
  • Norfolk has scored the first goal 27 times in 61 games (winning 19 times)
  • Hershey has scored the first goal an AHL high 41 times in 62 games (32 wins)
  • Norfolk has a -1 goal differential in the 1st period
  • Hershey has a +17 goal differential in the 1st
  • Norfolk has a +25 goal differential in the 2nd
  • Hershey is only +6 in the 2nd
  • Norfolk is #1 in the AHL with 34.30 shots per game
  • Hershey is #11 with 30.61
  • Norfolk is 17-0-0-2 when leading after the 1st or 2nd period on the road
  • Hershey is 29-1-0-4 when leading after the 1st or 2nd period at home

Hershey Bears
record ~ 38-20-1-3 80 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 6-1 Loss @ Norfolk, 3/2
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
home record ~ 19-10-0-2
goals for ~ 204
goals against ~ 161
home power play ~ 22.3% (5th)
home penalty kill ~ 86.0% (5th)

Norfolk Admirals
record ~ 31-17-8-5 75 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 1-0 Win @ Albany, 3/4
last 5 games ~ 4-0-0-1
road record ~ 17-10-3-1
goals for ~202
goals against ~ 164
road power play ~19.3% (9th)
road penalty kill ~ 82.2% (16th)

last time teams met - 5th meeting between the teams this season with Hershey leading the season series 3-1-0-0.  Despite the 2 game lead the teams have each scored 8 goals in the season series.

Players to watch:

C Keith Aucoin (11) - Hershey is only 2-8-1-0 when he plays and doesn't record a point.  In his first 34 games of the season he failed to record a point in only 4 games.  In his last 11 games he has failed to score in 7 games.
RW Brian Willsie (18) - The Bears leading goal scorer this season with 23 goals he has failed to score in 9 games and has only 2 assists over that time.
LW Kyle Greentree (37) - He is tied for 2nd on the team with 22 goals but only 2 of those have come in his last 11 games.

C Marc-Antoine Pouliot (78) - Leads the team in points with 51 and is third in goals with 18.  He has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games.
LW Johan Harju (90)
LW Chris Durno (25) - He has 16 goals and 16 assists on the season.  He has goals in 2 straight games.


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