Sunday, March 20, 2011

They got a's better than nothing, right?

Hershey entered play last night with a record of 29-0-0-3 when leading after 2 periods.  After 2 periods last night Hershey led the Portland Pirates 3-2. 

They are now 29-0-1-3 when leading after 2.  An overtime goal by Mark Parrish ended the game with about 2 minutes to go in the extra frame.

It surely wasn't the outcome that the Bears and the fans were hoping for as Hershey fielded its most complete lineup in a couple of months. 

Braden Holtby returned from Washington early in the day and made 27 saves in the loss.  Andrew Gordon skated on Giant Center ice for the first time since February 5 and picked up his 23rd goal of the season.  Steve Pinizzotto played for the first time since March 2 and he accrued 14 penalty minutes.

But in the end it wasn't enough.  Portland is a good team and when you fail to convert on a 5 on 3 that lasted almost 2 minutes and a 5 minute major then you are probably not going to win the game.

The loss was Hershey's 2nd to Portland in extra time in the last 2 weeks.  On March 8 the Bears lost in a shootout up in Maine. 

Hershey played a solid game but it wasn't enough.  And it surely wasn't their best effort. 

Here is an interesting thought....Holtby has played 4 games with the Bears since February 19.  And he has played 5 games with the Capitals in that span.

In the Hershey games he has allowed 15 goals on 120 shots.  A save percentage of 87.5.

In the Caps games he has allowed 6 goals on 140 shots.  A save percentage of 97.1.

At first thought maybe you would say that he is playing harder with the Caps than he is in Hershey.  Maybe but I doubt it.

The 2nd thought would be maybe the speed of the game is that much different and making the change from fast to middle of the pack is throwing off his timing.  Probably a little but not that much.

Or maybe the defenses in front of him are playing at a different level when he is in the game. 

When a backup goalie has to make a few starts you can usually see a difference in the effort level of a defense.  They are more eager to block shots, they position better, and they flat out play better.  They know that the goalie behind them is maybe not as good as their #1 and they need to do more to get a win.

When the #1 goalie comes back then it would make sense that the absolute is at least a little true.  The defense trusts the goalie more so they will take more chances then usual.  They jump up more or chase to the corner more because they feel confident that the #1 will bail them out if necessary.

Obviously that is hard to statistically prove but one example might be this...we already mentioned that Braden has faced 120 shots in his last 4 games.  Nolan Schaefer has faced only 107 in his last 4. 

Is that just because of the competition?  Or is it because the defense plays better and blocks more shots? 

There really isn't any way to figure that out definitively.  But I think there could be something there.

Hopefully the defense plays better tonight so Hershey can get the win against Syracuse.  The Crunch come to town for the 3rd game of their 3 in 3.  So far they have 2 wins at home during the stretch including a 6-1 win over Charlotte last night.

The Crunch and Bears have played 4 times this season with Hershey winning 3 of them.  They haven't played since New Year's Eve when the Crunch came to Hershey and won 4-2. 

Syracuse isn't what you would call an offense juggernaut.  They rank 28th in the AHL with only 2.44 goals per game.  And they aren't that much better defensively as they give up 3.10 goals per game which is good for 22nd in the league.

Their leading goal scorer, Patrick Maroon, has only 19 goals and they only have 5 active players with double digit goals.

Hershey's has 4 players with more than 20 goals and 7 players with double digit goals.

Should be...I stress SHOULD BE...a win for the Bears tonight.  If Hershey wants the #2 seed in the East Division they better beat the 7th place team on home ice!

Hershey Bears
record ~ 42-22-2-5 | 91 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 OT Loss vs Portland, 3/19
last 5 games ~ 3-0-1-1
home record ~ 20-11-1-3
goals for ~ 227
goals against ~ 184
road power play ~ 22.2% (3rd)
home penalty kill ~ 85.1% (10th)

Syracuse Crunch
record ~ 26-35-3-4 | 59 points
standings ~ 7th in East Division
most recent game ~ 6-1 Win vs Charlotte, 3/19
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
road record ~ 11-20-1-2
goals for ~166
goals against ~211
road power play ~16.8% (17th)
home penalty kill ~ 81.0% (21st)

last time teams met - This will be the 5th meeting of the season between the Crunch and Bears.  So far Hershey has gone 3-1-0-0 against Syracuse outscoring the Crunch 14-8.


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