I would contend, however, that the Bears have been the better team in roughly 4 of the 6 periods to date. Take out the 3rd period of game 1 and the 1st period of game 2 and I think it would be tough to argue that Hershey has been the better team.
But that doesn't mean anything heading into game 3. Nothing from the past matters at this point.
So what should we expect in game 3?
Well it starts with bad news. Per Tim Leone...Gordon is not in Charlotte today and while he could fly in he isn't expected to play in games 3-5.
So Gordon is out and Ashton Rome will take his place in the lineup. (Mistake number 1...read further)
Steve Pinizzotto will move up to the top line with Boyd Kane and Keith Aucoin. (Mistake number 2)
Francois Bouchard moves up to the 3rd line so Rome can enter on the 4th line. (Mistake number 3)
Obviously you can see that I don't agree with those moves. Here is what I would have done followed by my reasons (and these moves I suggest are based on French's preference to not change the lines TOO much...personally I would blow them up and start over):
Move Brian Willsie up to the top line to take Gordon's spot.
Move Andrew Kozek to the 2nd line to replace Willsie.
Dmitri Kugryshev would become the 3rd winger on the 4th line.
The Willsie move is simple. You NEED BALANCE! What does Pinner do well? Crash the net. What does Kane do best? Crashes the net. What does Aucoin do best? Sets up scorers. Except now he has no scorers. Yeah I know...Kane and Pinner combined for 41 goals this season. Great!
Combined they have scored 7 goals in March and April. Just sayin'.
Willsie can score (30 goals this year) and he works well with Aucoin.
Kozek to 2nd line. This is simple. Kozek I goes to the net for his goals. He would be playing with Kyle Greentree, who loves to shoot, and Mathieu Perreault who, like Aucoin, likes to set up scorers. And Kozek has been playing great of late. He would also add an "edge" to the line with his physical play.
And finally I just think Kugryshev is better than Rome. Especially for the 4th line. Rome's biggest weakness is his eagerness to shoot. That would be fine on the top 2 lines but the key to success for the 4th line is to cycle and get the opposition tired and then get your shots. Kugryshev can stick handle with anyone which would allow Maxime Lacroix and Francois Bouchard to go the net and/or cycle behind it with him. I just don't think Rome is near as good at fitting that role.
Could I be wrong about these moves? Hell, I hope I am. Nothing would make me happier then writing tomorrow..."Well, I was wrong...Kane and Pinner each score and the Bears win."
But I think Hershey is in trouble. The 3rd and 4th lines have been great up until now. Now they are completely different. I don't like it...it worries me.
Not saying that Pinner isn't good enough to play on the top 2 lines....he is. I could see the argument for moving to the 2nd line instead of Kozek. I am fine with that but that 3rd line has been playing so well I don't want to see it broken up.
Only 6 more hours to see how everything works out.
The Leone update says that Gordon could fly down for games 4 and/or 5 but you have to imagine that if he can't go tonight he won't be able to tomorrow.
Hershey can win without him...they did in February (a little bit). But having him adds a significant dimension to the roster.
It will be interesting to see how the lines gel.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!!