1. It was a good season. The Bears dealt with injuries and recalls all season to finish in the top few teams of the AHL. Trying to compare this team to the 08-09 or 09-10 versions just wasn't fair but human nature is such that we tried to do that time and time again.
In the end it was a great season that I feel ended before it was supposed to. But you can't win them all and Hershey's record run of 8 straight playoff series wins ended there...at 8.
2. Congratulations to the Charlotte Checkers. They were the better team in the series. You saw it in game 1 and that continued through game 6. Despite the urgency that Hershey should have possessed in game 6 it was the Checkers that had the quick counter punch and the Checkers had the majority of the scoring opportunities.
They played a great season and deserved the victory. Now...go get those Penguins!!!!
Okay...now that those two points are out of the way I want to say a couple more things about game 6 and the series as a whole. Then we will move on and look at the offseason and follow the Caps as they look to continue deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Personally I blame the game 6 and series loss on 2 things...
1. Lazy play. The final goal was exactly what cost this team during the playoffs....too many guys standing around watching and not enough playing.
It was almost as if the Bears expected to win and were just waiting for the puck to go in the Charlotte net or be cleared from theirs.
Sure, Braden Holtby didn't play as well as he did during the regular season...BUT neither did the defense. Routinely Checkers were left standing by themselves right beside the goal just waiting for a rebound. And those rebounds came (sometimes far too often) and that is an easy way to score goals in the playoffs.
Offensively this team just wasn't the same without Andrew Gordon. Once he went down the Bears chances seemed to go with him.
Which brings me to my 2nd complaint...
2. Coaching. I know French is a good coach but personally I think he let down the Hershey team and the fans. If you watched the game yesterday you know that Hershey generated FEW real scoring chances. And while I didn't see games 3-5 I expect that those games looked very similar to game 6.
You watch in the NHL and you see coaches willing to make changes. Last year the Blackhawks shuffled lines in the Stanley Cup finals to get Toews and Kane more chances. This year you have goalies being pulled every game in Philly. In Vancouver the coach had the guts to sit Roberto Luongo.....yeah one of the best goalies in the league...because of 2 subpar outings. Even in Washington you saw Boudreau make line adjustments damn near every period during the season.
But in Hershey? French rolled the same lineup with the same line combinations for 4 straight games after Gordon went down. And it worked 1 time. And even that 1 time Hershey tried to blow a 3 goal lead.
I don't know if different combinations would have worked...no one does. But I knew that the same ones wouldn't. And honestly...when I saw the scratches and the starting lineup last night a sense of calm kind of came over me. I obviously still believed but at the same time I knew that this was quite possibly the last time we would be in Hershey this spring.
And that sucked. I just feel like French left something on the table. I feel like he could have done more. In the end it comes down to the players but the coaches didn't help them.
All series long they kept saying..."if we just play our game for 60 minutes." What does that mean? Sure if you say that after one game it makes sense. But we have been saying that about this team all season. In my opinion it was all the more reason to make some changes to the lineup and go out swinging.
But instead it feels as though they just rolled over and died.
In the end it really came down to one simple thing....Andrew Gordon. You could have asked me before the playoffs to name one player that Hershey couldn't "afford to lose" and I would have listed at least 3 other names before Gordo.
Apparently I was wrong. He was the Hershey offense this year. Sure other guys scored goals but none were as dominant as Gordo when he was healthy.
Unfortunately that was only evident when he wasn't healthy...including in the playoffs.
But in the end one injury should not derail a season like this.
Oh well. As I said above...You can't win them all.
Next year is another opportunity to hang banner #12.
LET'S GO CAPS!!!!!