Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's simple....Bears MUST win

Game 6 is tomorrow evening.  Easter Sunday.  A Bears win means there is life yet with a winner take all game 7 on Monday night.

If the Bears lose....

It's an odd thought really.  Sure this team isn't as good as last years team.  Everyone knew it was going to be harder to get yet another chance at the Calder Cup.  No one thought it was a foregone conclusion.

But to be done watching hockey at Giant Center in April? 

That just doesn't happen...does it?

We find out soon enough.  But I can guarantee you one thing...

Charlotte is not going to lay down.  The Checkers have presented the 2010-11 Hershey Bears with a somewhat unexpected challenge.

The Checkers, for a majority of the series, have been the better team.  Both teams have, at times, been dominant and both teams, at times, have been extremely vulnerable. 

Hershey needs to change the game.  They need to take control.  They need to be dominant in game 6 and 7 and force the Checkers to appear vulnerable for 120 minutes. 

It is time to make changes to the lineup.  Drastic in some cases. 

I know there are some people (Coach French is probably one of them) that would say why change now.  It could hurt the chemistry, it could affect the team.  There is no time for them to adjust and adapt to the changes.

Personally I think that is bs.  My thoughts would be simple...

1.  What your doing hasn't exactly worked so why continue it?

2.  Wouldn't you rather go down swinging then standing there and taking strike 3? 

That's pretty much what doing nothing is.  Assuming that it was luck or a few fortunate bounces that led to your 3 losses. 

It can't be the team!  They are so good together.


The first change that HAS TO HAPPEN....

Lawrence Nycholat has to dress for this game.  I am 99% certain he can replace Sean Collins on the clear day roster (or Andrew Gordon at this point).  So the only thing stopping them is the veteran rule.  And that is a problem. 

Hershey has 6 veterans with only 5 spots.  Boyd Kane, Keith Aucoin, Sheldon Souray, Brian Fahey, Brian Willsie, and Nycholat.

So who do you sit.  Well if it was me I would strongly consider Kane but we know it won't be him so it has to be Souray.  Take away his big shot and what do you have....a slightly better version of Patrick Wellar. 

He is a very good player.  But so is Nycholat.  And when Nycholat was manning the point on the power play the Bears were a different team.  Since he has been out of the lineup the power play has slowly gone from being one of the best in the league to extremely average. 

And in this series they have been dreadful.  They have scored 1 power play goal in the series.  And that came in the 1st period of game 1. 

Overall they are 1 for 24 with the man advantage.

If you were looking for the main reason that the Bears are struggling in the series I think you just found it.

Will Nycholat fix the problem?  I have no idea but I would sure love to find out.

Fix #2

CHANGE THE DAMN LINES!!!!  Anyone who has been reading this blog over the past week knows that I have not been pleased with the line makeup.  Especially since Gordon went down. 

Obviously things haven't been that bad either.  They have managed to score 16 goals in the series.  But they have also allowed 17. 

Line combinations don't just affect offense.  They also impact the defensive end.

Line #1 is currently Kane, Aucoin, and Steve Pinizzotto.  All three have tempers.  All three can, at times, become distracted and forget defensive assignments.  And while Aucoin is fast, the other two are not.  Kane and Pinner would rather hit you into the boards then stay in their respective zones. 

Sure, Kaner and Pinner are both excellent penalty killers.  But that is a different mentality then 5 on 5.  Earlier this season they played with Andrew Joudrey as their center.  Joudrey thrives in the defensive end so if Kane and/or Pinner are skating around playing a "hit everything that moves" style of game he is there to help the defense shoulder the load.  But right now they are playing with Aucoin.

That it turn puts a lot of pressure on the defense and Holtby.  So far they have not been able to handle it.

In addition they aren't carrying their weight offensively.  Hell at the offensive end they can't even be considered the #1 line anymore. 

And that is a problem.  For games 3-5 Hershey has had 1 scoring line.  Sure other lines have chipped in but only 1 line causes the Checkers any worry right now. 

So Charlotte can just sit and wait for a mistake against 75% of the Hershey team.  They don't have to worry about getting caught up ice against 3 of the 4 lines.  Sure Aucoin can kill you but Kane...Pinner?  Not exactly striking fear into opposing goaltenders.

But move Willsie to the top line and that changes everything.  All of a sudden an Aucoin/Willsie breakaway strikes much more fear into the opposing defense and goaltender.

And a Perreault/Greentree threat is still there on line #2. 

Balance.  It is quite possibly the simplest thing a hockey team can do.  Spread out your stars and force other teams to defend multiple lines.  Unfortunately Hershey hasn't done that since Gordon went down.

But the problems don't stop at the top line.  Lines 3 and 4 have been solid but they need to be better.  Ashton Rome has not had a great season. 

And he isn't what Hershey needs right now.  He is not a playmaker, he isn't a great player in his own end (although he is solid in that regard), and he isn't a prominent goal scorer. 

So why is he in?  I have no idea.

I want a line that looks like this...

Andrew Kozek, Andrew Carroll, and Dmitri Kugryshev.  I don't care if it's the 3rd line or the 4th line.  I want to see it and I guarantee you they will get some excellent chances IF they are given a chance.  If you want to you could even put Joudrey in Carroll's spot but I would rather go with 3 scoring lines (which this would be) instead of 2 defensive lines which it would be if Joudrey is there.

The Bears have tried the defensive lines for the first 5 games of the series...they lost 3 times. 

It is time to fight fire with fire.  Hershey has players that can score. 

It's time to let them play. 

Put them in positions to be successful and I am confident that the Bears will win the series. 

Continue to set your roster as if you are trying not to lose....I suspect they will lose. 

We find out in less than 24 hours.

Will Hershey live to see a game 7 Monday or will the Bears be having exit interviews and setting up tee times instead?



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