Friday, April 22, 2011

Uh-oh...Bears face elimination Sunday

3-0 Hershey was the score tonight with 3 minutes to go in the 2nd period.  3 to nothing.

The final score...

5-3 Charlotte.

5 unanswered goals by the Checkers creates a very unfamiliar feeling for the Bears.  Hershey has not faced elimination in the postseason since the 2nd round in 2009 when Wilkes-Barre held a 3 games to 2 series lead after 5. 

The Bears proceeded to win the next 2 games (two 3-0 shootouts actually) on home ice. 

Michal Neuvirth was in goal for those games. 

He isn't coming back to save the Bears this year.  If Hershey is going to win, Braden Holtby HAS TO BE BETTER! 

I am not going to blame him exclusively for the collapse.  I didn't see the game so I can't judge the goals.  But I can say this...

Braden has 8 playoff games to his name.  He is 4-4 with a 3.37 goals against average and an .874 save percentage. 

Those are easy to interpret....they are bad!  Simple as that.

In this series he is 2-3 with a 3.23 gaa and a .885 save %.  Better than his career numbers but definitely not good. 

He isn't controlling rebounds and he is still making mistakes.  The first Charlotte goal (based on John Waltons call) sounds like it was a Holtby turnover when he was out playing the puck. 

Personally I think Braden should play the puck.  That is part of the game and I don't have a problem with it.  But he has to stand on his head and make the necessary saves when the game is on the line. 

And he hasn't.

But he isn't getting much help either.  The goalie alone is not responsible for a collapse like you saw tonight.  Since I didn't see it I can't say who played well and who didn't but I can take a guess based on the score sheet.

Patrick McNeill was on the ice for 4 of Charlotte's goals.  So was Brian Willsie.  Rome, Carroll, Joudrey, Kane, Fahey, and Greentree were on the ice for 2 goals against.

Much of the credit has to be given to the Charlotte Checkers.  They have outscored Hershey by a score of 9-2 in the 3rd period. 

9 goals allowed over 5 games in the 3rd period.  Unacceptable. 

All season this team has failed to commit themselves for a full 60 minutes.  When they play for a full 60 they are a very tough team to beat but they do it so rarely you wouldn't know it. 

I thought that would end in the playoffs.  I thought with the veteran leadership on the team that they would come out in the postseason and start finishing games. 

So far they haven't.

Obviously we can all point our fingers and pick out things that haven't worked.  Power play, goaltending, defense, offense, lines, coaching....I guess that is everything. 

But right now I think it is as simple as this...

Charlotte wants it more.  They have been the better team in the series to this point.  You saw it in game 1 and you continue to see it game after game.

If the Bears don't decide they want it before Sunday then it will be an early summer for a Hershey Bears team that is used to playing into June.

It's not over until they win 4.

Hershey has been in this position before and they have risen to the occasion.

Can they do it again?  Who will lead the charge? 

We find out Sunday.

(But I will have an opinion before then.  Check back tomorrow or Sunday morning and find out what I think needs to happen - hint: if you have been reading this week you should know my #1 fix - and who needs to step up)

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