Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sens/Aeros final ; New Layout...what do you think?

First of all the Binghamton Senators and Houston Aeros have won their respective conferences and will begin play in the Calder Cup Finals on Friday in Houston. 

Should be an entertaining series.  If you have a few bucks (and a good bit of patience) you can see it all (or most of it anyway depending on how their service holds up) over at 

Personally I think the Sens will take it.  No real reason for that opinion...just a gut call. 


Not sure if you noticed...(if you are reading this via a reader or something you obviously haven't but if you are actually reading on the site you must be blind to not notice)...but I made some slight/major changes to the layout/design of the web page. 

I am still using the blogger technology so it is a little limited but I like some of the features I added. 

You will notice the new Pages links below the header.  Some of these are future pages (such as 2011-12 schedule and stats) that will be updated when the information is provided and the season starts. 

I also have a page dedicated to the 2011-12 roster for you to check out.  This is up to date as of today and will be updated whenever there are new signings/assignments.  All the players on the list are eligible to play in Hershey next season. Some likely won't but you never know.

My goal is to give you a one-stop shop for everything Hershey Bears.  Hopefully during the 2011-12 season you will be able to find current stats, upcoming games, and all the previews and reviews that I can write. 

I also included an about me page for those of you curious...and yes I think most of you are.  As well as a contact me page which really just moved from the main page. 

If you would like to share your opinion on the updated site...please leave a comment but remember what your mother taught you...if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.  Because we all know that I follow that rule!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Zach Miskovic back for 2011-12

Look at this...2 posts in one day!!!  And you thought this blog was dormant for the summer..HA.

The Caps and Bears announced that Zach Miskovic was signed to a one year extension for the upcoming 2011-12 season. 

This is good news for the Bears as he will certainly be a member of Hershey's team next season with (maybe) a call up or two to Washington depending on injuries.

When not playing with the stuffed animals from a Teddy Bear Toss, Zach had 6 goals and 10 assists for the Bears this past season in 57 games.

B-Sens have commanding lead; Caps prospects having success

It is still really odd to have so long in between the end of the season and the time when offseason roster moves start happening. 

The last 2 years saw the season end in mid June with the NHL draft and free agency within a couple weeks of that.  So there was always conversation related to the Bears to keep hockey right at our finger tips.

But this year is different.  We still have 5 and a half weeks until the draft and yet another week after that until free agency begins. 

It is becoming a long offseason.  I don't like it.


The AHL playoffs are still going on and two East Division teams are still alive and well.  The Charlotte Checkers and Binghamton Senators remain in the hunt as they battle for the Eastern Conference crown.

Currently the Senators are up 3 games to none and it hasn't been close with the B-Sens outscoring the Checkers by a combined 17-5 in the three games to date.  Game 4 is scheduled for tonight so that series could end soon.

Before the playoffs started I said to watch out for Binghamton.  They were on a tear at the end of the season and then added a bunch of good players for the playoffs.  So I am not entirely surprised by their success. 

Over in the Western Conference the Houston Aeros are also up 3 games to none over the Hamilton Bulldogs.  This series has been much closer as neither team has scored more than 3 goals in a game.  Overall Houston has outscored the Bulldogs by a combined 8-5. 

I don't know much about the Western Conference since Hershey rarely plays these teams.  But I do remember reading something from either John Walton or Tim Leone after Peoria was eliminated by the Aeros.  Graham Mink, a former Bear, said at the time that this team had the makeup of a Calder Cup Champion and he expected to see them make a good run.

So far he has been right.  Game 4 of this series is also scheduled for tonight so by the end of the night the Calder Cup finals could be set and scheduled.

Changing topics back to Hershey for a minute...

Multiple Capitals prospects will be participating in the Memorial Cup which starts this week...Friday to be exact.  It would appear that you will be able to see at least some of the games, if not all, on NHL network beginning this Saturday with a replay of the opening game.

Cody Eakin, Stanislav Galiev, and Brett Fleming will represent their respective teams in the 4 team tournament to decide the champion of the CHL. 

Eakin and the Kootenay Ice won the WHL league title to earn this trip with Eakin showing up huge all postseason scoring 11 goals and adding 16 assists in only 19 playoff games.  He finished second in the WHL in playoff scoring.

Eakin signed his three year entry level contract with Washington and will report to training camp this fall.  He is expected to push for a spot on the Caps opening night roster but most expect him to start the season in Hershey.  Keep in mind though that he almost made the Caps out of camp this past year so it is not a foregone conclusion that he will report to Hershey...ever.

Galiev and the Saint John Sea Dogs won the QMJHL league title.  He has also performed very well for his team totaling 10 goals and 17 assists in 19 playoff games.  That was good enough for 5th in the QMJHL playoff scoring.

Galiev still has a year of junior eligibility remaining so he will not be in Hershey next season but look for him in 2012-13.
Defensemen Fleming represents the Mississagua St. Michael's Majors of the OHL, the hosting team for this years 2011 Memorial Cup.  Fleming helped his team offensively with a goal and 13 assists during the playoffs which was good enough for 6th amongst defensemen in the OHL.

Like Eakin, Fleming signed his entry deal already and is expected to compete for a spot in Hershey next season.  Defensemen generally need more seasoning so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him spend some time in South Carolina but he will surely be given a shot to earn a permanent spot in Hershey.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Should they fire Bruce Boudreau?

This is the question everyone is asking right now.  Will (or should) the Caps fire their head coach?  And everyone has an opinion on it.  Including me.

Should they fire Bruce?  Seems straightforward enough considering his history in the playoffs.  Despite taking many extremely talented teams (and top seeds) into the postseason he has failed to pass the 2nd round. 

In the regular season though the Caps are as good as anyone.  Whether they outscore you, as in years past, or out-defend you, like this year, they end up as the #1 team in the Eastern Conference.

But the playoffs don't see the same success.

So is that an indicator of the coach...or the team?

Personally I think it is an indicator of the team.  Let's look at what wins in the NHL playoffs:

Ugly goals
Hard work around the boards
Puck movement
Solid defensive zone play
Great goaltending

What of those things are the Caps good at?  Surely not the "ugly" goals and usually not the hard work around the boards.  The Caps generally like to make the cute pass that gets the pretty goals but that doesn't work in the postseason.  Guys are more willing to block a pass or a shot during the playoffs then they are during the regular season.  They gamble more and in turn they keep the "cute" teams off the scoreboard.

You don't have to have a team made up of Johan Franzen's to win.  But your star players need to be willing to much it up in the corners and in front of the net.  Cycle the puck and get opportunities.  Crash the net and look for the rebounds. 

The Caps do move the puck well and their defensive zone play was good against the Rangers but against an explosive offensive team like Tampa they were unable to slow them down. 

And the goaltending was solid this playoff year.  Michal Neuvirth played very well.  Neuvy is very consistent but will sometimes let in a goal he should have...which all goalies do at times.  In my opinion he should be the #1 goalie going forward but what do I know.

So they have 3 of the 5 items they need.  Now they need some scoring help.

Will firing Boudreau fix that problem???   NO!

Bringing in a new coach with the same players is not the solution.  In the infamous words of Peanut, "polish a turd, it's still a turd."

It is time to revamp the offense.  And no that does not mean wait for the youngsters to be ready.  Cody Eakin could use a year in the AHL and Evgeni Kuznetsov isn't coming over for at least another year and will need time to get acclimated to the NHL game.

So instead of going out and getting players a couple years past their prime (Jason Arnott and Marco Sturm) let's see if the Caps go out and get real talented players.  And then move some other pieces.  Alexander Semin will NEVER be a great playoff performer.  His game and attitude will not allow it.  Trade him for a package of players.  I would be curious if you could get a Michael Grabner type player for him.  Or a solid #2 center like a Stephen Weiss.

Say goodbye to Arnott, Sturm, Boyd Gordon, and Matt Bradley.  If possible trade Tyler Sloan and Mike Knuble (in addition to Semin) and let's see the Caps really try and make this team better.

There are going to be good players (playoff time goal scorers) available this summer....there always are in the NHL.  Time to make the changes and go get them.

Just a brief list of guys I would love to see join Washington this year...(all players shown as unrestricted free agents on
  • Ville Leino
  • Nikolai Zherdev
  • Maxime Talbot
  • Alexander Frolov
  • Sean Bergenheim
  • Simon Gagne
  • Scottie Upshall
  • Radim Vrbata

So...should the Caps fire Boudreau?  Not if that is the only change you make because I don't think it will help enough. 

If you are going to blow up the roster and fell that it will be best to start over with the coach too...then long Bruce.

But Boudreau is not the main problem.  The roster is.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thoughts on the NHL, AHL, and tv coverage

Just because the Bears were eliminated a little earlier than we are accustomed to doesn't mean hockey ended.  So let me share with you my thoughts on things going on in both the NHL and AHL with an opinion on the NHL TV coverage thrown in too...

1.  Capitals

Let's start here since many of us loyal Bears fans are rooting for the former Bears currently wearing Caps sweaters.  The Caps find themselves in a 2-0 hole after 2 losses on home ice in the NHL's second round against division rival Tampa Bay.

They have played good but it hasn't been enough.  The Lightning have managed to pull out the wins up to this point and now the series shifts to Tampa for games 3 and 4 tonight and tomorrow night. 

My opinion...Caps have to win both.  Obviously they could split in Tampa and come back from 3-1 down but I don't see it. 

In my eyes the Caps have a couple glaring problems.  1)  A star who likes to shoot.  When he gets frustrated he likes to shoot more.  Which is exactly what Tampa wants.  When Ovi skates into the zone, cuts the middle, and fires a wrist shot the Tampa coaches can hardly contain their joy.  Every time it happens the Tampa defense is ready to block the shot.  He needs to get the puck in deep and start moving it around.  Get traffic to the net and get shots on Roloson. 

2)  Lack of a true supporting cast.  In Pittsburgh you have Malkin and Staal to go with Crosby.  In Philly you have two full lines of scorers.  In Tampa you have Vinny, St. Louis and Stamkos, Chicago has Kane, Toews, and Sharp.  Vancouver...the Sedins and Kesler.  San Jose...Thornton, Marleau, Couture, and others.  Each of those teams has 3 guys they can count on too score when they need it.  Right now the Caps have how many?  One?  Backstrom isn't playing well, Johansson isn't quite there yet, Arnott was there a few years ago, Knuble too.  So that leaves Laich and Semin.  I could see a Laich/Staal comparison here.  Both solid players who score.  And that's great but it isnt' enough.  Semin...I know he has been better this playoff year but something still seems to be missing from his game.

In the end the Caps have Ovi (who's game isn't evolving the way it needs to in the postseason) and a bunch of guys who either aren't carrying their own weight or who aren't good enough.

Will it be enough?  Maybe but someone has to step up and score goals.  Tampa is a good team but they aren't THAT good. 

The East is wide open.  No dominant teams exist and every team has their flaws.  If Washington can't overcome theirs (and quickly) they will be golfing with the Bears sooner than later.

2. Flyers

Let me start by saying this...I despise this team.  I am sure the players are great human beings and are probably the nicest guys in the world.  But once they put on the ugly orange jersey they become the face of evil.  There are players on this team that at one time or another I didn't mind them as a player...Claude Giroux is one that comes to mind but now that he is a card carrying member of the Flyers fraternity...I despise him.

That being said...this team is as talented as any team in the NHL.  If they had even the slightest hint of a competent goalie they would likely be rolling to the Stanley Cup.  But their goaltending situation is a mess, to say the least, and they, like the Caps, find themselves down 2 game to none.

Despite the fact that Boston is probably the tougher opponent than Tampa Bay I still think the Caps are in a tougher spot.  The Flyers have proven that they play as good or better when faced with adversity.  They seem to thrive when they find themselves trailing in a series. 

I do think Boston is ready this year after blowing a 3 games to none lead last spring.  I do think Philly has to win both games in Boston, just like the Caps in Tampa, to win the series.  But I wouldn't write the Flyers off as much as the Caps IF the Bruins were to win game 3.

Go Bruins!!

3.  The AHL playoffs

These are much less interesting to me without the Bears in it.  Not because I care less but the games aren't on TV so unless I sit at my computer and either pay to see them (not gonna happen) or listen on the radio (highly unlikely) the only updates I get are from and some blogs.  And that isn't enough to keep me thoroughly interested.

But just for an update...

The Checkers have a 2-1 series lead with games 4 and 5 in Charlotte this Wednesday and Friday.  Should the series go past that (let's hope not) then the teams would have to travel late Friday night for a Saturday evening game in Wilkes-Barre.  That is a tough schedule.

Based on things I have read and seen it would appear that the Checkers have been the better team this series.  That could be wrong as I haven't followed really close but that's the impression I get. 

And all I have to say is...GOOD!   Go Checkers!

In the other Eastern Conference series the Binghamton Senators have a 3-1 series lead over Portland with game 5 coming tonight in Binghamton.  It would be smart for the Senators to show up tonight intent on ending the Pirates season as games 6 and 7 would be back in Maine. 

I said before the playoffs started that I expected Binghamton to come out of the Atlantic bracket and cause some problems.  They got off to a rough start, going down 3-1 against Manchester, but have come back pretty well winning 6 of their last 7 games, 5 of them on the road.

Could you imagine a Binghamton vs Charlotte Eastern Conference Final????  Who would have thought that was possible when the playoffs (or season for that matter) started!

4.  NHL TV Coverage

I watch a lot of sports on football and basketball, NFL, baseball, tennis, some golf, lacrosse, and obviously hockey.  And I have to say that I think Mike 'Doc' Emrick is the best play by play man in any sport.  I enjoy listening to Doc call games more than anyone else on TV or radio (sorry John Walton).  His enthusiasm and knowledge makes it very enjoyable to watch the games.  He always has litte anecdotes to throw out there too...and he does it in a way to make it seem important to the game. 

It doesn't hurt that anytime he is doing a Caps game he gives Hershey a mention!