Wednesday, November 23, 2011

GameDay Preview: Bears vs Bruins

This will be the first (and maybe only) weekend where Bears fans truly feel the effects of the shorter/longer/revamped AHL schedule.  In years past the Bears would play 4 games in 5 nights around Thanksgiving with home games the Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday and a road game Friday night.  Honestly I was hoping they would keep the 3 home games and do away with the Friday road game but they did not for 2011-12.

Instead the Bears will play 4 games in 7 nights as they travel to Connecticut on Tuesday.

Things have not been going well for the Bears of late though.  Their last win came 2 weeks ago on Wednesday the 9th when the beat Binghamton at home. 

In fact the Bears have only twice in their last 9 games...both against Binghamton at home. 

But I am feeling confident tonight.  I feel a win coming. 

Ryan Potulny and Matthew Ford are both expected back in the lineup tonight for the first time in a while.  Potulny hasn't played since the 2nd game of the season due to a sports hernia that he may have suffered last spring but never had looked at. 

Ford hasn't played since November 4th against the Pens.  He has 3 goals and 3 assists in 11 games played this season and his return will be very good for the teams offensive productivity.

Maybe the return of these players will mean DJ King will be a healthy scratch.  King was reassigned by the Capitals to Hershey because he and his agent wanted him to play more.  It is an understandable desire, but I wish it would have happened somewhere else. 

He has played in 5 games, dating back to the Binghamton win on the 9th, and is a -6 in those games including an embarrassing -4 against the Baby Pens back on the 11th.  If you take out the win over Binghamton he is -7 in his last 4 games. 

And last week I saw two separate incidents which make me question his motives in Hershey.  The first was after one of his penalties expired.  Typically guys come out of the box and if his line is not on the ice he skates to the bench for a change IMMEDIATELY (if the situation call for it). 

Last Saturday he came out of the box with the Bears possessing the puck in their own end with minimal rush from the Devils.  The Hanson-Micflikier-Mink line was on the ice...except for Mink.  So what did King do?  He stood at the blue line waiting for a pass and then proceeded to join the rush while Mink sat on the boards waiting for his change.  And yes Mink was up and waiting...this was not an instance when Coach French didn't call for the change.  King just didn't come to the bench.

The other incident was during a delayed penalty on the Devils.  Generally, watch for it tonight if you don't believe me, the Bears (or any team) will try to get their best offensive players on the ice if they have the opportunity.  Last Saturday Braden made it to the bench and the Bears possessed the puck in their own end and many players changed as the Rechlicz-Carroll-King line was on the ice.  Carroll and Wrecker went off...King stayed on. 

Obviously I am not on the bench (or near it to be honest) so I am not 100% certain that he isn't being told to stay out...but somehow I strongly doubt it.  It appears that King is of the mindset that he should be getting more minutes in Hershey as well and it is costing the Bears opportunities and games.

Up until this point injuries and recalls (Cody Eakin remains in does Dmitry Orlov) have forced the Bears to play guys they typically don't give regular minutes too.  With the return of Potulny and Ford tonight the Bears finally have enough healthy bodies where they don't have to do that. 

King is an enforcer...just like Rechlicz.  Except Joel has been the better player in that role this season in games with and without King.  If an enforcer is used I hope it is Wrecker with DJ King sitting up in the rafters. 

Either way it is likely that, at the most, only one of the two will be on the ice at Giant Center tonight.  Which is good news for the Bears and bad news for the Bruins.


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