Yesterday I talked about the goalie issues surrounding this team right now which are obviously making it hard for this team to win on a consistent basis.
Even with that being considered though the Bears are in decent shape. Remember...I said DECENT.
The Situation: Hershey currently sits in 8th position in the Eastern Conference...a playoff spot.
The Good News: They are only 4 points back from 1st in the division and only 5 points back from the top spot in the Conference.
The Bad News: They are only 7 points from being in dead last in the division/conference.
This weekend is a good chance to start moving up and stop the downward slide they have found themselves in since their first 3 in 3. They had managed 11 points in 7 games heading into their first 3 in 3 of the season. Since then they have lost 9 games and won 4, earning 12 of a possible 26 points.
Tonight they visit Syracuse...a team below them in the standings. A team they destroyed 7-0 back in October and a team they took to a shootout just a couple weeks ago. This is a game the Bears SHOULD win.
Tomorrow night they welcome Portland...a team below them in the standings. A team that is playing very well right now. They have collected at least a point in 7 straight games and have won 6 of them. This is a game that teams with Calder Cup aspirations SHOULD win.
Sunday they visit Bridgeport (at 3 in the freaking afternoon)...a team directly ahead of them in the standings. A team that has only one twice in their last 6 games. A team that only has a 5-4-2-0 record on home ice. This is a game the Bears SHOULD get a point in. (seriously...traveling 4 hours after a 7:00 game for a 3:00 game on the back end of a 3 in 3...getting a point would be a win)
So at the end of the weekend the Bears should be sitting with at least 28 points and in a better position then they entered it.
We shall see.
If you are watching, listening, or attending the games this weekend here are some names to keep in mind. (oh and the Bridgeport game will be on TV if you get the channels...I do not).
For the Connecticut game this past week Matt Ford took Boyd Kane's place on the top line and I was excited to see how it would work out going forward. Well, Kane is back on the top line and Ford is back to the second line.
Graham Mink was moved to the 3rd line in an attempt to balance out the scoring from the top two lines. I like the shuffling and the trying to get more offense but I think the wrong guys are being moved. But I will wait until after the weekend to pass too much judgement.
Keith Aucoin has 9 assists...9!...in his last 4 games. Nice.
Chris Bourque has a point in 8 straight games, collecting 5 goals and 9 assists in those contests.
The player I am most looking forward to seeing is Matt Pope. He was brought back on his pro tryout after Sjogren took his ball and went back to Sweden. Down in South Carolina he has 7 goals and 12 assists in 15 games...he should be able to produce something in Hershey if given the opportunity.
And of course there are the goalies, which I discussed yesterday. Dany Sabourin is expected to get the start tonight, Braden Holtby tomorrow, and then Sunday's starter is TBD but I would suspect Sabourin considering the travel scenario.
Kyle Palmeiri (12-6-18) and Patrick Maroon (8-11-19) are the leading scorers for the Crunch.
Nick Bonino has a 5 game point streak in which he has 3 goals and 4 assists.
Rookie Peter Holland has 2 goals and 4 assists in his last 3 games.
Jean-Francois Jacques has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 3 games.
Dean Arsene will make his triumphant return to Giant Center on Saturday night. This will be Deano's first game back in Hershey since departing after the 2008-09 season. It will be good to see him and I am sure the crowd will show their appreciation during introductions.
Andy Miele is the AHL's top rookie for November and team leading scorer with 7 goals and 13 assists on the season. In November he had 4g and 9a in only 10 games. 2 goals and 3 assists have come in his last 2 games.
Matt Watkins has 3 goals and 4 assists in his last 4 games.
Tim Wallace is the team leader in points (9-9-18) and had all 9 of his goals during the month of November...including 5 goals in his last 5 games.
Rookie Scott Howes has only played in 4 games for the Sound Tigers but he has 3 goals and an assist in those games.
Enjoy the games...
LET'S GO BEARS!!!!