Friday, February 17, 2012

Bears on the road this weekend

Tonight the Bears will play in Providence, Rhode Island.  Tomorrow they travel to Manchester, NH.  Sunday they complete the weekend in Bridgeport, CT.  After that game they will return to Hershey.

Except that is just the beginning of their journey over the next week.  This is the longest stretch of road games for the Bears this season (5) and due to the layout of the games the Bears will spend more than 1/7 of their next week on a bus. 

The first leg, this weekend, will take them from Hershey to all the cities I already mentioned.  That is 15 hours on a bus...according to mapquest anyways.

Then they come back to Hershey for about 3 days before leaving Wednesday (I assume, but they may leave Tuesday) for a trip to Rochester, NY to play that night.  Then Thursday they go to Cleveland to play again. 

And then they come home.

All combined it is 1750 miles and over 31 hours on a bus.  That means that about 18% of the teams next 7 days will be spent on a bus. 

That's a rough road trip.

Tonight the Bears get the Providence Bruins.  Currently the Bruins sit in last place in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference.  Tim Leone points out that they have been one of the better AHL teams over the past 10 games, going 6-2-2-0 in those games

Compare that to the Bears 4-5-0-1 in their last 10 and you might think the Bruins are playing better today.  Except that the Bruins are 1-3 in their last 4 games while the Bears are 3-0-0-1 in their last 4. 

In addition to that, the Bruins have scored a total of 8 goals in their last 4 games.  Which is bad enough.  But 6 of those goals came in one game.  The 3 losses in their last 4 have seen goal totals of 0, 1, and 1 by the Bruins. 

Although that shouldn't be entirely surprising considering they are currently ranked as the 30th team (out of 30) in the AHL in goals per game with only 2.33 per game. 

Hershey scores 3.60 per game.

A few other stats in the Bears favor tonight...
  • Providence is only 1-5 versus the East Division
  • Bruins are 28th in the league with the man advantage on home ice
  • Bruins are only 15th in the league on the penalty kill at home
  • The Bruins enter the game with a -13 scoring margin in the first period
  • And a -14 in the third period.
One thing the Bruins do have going for them...they are 2nd in the league in attendance per game with 7,321 per game.

That is second to the 2,352. 

Next up is the Manchester Monarchs.  These guys beat our Bears twice in two days back in January.  First there was a 5-4 win for them on Saturday the 21st.  Then they followed it up with a 4-2 win on Sunday the 22nd.

So Hershey should be looking for some retribution.

The Monarchs enter the game 2nd in the Atlantic and 6th in the Conference.  They are also 1-3 in their last 4 games (just like Providence) and have actually scored fewer goals in those 4 than the Bruins, only 7.  While allowing 14.

Again, that shouldn't be surprising as the Monarchs score only 2.6 per game.  And they don't do it on the power play at home as they are only 23rd in that category. 

What they do well is keep opposing power plays from scoring as they are currently 6th in the league on the penalty kill at home. 

Just in case you were wondering...Hershey is 1st in road power play.

While Providence weaknesses appear to be in the 1st and 3rd periods, the Monarchs are weak in the 2nd.  They carry a -16 scoring margin in the 2nd period on the season.  The Bears are +21 in the 2nd...their strongest period.  (Also a +17 in the first so that is good...and not too bad in the 3rd, -2).

Finally this weekend the Bears get the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.  The Tigers are probably the best team of the three this weekend...especially of late.

Yes the Bears beat them twice back in December.  Once in Hershey and once in Bridgeport.  But those games fell in a tough pattern for the Tigers as they were only 1-8 during a stretch there. 

Since that stretch ended though they are a very impressive 13-1-0-1.  Their two losses were to St. Johns and Manchester and impressively they have scored at least 5 goals in 4 of their last 6 games.  All wins of course.

The good news...both the losses took place on home ice.  If that helps you anyways.

Bridgeport is the best offensive team Hershey will see this weekend (7th in goals scored).  Their power play on home ice is weak, only 26th in the league, but the penalty kill at home is a solid 4th in the league.

Lucky for us this game will be on TV starting at 3:00 Sunday afternoon.

Enjoy the games.

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