Lots of different topics to discuss this week...a look at the standings, 2 games to play midweek, injuries, Aucoin's return, and a little NHL trade deadline talk.
Bears Sit in 3rd (or 5th depending on your preference)
The Bears were looking to make up some ground in the division this past weekend. With 3 points in 3 games they failed to do that.
As of this morning the Bears sit in 3rd place in the division, 2 points out of 1st (and 2nd). They are also the 5th seed in the conference and would face Norfolk in the 1st round.
The good news...the Bears have a game in hand. The bad news...even if they win that extra game they would remain in third based on number of wins.
The Bears playoff positioning is going to come down to how they play outside of the division. Only 7 of their remaining 23 games are against teams in the division. And only 3 of those are against the teams ahead of them (1 against the Pens, and 2 - this weekend and next week - against Norfolk).
That isn't exactly how you want to finish the season either. In my eyes you would much rather play your division rivals at the end of the season.
In addition, the Bears are better within the division. Against the East Division the Bears are 18-7-2-2. Against the Northeast and Atlantic, the Bears are a combined 8-7-2-3. Over 50% of the remaining games are against teams from those divisions. The Bears need to figure out how to beat them...quickly.
Two Mid-Week Games
First though the Bears will travel a little north and barely west for a couple games against Western Conference teams.
Tonight the Bears are in Rochester to take on the Americans before heading to Cleveland for a matchup against the Lake Erie Monsters tomorrow night.
Both teams reside in the North Division and currently sit in 2nd and 3rd in the division. The Amerks have 55 points while the Monsters have 56. Neither team is playing especially well or bad of late. The Amerks are 1-3 in their last 4 and 2-4 in their last 6 but in those 2 wins they scored a combined 15 goals. The Monsters are 1-2 in their last 3 but that comes on the heels of a 4 game winning streak.
This is the 2nd (and final) meeting with both teams for the Bears. They beat the Amerks in a shootout in January, but lost to the Monsters just after Thanksgiving.
4 points would be very helpful.
On Saturday night Christian Hanson was cut on the wrist by the skate of a falling Monarchs player. At the time it wasn't thought to be serious but word came down yesterday that a tendon was torn in that wrist and surgery is required.
There is no precise timetable for his return, but he is officially listed as week to week. Which more than likely means about a month.
Aucoin is Back
The loss of Christian would hve been more significant if Keith Aucoin was still in Washington. But he isn't. He was returned to Hershey on Sunday and will be on the ice tonight and tomorrow...barring another recall obviously.
When Coiner was recalled by the Caps he was leading the AHL in points with 70. He had just finished a January in which he collected 3 goals and 14 assists in just 10 games. He was on pace to shatter the AHL regular season assists record (89 is the record) and to challenge the Bears single season mark.
Obviously Coiner wouldn't trade his time with the Caps for anything and we are all happy for him. But it would have been cool to see him make a run at those marks.
Coiner missed 9 games. He is now 2nd in the league in scoring behind teammate Chris Bourque (72 points) and is still 6 points ahead of T.J. Hensick in 3rd.
As for the records. Coiner would have to absolutely destroy the league to have any shot at the Bears season record for points. He is on pace for 107 points which would leave him about 20 short of the record. Probably not going to happen.
Assists are a different story. His record setting pace pre-callup was so impressive that he is STILL on pace to break the record. If he continues on the same pre-callup pace he would finish with 91 assists...2 more than the 89 record.
NHL Trade Deadline
The Caps suck right now. Simple as that. People can blame the injury to Nicholas Backstrom all they want but the fact is this team is not playing as a team right now.
I can understand the Caps being 'buyers' at the deadline as they are only 2 points out of the playoffs as of today. But a 5-0 loss to the Hurricanes on Monday when you are within range of the playoffs tells you everything you need to know about this team right now.
Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post thinks very similarly and says that the Caps should strongly consider being 'sellers' at the deadline.
The effects on the Bears could be interesting.
If the Caps are buyers I don't see a large effect on Hershey as their aren't a ton of desirable prospects currently on the roster. Braden Holtby might be the biggest loss for the Bears...which would be huge, but with Dany Sabourin also in town it wouldn't be insurmountable.
If the Caps are sellers though I think all of that could change. Cody Eakin would likely spend the rest of the season in Washington and some other guys might get looks as well since the Caps would be trying for young prospects and draft picks.
Tarik mentions Semin, Green, Wideman, and Knuble as possible pieces on the move. That could mean that Patrick McNeill and Tomas Kundratek could spend time in Washington along with Eakin.
Pay attention to the moves...it could get interesting.