Sunday, April 8, 2012

Final Home Regular Season Game

The Hershey Bears will host the Connecticut Whale at 5:00pm tonight in the final regular season game at Giant Center in 2011-12.  There will be at least one home playoff game, but the final 3 regular season games are in New England.

This evening's game against the Whale could seal the Bears first round opponent.  If the Bears win, whether in regulation or after, the Bears would finish no worse than 5th in the Eastern Conference and would play the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the 5-game first round series.

Should the Bears lose, the Whale would be only four points back with 3 games to play.  As luck would have it the two teams play similar teams the rest of the way as well.  Both the Bears and Whale play Portland and Manchester.  But we will worry about that tomorrow....if necessary.

Unfortunately for the Bears the recent past has not been promising.  Four straight losses has followed a 7 game winning streak.

The scratches and lineup changes, announced before the opening faceoff, takes a little longer and is a who's who of AHL talent. 

And with the games becoming more physical as the playoffs grow near, that list is as likely to grow as it is to shrink.  Both Ryan Potulny and Boyd Kane departed games this weekend after big hits.  Both did return, but the game is taking its toll on guys.

If things weren't bad enough....there was this in the paper this morning:
French banished defenseman Kevin Marshall during the game. “It was a team-related matter,” French said.
That is from Tim Leone's write-up for the paper this morning.  I have no idea what happened, but when a respected beat-writer like Leone uses the word "banished" it definitely raises some eyebrows.  It will be interesting to see if Marshall has a jersey for tonight's game.

So, add disgruntled employee to the list of problems for the Bears at a critical moment in the season.

Dany Sabourin was expected to return to Hershey for the game tonight and will likely get the start.  The Capitals don't play until at least Wednesday so they don't need Dany there for the time being.

If Michal Neuvirth and Tomas Vokoun's injuries keep them out for an extended period it will be interesting to see how the goalies are handled between Washington and Hershey.  It isn't out of the question that Dany could just yo-yo between the teams if the schedules work out for that.

For example, if the Caps play Thursday-Saturday next weekend, Dany could play Friday and Sunday for the Bears.  Especially since the Caps will be in Boston for the first 2 games anyhow. 

That kind of rotation could continue for Dany if the Bears playoff schedule fits into the Caps schedule.  If the schedules don't work out you can be assured that Dany is Capitals property first and Bears second.  

More will be known later today I am sure.  Hopefully Neuvy or Vokoun can recover enough to at least serve as a backup which would allow Dany to return to Hershey full time.  I wouldn't expect both goalies to recover in time so the likelihood of Braden Holtby returning to Hershey is unlikely until the Caps are eliminated, if they would be.

Have a Happy Easter and enjoy the regular season home finale tonight!


No comments: