Overall the Bears went 4-5 during the span that stretched from November 16 through this past Saturday. Not exactly lighting the league on fire, but it sure as hell could have been worse.
On a positive note, the Bears went 3-1 in the last 4 and 3-2 since co-coach Adam Oates relinquished his position and returned to Washington.
There appeared to be positive signs heading into Saturday's home game against the East Division's cellar dwelling Norfolk Admirals. The Bears had just recorded their 2nd and 3rd highest shot totals of the season in wins over the same Admirals and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Things were looking up.
Then a familiar thing happened...the Bears forgot how to score.
The Bears have played 21 games this season. In 8 of those they have failed to score even 2 goals. Not surprisingly, they are 0-7-1-0 in those games. Therefore, simple math tells us that they are 9-4-0-0 when they score at least 2 goals.
That's the team we all want to see more often.
And I think we will.
When Oates left on Thanksgiving we all knew that an overnight change wouldn't happen. French would still have to make adjustments to Oates system and get everyone on the same page. Remember that the majority of this Bears team didn't play for French last year. They are still getting used to him and for the first 2 months of the season they had another guy in town calling (some of) the shots.
So French had, not counting Thanksgiving, 4 days to make the changes after Oates left. And that doesn't include the travel to and from Norfolk for last Wednesday's game.
And the players finished up a 9 in 16 and a 5 in 8 and were likely tired. Is that an excuse for giving up 5 goals and by all indications 'mailing-it-in' on home ice on Saturday? Of course not. But when your legs are tired and you have played so many games in so many days you are going to fall back into bad habits. So the changes French instituted, the ones that resulted in 14 goals scored in 3 games, were neglected.
This week the Bears have 4 days (Sunday through Wednesday) to just rest and practice before starting another grueling stretch of games. Beginning in Washington (special game against Norfolk) the Bears play 5 games in the next 7 days. Only 1 of which, this Saturday vs Hamilton, will be at home. The Bears will leave Norfolk and play the Baby Pens in Wilkes-Barre on Friday, return home for the Hamilton game, and then leave Monday (I suspect) for 2 games against St. John's on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
It's a tough stretch, but I think it will be a significant preview as to what we will see the rest of the season. I won't call it a 'must-win' set of games and I won't say that if they struggle it is time to hit the panic button, but we are getting close to that.
French will have had 4 days of practice to implement his changes, plus the 5 games and 4 days he had before this week. Obviously tweaks may continue, but I am guessing some substantial changes were made over this period of time and will be drilled into the players this week.
So, if you watch on Thursday (it's on ABC's digital channel for those in the Hershey area), I think you will see a team that more closely resembles the team that just won 3 straight, and not the one that just lost 5-1 on home ice.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!