Monday, April 8, 2013

2 out of 6 ain't good

Apparently the 2012-13 version of the Hershey Bears is determined to make sure we get to see meaningful hockey games until the very last game of the regular season.  After earning a paltry 2 points out of a possible 6 the Bears now find themselves in a 'must win' situation every single night.

Friday night started out well with Hershey picking up a 4-1 win over Syracuse.  They followed that up with a 2-1 loss on home ice to the same undermanned Crunch team on Saturday night.  And then they gave the Baby Pens 4 straight goals Sunday afternoon before making a game of it late, falling 4-3. 

Not good.  Simple as that. 

A look at the AHL standings today shows that this is pretty much a 2 horse race now.  Wilkes-Barre and Portland are all but out of the equation with 84 and 81 points, respectively.  Connecticut, and the 7th spot, is still technically within reach, but even that is looking bleak. 

The Bears have 75 points.  So do the Norfolk Admirals.  Both teams have played 70 games. 

Hershey owns the tiebreaker...apparently.  (Not sure what that tiebreaker is, but it might be ROW - regulation + overtime wins...or...wins - shootout wins.  In which case Hershey has 29 ROW and Norfolk has 28.)

The only good news on the weekend was that the teams trailing Hershey, with the exception of Norfolk, all fell even further behind.  Manchester, Bridgeport, and Albany are all sitting with 71 points and 70 games played.  Translation...they need lots of help from BOTH Hershey and Norfolk.

Hershey tried to help them all this past weekend, but they were unable to capitalize. 

So, as I's a two horse race between the Bears and Norfolk.

And Hershey has no room for error anymore.  Which is a problem considering that 5 of their last 6 games are on the road. 

Away from Giant Center this season the Bears are actually a respectable 16-13-0-4 compared to just 17-15-3-2 at home.  One could make the argument, looking at the records, that the Bears are actually better on the road then at home. 

Offensively you would still be right too.  On the season, the Bears have scored 2.8 goals per game on the road and only 2.5 at home.  Defensively then its about a wash with 2.8 goals per game allowed and 2.4 at home. 

So things aren't too bad...right?

Well...let's see...
  • Since January 1 the Bears have played 19 road games.  They are 7-8-0-4 in those.  Not terrible.
  • Since February 1 the Bears have played 15 road games.  They are 5-7-0-3 since Feb 1.  Eh...worse, but still not terrible.
  • Since March 2 the Bears have played 8 road games.  They are 2-5-0-1 in those.  There it is...terrible. gets worse:

In those 8 games since March 2 the Bears have scored 2.8 goals per game.  Excellent...right on target.  They have allowed...3.6 goals per game.  And that includes the 2 wins when they gave up a total of 2 games.  In their 6 losses (yes a shootout loss is still a loss) they have allowed an very very bad 4.5 goals per game.

Now, that schedule again...5 of 6 on the road. 


Well, maybe the teams they are playing aren't that good on home ice.  Hmmm, let's see...
  • Providence, Friday's opponent, is 22-9-0-3.  Ouch, that's a good record. 
  • Manchester, Saturday's host, is 16-14-2-3.  Eh, things are looking better for Hershey.
  • Portland, Sunday's opponent, is 22-10-2-1.  And it's shitty again.
  • Adirondack, next Friday, is 16-14-1-2.  Not terrible for Hershey.
  • Binghamton, next Saturday, is 23-8-1-3.  DAMN.
Ok.  Now, does that mean the Bears can't or won't make the playoffs.  No, I refuse to believe that.  I look at this team and see talent.  Maybe I am the only one, but I think the team that Yingst has assembled can win against most teams in this league. 

So just cause the road ahead looks bad, I still think Hershey can win all 6 of their remaining games and make it in and then go on a run and win a Cup.  That's what I will think and root for until they prove me wrong (which they are currently working on).

Alright.  Enough doom and gloom.  How about some good news.

The Norfolk Admirals finish the season with 6 straight road games.  And they are NOT a good road team.  They are 13-17-1-1 on the road this year and average 2.2 goals per game while allowing 3 goals per game. 

They do have an easier slate of games, but it won't be easy for them to make a run. 

The Bears have a 6 game season, starting on Friday night in Providence.  Hershey just beat Providence on March 30, in come from behind fashion, so they can beat them.  If they want to make the playoffs they must.

Having a week to actually practice with their new additions (Michael Latta met the team in Syracuse Friday morning and has had nothing more than pregame walk-throughs as a member of the Bears) will surely be an addition. 

Personally I thought Latta looked good.  He doesn't seem like the fastest guy, but he actually won faceoffs (interesting concept that the rest of the guys should try), showed some offensive creativity and vision, and definitely has no problem hitting people.  He looked a little lost in the defensive end at times...but again, he just met the team on Friday. 

Dane Byers looked pretty good as well.  And Joel Rechlicz, well, Joel did what he does just fine.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him listed as a healthy scratch for many of the remaining games.  He isn't going to help the team offensively and isn't necessary on they physical side with Latta, Byers, and Wellar getting regular minutes.  I like Joel, love the enthusiasm, but the Bears need goals right now.

At the very least the Bears will make this interesting down to the final weekend.  And hey, they finally got me to start posting regularly again...that's something, right?


Dani Park said...

Good post. Bears are not out of it and they've shown they can win too. They've come back and won and they've played tough games. But they've also played some pretty poor games as well and shown 0 life on the ice. Rechlicz yes he did what he can do and that's win a fight. The guy has the potential for more, he is a good and fast skater but he doesn't ever have the puck which is why he get's 2mins on the ice and the rest either in the box or on the bench. I really would like to see him play more of overall player rather than that spark of energy.

richard said...

Is this not the most frustrating team in Bear history. they can look so good then they shut it down for such long stretches. Either in person or on AHL Live, I think i've only missed seeing 3 games this year(stupid breakdowns on AHL Live).friday versus Syracuse was one of the few times I knew they were going to win when tied in the 2nd period. They played so crisply,it was fun to watch. But Sat and Sun the OTHER BEAR team showed up. They just can not seem to put any momentum together. I have never figured this team out,but I guess Yingst and more importantly French have not either.

Anonymous said...

I think you're overestimating the talent on the Bears. Defensively they're not great although getting Orlov and an improved Kundratek is definitely helpful. Schilling is overrated, Stafford was awful, the rest of the D are so-so. Flemming should actually crack this lineup. Glad to see Wellar back in there. Stupid move to let Engelland go back when..
and the first line is not great either. 2 good lines, 2 avg lines, and a D that is revamped (thank goodness) but still not championship calibre

GM said...

I disagree with you Anonymous. But as I have said before...I am a glass half-full kind of guy.

The defense might not be premier but they are solid and a strength on this team. And I actually don't think having Wellar back is a good thing. He is slow and limited in what he can do.

The problem is, some people seem to think that the defenses job is to play the body and intimidate...much like Amadio did and Wellar does. There is a role for that, but I would rather have puck moving defenseman that aren't afraid to hit from time to time. Julien Brouillette is a perfect example. He is routinely in position and makes the smart play and hits when the situation presents itself, but he isn't chasing the contact. Is he as talented as some Will he make the NHL...unlikely. But he is still solid.

And I like Schilling. Again, he isn't going to light anyone up with a huge hit, but he is a solid prospect still playing in his 1st pro season...mistakes are going to happen.

The defenseman Hershey fans like are stay at home, hit you when you enter the zone types. And for the past couple of years that hasn't been the recipe. Is it needed? Sure, to an extent. But I think some of the Hershey guys do their part.

Does that mean they play perfect every game...hell no. They left a Crunch player wide open in the slot last Saturday night.

But I blame that less on them then the coaching staff. It is impossible to prove, but I would bet money that if Woods or Boudreau were coaching this team, they would have locked up their playoff spot weeks ago.

As for offense...there is talent there. Much of that has arrived throughout the season, so getting a familiarity down has been tough. But there is talent.

But then again, I said at the beginning of the year (and last year) that they didn't have a go-to scorer that would shoot no matter the situation and carry the team in close games. Giroux was the last one in Hershey.

Is the team perfect? No. The defense is a little light, the offense is a little old and slow. But the coaching, I believe, is the biggest problem. The staff isn't getting the most out of this team.