After 73 games the Bears are an unspectacular 34-30-3-6 (77 points). Some might classify that as being above .500, but to me they are actually 34-39 since the last 2 numbers are still losses, they just come at a different time.
But all of that is meaningless right now.
3 games. Win those 3 games and chances are pretty solid that the Bears would make the playoffs.
Lose 1 and chances are they are done.
Really is quite that simple.
Let's see what Hershey needs to do to pass each team ahead of them in the standings that hasn't clinched a playoff spot.
Portland Pirates - 6th place - 83 points - 34 ROW - 3 games to play
Hershey can't pass them. The first tiebreaker, whether it be 2 or 3 teams is number of wins minus shootout wins...or Regulation Wins + Overtime Wins (ROW). Hershey currently has 30 ROW. If they won all 3 games in regulation they would have 83 points, which is good enough to tie Portland, but only 33 ROW.
Norfolk Admirals - 7th place - 79 points - 30 ROW - 3 games to play
This is the most complicated of the scenarios. Norfolk has to lose at least one game. If they lose 1 and Hershey wins all 3 the teams would be tied with 83 points. But, assuming Hershey wins their games in regulation or overtime, the Bears would finish with more ROW.
If Norfolk doesn't lose (they play at Syracuse, at Albany, and at Providence) then Hershey can't pass them. And if they lose twice, Hershey only has to win 2 to tie them.
Connecticut Whale - 8th place - 79 points - 33 ROW - 2 games to play
Because they only have 2 games to play this seems like the Bears best bet to make the playoffs. But I think Norfolk is the more likely chance. IF Connecticut wins their last 2 and Hershey wins their 3 then the teams would be tied. BUT, unless the Whale wins both of their games in a shootout, Hershey can't even tie them in ROW. Meaning that Connecticut would be in the playoffs and Hershey wouldn't.
The Whale plays Friday at Albany and Saturday at Portland. Both tough, yet winnable games. If Hershey hopes to pass the Whale then Connecticut has to lose at least 1.
Manchester Monarchs - 9th place - 77 points - 33 ROW - 3 games to play
Obviously beating the Monarchs in the standings is only the first step to the playoffs since that would only get the Bears to 9th, but it is still a team that stands between Hershey and the postseason.
Luckily, the Bears and Monarchs play Sunday evening at Giant Center. And it could mean everything...or nothing.
Let's assume that Manchester wins at Binghamton and at Wilkes-Barre on Friday and Saturday night. And let's assume that Hershey beats Adirondack and Binghamton in their Friday/Saturday road trip. That would leave both Hershey and Manchester with 81 points heading into Sunday.
NOW, let's assume that Norfolk loses Friday (very possible)...then the winner of the Bears/Monarchs game would likely get the 8 seed while the loser goes home.
There is a chance that both teams could get into the playoffs but that is complicated and brings in lots of what-ifs.
The easiest path to the playoffs for Hershey is through Norfolk. The Admirals have 2 very tough games this weekend, at Syracuse and at Providence. If they lose one (or both) the Bears chances get much better.
Connecticut's weekend games are both easier and they would hold the tiebreaker over Hershey.
No matter what the uncertainty heading into the weekend, there is one thing no one can dispute.
The Bears have to win to get in. Another 2 points out of 6 weekend will not be enough. They still have a chance, and a damn good one, but they have to show up in each and every game in this final 3 in 3 weekend of the season.
Can they do it? We shall see.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!!