Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bears face elimination

A lot of times in sports you see teams fighting for the playoffs make unexpected runs in the postseason after barely getting into the playoffs.  Generally, you always hear the team say its because they have basically been playing in playoff like games for a while, just to get into the playoffs.

And it makes sense.

But none of the teams currently still alive for a playoff spot in the AHL's Eastern Conference can make that claim.  The Bears have gone a combined 3-5-0-0 in their last eight, winning one out of three the past two weekends and only one so far this one.

Last night Hershey actually could have clinched a playoff spot by winning.  Instead they dropped a 4-2 game to the 4th place Binghamton Senators.

Fortunately for the Bears neither of the other teams want in either.  Connecticut entered the weekend with 2 games and owning the main tiebreaker over both Norfolk and Hershey.  As it turns out they only needed one win.  Instead they lost both to go along with the previous 4.  6 straight loses have come after an 8-2 run.

But they still have a shot.  If both Hershey and Norfolk lose today...the Whale get the 8 seed.

Norfolk was playing some good hockey until this weekend.  They had won 8 of 10 entering last Sunday's game against Providence and looked to be the team to beat amongst the 4 teams fighting for two spots entering the weekend.

Back to back loses to Syracuse and Albany, and just 1 goal scored in the two games, leaves them in a world of hurt as they make the trip to Providence to play the AHL's best and hottest team as they have locked up the #1 overall seed and have won 8 straight games.

Norfolk can still get it in with a win and a Hershey loss or an overtime/shootout loss accompanied by a Bears regulation loss.

Now we come to our Hershey Bears.

It's quite simple really.  Win and your in, lose and your done.  The only way the Bears can lose and get in is if its in overtime or a shootout and even then they would need Norfolk to lose too.

The good news here is that Hershey doesn't NEED help.  If they take care of business against a surging Manchester team they will be playing next weekend.

As a player it has to be nice to have something so cut and dry.  Done.

The bad news is the Bears get Manchester.  I mean, it could be worse, they could be playing Providence, but the Monarchs are the AHL's second hottest team having won 6 in a row.  That includes a 4-3 win over Hershey last Saturday night.

The Bears and Monarchs have played 3 times so far with the Monarchs winning 2, both in Manchester.  The lone Hershey win was back in February at Giant Center by a score of 2-1.

On March 23 the Bears jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 25 minutes only to see the Monarchs score 5 straight in the next 30 minutes of play before finishing up at 6-4. 

Last Saturday looked like it might go the other way as the Bears let Manchester jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first 10 minutes before scoring a couple in the second on their way to a 4-3 loss.

If the Bears can manage to win their 36th game of the season, they will make the playoffs.

If they can't, then they will have finished the season on a 3-6 stretch that saw 3 consecutive 1-2 weekends.

Not the way I would want it to end, that's for sure.

It's going to be a sold out Giant Center tonight and is surely going to be loud.  Norfolk plays at 3 so before the 2nd period Hershey should at least know that outcome, but it really doesn't matter.

Without a win, the Bears are likely done.


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