Granted the Manchester Monarchs were a little sluggish after clinching their playoff berth the previous night and resting their leading scorer and starting goalie, but Hershey came out last night and dominated the game.
Boyd Kane, when talking about Providence, said this:
“They've got a really good team there. But I think with our team right now, if we play our game, I think we can hang with anybody.”I don't disagree with him one bit. If the Bears play the way they did in the 1st and 3rd periods last night they can hang with anyone.
If they play like they did the rest of the past couple weekends...well, that wouldn't be as good.
Hershey can hang their hat on the fact that they won 3 of their last 4 to get in.
And that's what's great about statistics. You can pick and choose and make them fit your argument. For example:
In their final 3 weekends the Bears went 4-5, including two weekends of 1-2 hockey when they were fighting for the playoffs.
One stat shows the good, the other shows the bad. Which one is a true indicator of where this team is right now...we don't know. That's why they play the game.
Coach French said this:
“The last two weeks have been emotionally like we've been in the playoffs. It's been up and down, but we finished on an up and get to participate in the playoffs.”Again, you can read that two ways.
The positive way: The Bears are ready to go after being in do-or-die games over the past couple of weekends. They are in playoff form mentally and will be ready to go next weekend.
Or the negative way: The Bears, while knowing they needed wins to get into the playoffs, went through two 1-2 weekends, including a 4 game losing streak.
As you can see, I am not sure which team to expect come Friday night in Providence. On one hand I am certain this team has the talent to win. I know there are lots of you who doubt this, but I think last night showed that when they want to and when they are focused on shooting the puck, this team can hang with anyone.
But on the other hand I question whether or not they have the mental toughness to keep on their game and play like they need to. They seem quick to bail on their fundamentals and 'system' when things go badly and can allow teams to dictate play.
Last night, despite playing very well for long stretches, they still experienced a couple instances where they were stuck in their own zone for multiple minutes. You do that with a shortened bench, which we will surely see in the playoffs, against teams as good as Providence and it won't be a long playoff schedule for the Bears.
Best part of the playoffs though...records are reset to 0 and nothing before that first game matters anymore. Hershey just finished their 76th game of the season and all it gave them was the chance they wanted all along...a shot to win the championship.
Can they do it?
I believe. Doesn't mean that I expect it, but I can assure you that I will be disappointed when it is over...unless it ends with a celebration in June.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!!