Monday, November 10, 2014

Bears Hang Tough Despite Loss

Some overarching issues from this past weekend's games can be seen as insufficient passing and problematic breakouts, thus leading to a multitude of turnovers. But despite being mostly outplayed and outshot in all three games, the Bears were able to hang around in them all and accrue 3 out of a possible 6 points.

The loss to the Hartford Wolf Pack on Sunday 3-2 wasn't as disappointing as Friday night's game and Sunday appeared to be the Bears' better overall, albeit subdued, effort even though they were outshot 13-2 in the first period. Down 3-2 late in the third period Hershey pushed hard, with even a 6-on-4 in the final minute, to try and tie the game. But these late in the game heroics didn't work like in Saturday night's game.

In Tim Leone's "Morning Takeaways" blog post, Coach Troy Mann referred to Sunday's game as a "trap game" since the Bears were playing 3 in 3 while Hartford only had the two games in Hershey. Granted, the extra game should be taken into consideration but there seems to be larger trends at play here.

The main characteristic of all three games has been that the Bears are not playing a full 60 minutes. In each game the Bears struggled in at least 2 if not all 3 periods. For all three games combined, Hershey was outshot in five of the nine periods (the overtime wasn't included since it only lasted a minute). In addition, the Bears were 1 for 12 on the power play with six of them coming in the third game. If there was any time where the power play needed to succeed it was Sunday.

Considering all that, the Bears were still able to hang around in all three games with each being tied 2-2 at some point in the third periods. The forwards and defense should thank both Philip Grubauer and Pheonix Copley for keeping the team competitive as they had to come up with some big saves to keep the games close. Grubauer was especially the Bears' best player.

The question is how Troy Mann is going to get things turned around. It's not like the Bears are facing adversity with injuries and/or call-ups. Passing and the cycle game has to get back to the way it was at the start of the season. The Bears had been dominate in their cycle game in the opponent's zone and this generated a lot of their offense.

And as mentioned previously, the power play has to start clicking again. Through the first 6 games, the power play was 7 for 34. Since then in the next 7 games (including Sunday night), it has been 2 for 24. The passing on the power play has been good but there needs to be more player movement and shots.

Or perhaps the overall play of this past weekend has been just an aberration that is typically seen at the end of a long road trip. It's a good thing that in the last 8 games in November, 6 of them are at Giant Center.

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