Amid some controversy, Washington Capitals rookie Andrew Burakovsky has been assigned to Hershey for at least this weekend before the Christmas break. Some see the move as a way for Burakovsky to get more optimum playing time and aid the Bears offensive woes. Others think this is just a step towards his assignment to the Swedish team for the WJC over the holiday break. Either way, the fans in Hershey will be happy on Saturday night and packing Giant Center to see the Caps/Bears newest prospect.
My question is why they didn't use Burakovsky on a line with Tim Kennedy. I realize Troy Mann wants to put him on a top line so he'll get a lot of playing time, but playing with the Newbury, Casey Wellman and Dane Byers doesn't seem to be the wisest choice. There's a reason Kennedy has the most assists on the team and is second in the league. Although Burakovsky did play with Galiev at times, to spark Burakvosky's scoring prowess he should really be playing with Kennedy.
Anyway, the Bears came out on Friday night firing on all cylinders against LeHigh Valley. That translated into the Bears outshooting the Phantoms 16 to 1 in the first period. Unfortunately, they didn't plan on Phantoms' goalie Anthony Stolarz giving an outstanding performance for his second shutout of the season.
Except for not scoring, Hershey's offense was as good if not better than the wins over Binghamton and Bridgeport on the 13th and 5th of the month, respectively. Their passing was crisp and got shots on Stolarz from different areas of the ice. While the Bears only received two power play chances, they made the most of the opportunities with plenty of point shots and passes to the slot from out of the corner.
At the end of the night Burakovsky and Wellman recorded 4 shots a piece while Galiev and Byers had each.
Regarding goaltending, I've always liked the comparison to baseball. No matter how good a team is playing, if you run into a hot pitcher there's nothing you can do about it. The same with goaltending. When a goalie is on, he's on. Of course, I prefer it when that goalie is Philip Grubauer.
Not taking anything away from him, though he faced 18 total shots Grubauer played just as strong in keeping the score 1-0. The Phantoms had two power plays in the third period and could have gone up 2-0. But Grubauer came up with some big saves to keep Hershey in it.