The Hershey Bears return home to Giant Center for two games this weekend, facing the Binghamton Senators and Springfield Falcons. Hershey recently finished off a brutal month of February, posting a record of 4-7-0-2. The Bears have dropped five games in a row, and have earned only three points in their last eight games. Hershey currently sits in third place in the East division, ten points behind their division rival Norfolk Admirals. Winning the division is now a long shot, but gaining a good seed heading into the playoffs is crucial.
3/3/12 Hershey Bears (29-19-4-5, 67 points) vs. Binghamton Senators (22-30-2-2, 48 points)
Binghamton enters this game with the worst record in the American Hockey League and not much to play for. The Senators are led offensively by forwards Rob Klinkhammer and Mike Hoffman, with 41 and 39 points respectively. Binghamton recently acquired heralded goalie prospect, Ben Bishop from the St. Louis Blues. Bishop has appeared in one game thus far for the Senators, allowing only one goal along with 41 saves in his first win with his new team. Hershey must avoid another slow start and must come out with some jump in their step to avoid a poor effort.
3/4/12 Hershey Bears (29-19-4-5, 67 points) vs. Springfield Falcons (27-25-2-2, 58 points)
Springfield comes into Giant Center in the middle of a big-time playoff race in the Eastern Conference. The Falcons currently stand 10th in the Eastern Conference, only two points behind the 8th seed, Albany Devils. This contest marks the return of former Bears all-star forward, Alexandre Giroux. Giroux played four seasons in Chocolate town, hitting the 90 point plateau twice. Martin St. Pierre leads the falcons in scoring with 50 points on the season, his first season with Springfield. St. Pierre is currently placed 11th in scoring in the AHL, 27 points behind Bears all-star forward Chris Bourque. Journeyman, Manny Legace receives the majority of the starts in goal for the Falcons, posting a subpar 2.74 goals against average. Hershey must halt Springfield’s high powered offensive attack and match their intensity to finish off this two game home stand in Hershey.
This weekend cannot be more important for Hershey, as four points could put them back in contention for a late run at the division crown. Most importantly the Bears need to match the intensity of the opposition early, which they have not been able to do of late. I expect four points from the Bears during this two game home stretch, as the players surely feel the same way.