17 April, 2014

Bruce Boudreau's Revival

Hershey vs. HamiltonImmediately after Hershey’s 4-2 win over Hamilton Saturday night, evening the Calder finals at a game apiece, Bears’ coach Bruce Boudreau was asked if he was going to pursue a union membership card, as he’d worked so hard to overhaul his team in short order.
It was a remarkable transformation. Gone were were the passive PKers of Friday night, replaced by an in-your-face crew that constantly pressured Bulldogs on the puck. Gone, too, was Friday’s resignation to perimeter play, making life easy for Hamilton netminder Carey Price. Instead Boudreau’s Bears played the role of most inhospitable hosts, crashing Carey Price’s cage on virtually every shift, and defending Freddie Cassivi’s with vigor and venom.
Gone was Friday night’s Sunday morning chapel sound at Giant Center, replaced by a roof-raising revival of raucous believers. And gone, too, is any sense that the Bears would quietly and quickly surrender their champion’s status.
More than an hour before the game, Bears Louis Robataille and Mike Green casually flung pucks back and forth to one another out on the ice in their flip flops, smiling as boys at games do when little in the world seems at stake. But after Friday night’s thrashing, and the specter of falling in an 0-2 hole to a team renowned for its road work, and the series next heading to Hamilton for three straight, how could these beleaguered Bears goof off? Call it a champion’s swagger, call it the confidence associated with finishing as the best team during the regular season, but these Bears Saturday night quickly and convincingly demonstrated their ability to dust themselves off from defeat and return to the business of reclaiming their Calder Cup.
“This is gonna be a hell of a series,” Boudreau claimed after the game.
In a thorough reversal of roles, the 0-for-9 power play collar was worn by Hamilton Saturday night. And Hershey found some success on its power play, potting two tallies and moving the puck with confidence and authority on numerous other manpower advantages.
But at even strength the Bears dictated the game’s pace as well. Hamilton coach Don Lever acknowledged the ferocity of Hershey’s effort. “That was a desperate hockey team out there,” he said. “That’s why they’re the best in the league.”
“That’s the hardest we’ve been forechecked all year . . . [and] it wasn’t just one guy finishing checks, all their guys finished their checks.”
The gospel according to Boudreau Saturday night called for his flock to put a laying of the non-healing hands (and sticks) on Hamilton Bulldogs at every turn. Two thunderous Bears’ checks along the Hamilton endboards led directly to two Hershey tallies.
The daunting reality ahead for Boudreau and his team is that with their best effort Saturday, they remained in a tight affair in a must-win game. “We had to play our butts off,” he admitted in the post-game press conference. “We were a lot more determined. I hope we can go better, but I don’t know if we can.”
The seemingly lone commonality from Friday to Saturday was a heavy workload for Carey Price. He’s faced 86 shots through two games. Lever largely dismissed the stat as carrying little meaning in light of so many Bears’ shots coming from the perimeter, but as the series heads into high-stakes showdowns, does he really want his 19-year-old rookie netminder seeing that much rubber? Going forward, you have to think Price is also going to see a lot more Hershey Bears camping out in front of and charging at his crease.

One Comment

  1. Caps Nut wrote:

    I think the better question is how many sticks did Bordreau break in the locker room after the game.

    4 June, 2007 at 2:22 pm | Permalink