Our friend der Eishockeyzuschauer has been doing a great job providing us with hockey analysis and opponent previews for each and every home game–and some away games–this season. He’s not worried about Zamboni speeds or holiday shopping or cold chicken tenders. He’s worried about hockey. That was why I was somewhat surprised to find today’s preview not in my inbox as per usual, but parked outside my front door. That’s right, he wrote the entire thing on a whiteboard. In German. Or, Swiss–I couldn’t tell. But through the magic of computers, I was able to transcribe it for you here. HOCKEY NIGHT post will follow shortly–and I’ll see you at the arena tonight, @Kram209
“Hershey Bears Scouting”
While our Hamilton Street Heroes spent the week preparing for the second half of this particular home-and-home set with the intra-state rival Hershey Bears, the 11-time Calder Cup champions, for their part, made a quick trip up to Connecticut and dispatched the previously high-flying Bridgeport Sound Tigers 4-2 in a late morning / early afternoon tilt on Wednesday.It is interesting to note that, after winning their first five games on the trot, the Sound Tigers have managed to win just two of their last six games and, significantly, have no victories in regulation time to show from those last half dozen contests. Hershey, on the other hand, have been showing noticeable signs of improvement most recently after getting off to a rather sluggish start. The Bears, to review, have two wins from their last three games with the only ‘loss’ coming via Sunday’s shootout against those whiteboarding Lehigh ValleyPhantoms..Hershey have been on something of a scoring tear in their last three AHL games. After scoring five goals against the Springfield Falcons in their season-opener, the Bears managed to score only 11 goals in their next six contests for an average of less than two per game. Since then, however, the brown team from central Pennsylvania has netted four goals in each of its last three engagements..Hershey left wing Paul Carey (10 ga, 4 go, 8 pts, 2 pen, + 5 def) led the way on Wednesday by scoring two goals against Bridgeport, including the game-winner with roughly five and a half minutes to play in regulation. The 26-year-old veteran out of Boston College also had a game-winner in the third period for the Bears last Saturday against the visiting St. John’s IceCaps, as well, and now counts three goals and an assist from his last three AHL games. Carey, who has skated in 22 NHL games for the Colorado Avalanche thus far in his career, was signed to a free agent contract by the Washington Capitals organization this summer after dividing most of his time last season between the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters and Providence Bruins (60 ga, 15 go, 34 pts, 26 pen, – 3 def), is expected to be one of the Bears’ top producers this season..Hershey have certainly been getting quality production from star right wing Chris Bourque (10 ga, 3 go, 11 pts, 2 pen, + 5 def) as of late. The typically high-scoring 29-year-old veteran from Boston University has totaled one goal and five points in his last three AHL games and currently leads the Bears in scoring. As well Bourque probably should considering he has a contract with the Washington Capitals organization that pays $ 373,000 for AHL service, a very high salary for the minor league side of a two-way deal..The more experienced pair of Carey and Bourque do seem to have had more scoring punch ever since being placed together on the top line with rookie Travis Boyd (10 ga, 1 go, 6 pts, 2 pen, + 1 def), the 20-year-old from the University of Minnesota who was the 6th round pick of the Washington Capitals at the 2011 NHL Draft..The Hershey Bears received some very bad news with the report that injured center Jakub Vrana (6 ga, 2 go, 6 pts, 2 pen, + 1 def) is expected to be out of action until late January / early February. Said Hershey head coach Troy Mann of the 19-year-old who was the 1st round pick (# 13 overall) of the Washington Capitals at the 2014 NHL Draft during the press conference updating the injury status, “next to Chris Bourque, I would say that he’s kind of the next game-breaker type of player … (on the Bears).” This also comes as a blow to the Czech Republic, who were hoping that Vrana would be allowed to compete at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championships; the skillful teenage center has already appeared at the annual WJC tournament for players under twenty years of age twice before in his career..One Hershey player who needs to step up his production is Carter Camper (10 ga, 1 go, 5 pts, 2 pen, + 4), yet another free agent from this past summer. The 27-year-old undrafted center out of Miami University in Ohio had 52 points in 75 AHL games (15 go, 16 pen, + 4 def) for the Binghamton Senators last season but has quite been able to keep that pace so far. In fact, Camper, who is decidedly undersized (5’9″ 176 lbs) went six straight games without a point before finally registering an assist in the mid-week win over Bridgeport..As pointed out in the scouting report prior to Sunday’s contest, Bears rookie Riley Barber (10 ga, 3 go, 6 pts, 2 pen, + 2 def) is another who has been struggling as of late. The 21-year-old right wing from Miami University of Ohio has now failed to find the back of the net in his last seven games after scoring three goals in the Hershey’s first three games of the season (including a two-goal effort in the opener against Springfield). Barber, who has been playing on the same line as Camper, does have three assists in his last seven games, it shall be noted..Connor Carrick, the puck-rushing defenseman who was the 5th round pick of the Washington Capitals at the 2011 NHL Draft, is yet another who needs to crank it up in earnest. The 21-year-old who was loaned by the Hershey Bears to the United States squad competing at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships two seasons ago, totaled 34 assists and 42 points in 73 AHL games (132 pen, – 8 def) for Hershey last term but has not gotten it in full gear. Carrick (10 ga, 2 go, 3 pts, 12 pen, + 2 def) can be very dangerous when in good form..Also having a good amount of success most recently is Christian Djoos (5 ga, 1 go, 3 pts, 2 pen, +4 def), who couldn’t get a regular place at the beginning. The 20-year-old rookie from Sweden who was the 7th round pick of the Washington Capitals at the 2012 NHL Draft was a healthy scratch in five of Hershey’s first seven AHL contests this season and might have been wondering why he ever left IF Brynas Gavle last spring. But Djoos has now been in the line-up the last three games consecutively while responding with one goal, two assists and a healthy + 4 plus/minus rating..The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are, perhaps, a bit lucky that the Hershey Bears have been faithfully rotating their two goaltenders and it is once again the turn of Dan Ellis (5 ga, 3.12 avg, .889 svpct) to start this Friday at the PPL Center in Allentown. The 35-year-old veteran signed as a free agent this summer after spending almost all of last season with the San Antonio Rampage (37 ga, 2.71 avg, .904 svpct) in the AHL’s Western Conference clearly just has not been as sharp as his younger counterpart. Justin Peters (5 ga, 1.79 avg, .935 avg), the 28-year-old who has a one-way contract with the Washington Capitals which pays $ 950,000 this season, is coming off of a 39-save effort in Wednesday’svictory over the Sound Tigers.————————————————————————————-One-time Lehigh Valley Phantoms fourth line forward Austin Fyten, who appeared against his old club this past Sunday, did not drop the gloves in the Hershey Bears’ shootout loss; the undrafted 24-year-old who skated in 64 AHL games (2 go, 11 pts, 85 pen, – 9 def) for the Phantoms last season has been a healthy scratch twice in four games since being recalled by the Bears from the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays late last week. Whether or not Fyten sees the ice at the PPL Center again (and lives up to his rather provocative name) has yet to be determined..Given the astonishing knockouts scored by Phantoms tough guys Tyrell Goulbourne and Derek Mathers in recent games on home ice, it is uncertain whether any Hershey players would want to have a go at the PPL Center on Friday night. In fact, the Bears have only had one fighting major in ten AHL games to start this season. Erik Burgdoerfer (6’2″ 215 lbs), the undrafted 26-year-old defenseman from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Liam O’Brien (6’1″ 210 lbs), the undrafted 21-year-old winger who skated in a baker’s dozen NHL games for the Washington Capitals last season, are the two biggest bodies the Hershey Bears have to offer. Indeed, it is O’Brien who has the brown team’s only five-minute fighting major so far this fall.