Over-regulation: Hershey pregame

We harp too often around here the past couple of years on overtimes and goal differential. We usually do it the day after the season. But this thing’s at the quarter pole right now, and what with 21 overtimes in 57 games (the team record is 26, 2009-10, after 24 in 2003-04; the league record is a twice-achieved 29), coupla things caught our eye.

It almost got memey for us two years ago, during Bridgeport’s exceptional year that ended just short of the playoffs, to point out how much overtime had propped up the Sound Tigers. Welp:

Charlotte 57 28 14 15 71
Hershey 54 23 20 11 57
Bridgeport 57 18 18 21 57
Providence 55 20 19 16 56
Springfield 56 20 23 13 53
Lehigh Valley   55   19  22  14  52 
Wilkes-Barre 54 17 22 15   49   
Hartford 56 17 25 14 48

These are the division standings at the start of play today if every game just ended after 60 minutes. (Our perpetual disclaimer: If the rules were different, teams might play differently, you can’t just go about changing rules midstream, don’t change horses midstream, Wag the Dog, etc.)

Bridgeport’s entire edge for second place vanishes; it’s a tiebreaker behind today’s streaking opponent, in fact. It’s amazing what 14 wins beyond regulation will do. The Bears themselves are 8-3 beyond regulation; four teams are right around .500, Hartford is 5-9, and Poor Springfield is 2-11.

But let’s add another couple of columns: regulation-time goals-for and goals-against.

Charlotte 57 28 14 15 71 174 152
Hershey 54 23 20 11 57 140 155
Bridgeport 57 18 18 21 57 169 171
Providence 55 20 19 16 56 163 145
Springfield 56 20 23 13 53 180 175
Lehigh Valley   55   19  22  14  52  170  167
Wilkes-Barre 54 17 22 15   49    164 156
Hartford 56 17 25 14 48 154 187

We are fond in this space of mumbling, or occasionally screaming, that goal differential is destiny. Well, not so much right now. Bridgeport has hovered around even overall for a good chunk of the year, and right now it’s below even in regulation time. (Minus-7 on special teams will do it.) Teams with positive goal differentials have, well, some negative results.

But look up a space: Holy CRO, Hershey. The Bears spent a lot of time getting beaten hard through the first half of the year, right up until their last regulation-time loss, 6-2 in Springfield on Jan. 11. They won 3-0 the next night at Allentown. This 17-game point streak includes one shootout loss, five shootout wins and one 1-0 overtime win. During a 17-game streak in which the Bears haven’t lost in regulation, they’ve outscored opponents 49-31 in regulation time.

Really. In 17 games without a loss, they’ve outscored their opponents by 18 goals during “real” hockey.

So the Bears, 10-0-7 in the past 17 (er, 16-0-0-1), meet the Sound Tigers, 3-2-6 (I mean 8-2-1-0) in February and 2-0-5 in the past seven (ahem 6-0-1-0), to cap off the month. The last time Hershey was here, the Bears won their fifth in a row. They’d lose in a shootout a couple of days later to Lehigh Valley, and, whatever, .500 team.

Eleven straight wins later… Here they come again.

I know, I know, you’re only here for the lines. All five healthy guys out yesterday are back in. Kieffer Bellows, Stephen Gionta, Scott Eansor, Connor Jones and apparently Yannick Rathgeb sit out today. ICYMI, Jeremy Smith signed an NHL deal this morning and, on NHL waivers, has to sit out today. Evan Buitenhuis backs up Christopher Gibson.

Smith is the only Islander on waivers today, so I believe the only guy up there right now who’d be eligible to come back to Bridgeport beyond the deadline (assuming they go through the procedure tomorrow at 3) is Devon Toews. (Well, and The Kid Who Won the Calder, but, well.)

F: St. Denis-Koivula-C.Bourque
Dal Colle – Stevens – Ho-Sang
Lorito-Fritz-Bernier (A)
R.Bourque-Kubiak-B.Holmstrom (C)
D: Aho-Burroughs
Helgeson (A)-Vande Sompel
G: Gibson

F: O’Brien-Sgarbossa (A)-Barber
Malenstyn-Pilon-Walker (A)
D: Ness-Lewington (A)
G: Vanecek

R: Faist, Gouin. L: Colby, E.Ernst.

This should be the box.

Bridgeport scratches (believed healthy unless noted): technically not Jeremy Smith because he’s technically not on the roster boy do I love technicalities, apparently Rathgeb, Bellows, Eansor, Gionta (veteran), Jones, Sislo (upper).

Michael Fornabaio