Three people gave three subtly different answers on what was different tonight from last night. Out-detailed. Outworked. Working smarter, not harder.
It was a lot of little things
“I think we can clean up some things for sure,” Matt Lorito said. “Structurally, I think we were” — and he paused to get the words right — “not as detailed as we normally are. When you play these back-to-back games, it’s not always your legs that are tired, your mind’s tired. You’ve got to make sure your habits are good. When we get away from that, you could see, they sort of started to take over the game a little bit.”
Shots were relatively even in the first, but the Bears’ felt more dangerous. Hershey built an edge in the second.
“I’d say we were tighter last night,” Sebastian Aho said. “Even though we were down 2-0 yesterday, I don’t think we gave up as much chances from us being sloppy and giving the puck away. I felt we didn’t get enough o-zone time, except for the third period when we started pushing. We dumped it in bad spots, gave it to their goalie, and they could pretty much go D-to-D and chip it out, and we had to start over. It’s tough when you don’t get any momentum.”
The Bears didn’t let Bridgeport forecheck. Vitek Vanecek smothered rebounds.
“I don’t think we were physical enough,” Brent Thompson said. “I thought we stepped up our physical play (later in the game). The biggest difference, we mismanaged the puck the first two periods.”
There’s just not a lot of margin for error in these short series. A couple periods where you get out-anythinged, and you need to win at least once on the road to keep the season going.
Of course, win two in Hershey and they’re waiting for an opponent.
Game 1: Bridgeport 3, Hershey 2 (2OT)
Game 2: Hershey 2, Bridgeport 0
Game 3: Tuesday, April 23, at Hershey, 7 p.m.
Game 4: Thursday, April 25, at Hershey, 7 p.m.
Game 5: Saturday, April 27, at Bridgeport, 7 p.m.*
So this is an obvious second-guess, I said: Any regrets about not making changes? “No. No. The decision, I think, was the right decision,” Thompson said. “The guys, if I was going to change? I was happy. So, no, not at all. The decision was fine. It’s on the guys that are playing. The guys have to play together and be consistent for 60 minutes, and we weren’t.”
This is a dumb factoid covering 13 years and more eras of team history than you can shake a stick at, but still: The past 11 playoff games in this building, dating to Game 4 of the 2006 Wilkes-Barre series, the Sound Tigers have been shut out five times. And four of the past six. It’s incredible.
Still: Fantastic crowds the past two nights here. Some markets might turn their noses up at 9,383 for two nights, but before this weekend, the top two first-round crowds ever in this building were Hartford Game 2 and Penguins Game 7 2004, totaling 8,201. Nice to see that many people, and nice work by the front-office staff that got them in.
Elsewhere, Charlotte won a see-saw Game 1 against Providence. Cleveland won big in Syracuse and carries a shocking 2-0 series lead home. Chicago held off Grand Rapids to tie that series up. In progress, Colorado is trying to even things up in Game 2 against Bakersfield.
Team’s off tomorrow. More Monday.