Playoffs. It’s often a word coaches hate using unless absolutely necessary, and a word fans begin using in training camp every season. It is a word Hershey Bears fans have grown accustomed to using at this juncture of the season, and teams like the Adirondack Phantoms dream of using. Exactly eight weeks from today marks the day after the regular season for the Hershey Bears. Eight weeks from today it will either be locker clean out day at Giant Center, or day one of practice in preparation for the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Since the beginning of the Bears-Capitals affiliation in the 2005-06 season, the Bears are yet to miss out on the playoffs. Eight weeks from now, we will know if the playoff streak has been extended to eight consecutive years, or end at seven. Within the last seven years, Hershey has added three Calder Cup Championships, appeared in the finals four times, and have been knocked out in the first round on three occasions.
Each Monday until the end of the regular season, we will break down the standings in each division of the Eastern Conference and look at the conference’s current top 10 teams. Once the regular season concludes, the top eight will advance to represent the Eastern Conference in the postseason.
First, the East Division:
It is worth noting last four Calder Cup Champions are all from the East Division. For nine consecutive seasons, an East Division team has at the very least appeared in the finals.
For the Hershey Bears, within the month of March, their first six consecutive games are all against East Division opponents. The Bears will battle Wilkes-Barre only once on March 1, Norfolk three times on March 2, 8 and 9, Syracuse once on March 3, and Binghamton once on March 10. Half of the six division match ups will be played at Giant Center.
Out of Hershey’s nine games in April, four will be against East Division foes. The Bears will kick off the month with a home-and-home against the Syracuse Crunch on April 5-6, followed by a trip up Interstate 81 to face the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. The Chocolate and White will travel to Binghamton for their final East Divison game of the season on April 20. The Bears’ record this season against the East Division is 11-7-3-3.
The Hershey Bears are set for seven upcoming games against the Atlantic Division. Three games will take place in March, four will wait until April. However, only two of the seven remaining games against the Atlantic will be played in Hershey.
The Bears are set for three games against the Manchester Monarchs on March 23, April 13 and April 24. Hershey will also visit Worcester for a game against the Sharks on March 24, and face the Providence Bruins on March 30 and April 12. The Bears’ final Atlantic Division opponent is the Portland Pirates, who will host Hershey on April 14.
Hershey’s record when facing the Atlantic Division this season is an even 4-4-0-1.
The Bears only have five remaining games against the Northeast Division this season and four will be played in March. The Hershey Bears will battle with Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the final time this season at the GC on March 16. The Bears are to face the Adirondack Phantoms twice on March 17 and April 19, the Connecticut Whale once on March 22 and the Albany Devils on March 29.
Hershey’s record against the Northeast Division thus far is a satisfying 7-5-0-0.
There are only eight home games remaining in the 2012-13 regular season for Hershey, so if you haven’t already, buy your tickets soon and let’s pack the Giant Center!