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Hershey In Sweet Position

The AHL champion Bears are doing what they do best this time of year.

Sunday's 4-1 victory over Manchester (N.H.) put the Caps' top minor league affiliate halfway to the Calder Cup finals. Read Tim Leone's gamer in The Patriot News here. Game 3 is tomorrow in Manchester.

Top prospects Mike Green and Tomas Fleischmann are looking pretty good, I'm told. Green has six goals (three in this series) and six assists in 12 games and Fleischmann has three goals and 11 helpers. Not too shabby. Hopefully, a second year of postseason success will help their confidence when they return to Washington in the fall.

I haven't made it up to Hershey yet, and I'm not sure my work schedule is going to allow me to get there anytime soon. As I mentioned in a previous post, I leave for the Indy 500 tomorrow and I've got a golf story to work on when I return next week.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  May 22, 2007; 8:05 AM ET
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Will NBC drop coverage of a Stanley Cup Final game going to triple OT in favor of a news report from Indy? I thought it was great of NBC to drop out, but the first thing out of their mouths from the Preakness was about a horse who had to be put down. What a downer. NBC stinks.

Posted by: NBC? | May 22, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Will NBC drop coverage of a Stanley Cup Final game going to triple OT in favor of a news report from Indy? I thought it was great of NBC to drop out, but the first thing out of their mouths from the Preakness was about a horse who had to be put down. What a downer. NBC stinks.

Posted by: NBC? | May 22, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

One of the Caps' biggest problems for as long as I can remember, has been the inability of their goal-scoring forwards to make the jump from the AHL to the big club.

They've had no problem turning out "grinders." But if Fleischmann and Fehr can each score 30 goals for the Caps that would be a fantastic accomplishment.


Posted by: Oneal | May 22, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I went to the Hershey game on Saturday and I'll be going back (hopefully) for the Finals. For anybody who hasn't seen a game up there, I highly recommend it. The Bears are a well-oiled machine, the arena is great and the crowd is buzzing the full 60 minutes. It's the way hockey should be. If only we could get some of that atmosphere down here at the Verizon Center. In terms of players; if Steckel isn't on the Caps roster next season someone should be fired, Green is playing with a swagger and skill level I haven't seen in him before, Schultz is as solid as ever and he looks even bigger, Bourque, though small, plays in all situations and never looks out of place or overmatched and Flash is just a gifted player. Whether he can translate his game to the NHL remains to be seen. All in all, the future is very bright down on the farm.

Posted by: boor4 | May 22, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

From what I've read Flash has been dangling around the defenses of the AHL competition. His vision on the ice has been praised, and I guess he'd be a good playmaking winger if he can ever bulk up. He's speedy, shifty, and has this good vision. Hopefully he cangraduate tot he capitals this offseason. However I have a feeling that if he ever makes it in the NHL, it will be with another team. The caps are too deep on the left wing, and I don't think Flash has ever been tried on the right wing.

That 4 point game he had against the lightning was great, and with more bulk he can assert himself like that more often. I'd say start him on the fourth line RW and let him work his way up.

Posted by: Graham | May 22, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I've been to every Hershey home game since the end of the first round. I just love going to Hershey, it is everything that I think is lacking in the game night experience here in DC. Again, I can't feel any stronger about recommending Caps fans get up to Hershey for at least one game.

As for the players, Green is scary, and not really in a good way. Offensively Green has been fairly decent. But he's still a liability defensively. He is playing very individually (i.e. selfishly) and his stereotypical play is to get the puck from behind the Hershey net, skate up the ice, through three or four opponents, duck behind the opponent net, skate back up to the point and then puck the puck right on the tape of an opponent's stick. He's scoring goals and moves the puck up the ice, but he doesn't look to pass nearly as often as he should and seems to have a complex about how good he is (given his reactions after scoring). Don't get me wrong, I was a huge Green fan and still think he has good potential, but he's still looking like he's a long ways from taking a regular NHL shift if he continues to play the way he is.

Fleischmann is the Flash. He's quick, nifty, a gifted playmaker with great vision. Unfortunately as great as he is on any given night he disappears in a flash other nights and you don't even notice him. Again he's got upside and is very talented, but at this rate he doesn't appear to be developing anymore to me, he's showing the same thing he showed in DC. Great one night, hat trick and wizardry on the ice, and then just invisible the next. That's probably the extent of him and we'll see if it will translate to the NHL level I guess.

I can't rave enough about Schultz. He's 100 times improved over a year ago and more than I ever expected at this point in his career. His development over the past year clearly shows. He is patient, does not get rattled and has a very veteran saavy to him. He moves the puck well and is beginning to use his big body to his advantage along the boards. He's above the AHL right now, after this postseason he'll never see anything below the NHL again (unless he seriously regresses).

Klepis continues to be a little frustrating to watch. He too shows flashes and even throws the body around but is prone to periods of invisibility. Steckel is a BEAST. He's hands down the best penalty killer at the level he plays at that I've ever seen. What I wonder about Steckel is would he be able to play at that level in the NHL, given the increased speed? He's just so good at the AHL level it would be a shame not to give him a shot at 4th line centering duties. With Gordo centering the 3rd line you could have him with the first unit PK and Steckel on the 2nd unit PK and you'd win faceoffs and get the puck out (well, that's how it happens in my dreams at least).

Other guys in Hershey who have caught my eye...

Scott Barney is probably a career AHLer. But my Lord he looks like the Cam Neely of the AHL. He's a big boy who can park it in front of the net, screen the netminder and collect junk goals. He's got good hands but he's slow and that's probably why he doesn't make the show. Still, if the Caps were so inclined to give him a shot in camp next year I wouldn't mind seeing it, he's the kind of player we've been missing for quite a while.

Giroux is another supremely gifted player. He hussles, throws his weight around, stickhandles with the best and has a nose for the net. I have a feeling if the Caps don't give him a shot in the offseason he may sign elsewhere quickly.

Bourque has been great, surprisingly a very good penalty killer and he's also the point on the power play as the QB. He's super fast, gritty, tough, handles the puck well and has a good shot. Is he big enough for the NHL? I'm not sure, but he's a very good AHLer.

Hedlund, who we got in the Nycholat trade, is not very good. Not much else to say (LOL). Louis is Louis, good as an agitator. There are a host of role players like Wisemanm, Wilson, Hendricks and Laing who have all been pretty solid too. Englland brings physicality to the defense and Arsene is the unquestioned leader of the team. And last but not least, Cassivi is the rock upon which the Bears are built. He is the Olie Kolzig of the Bears and the team would not be as good without him in net.

Sorry for the long winded post, thought I'd give my observations...

Posted by: Jay | May 22, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

We keep reading about Fleischmann, Steckels, et al, down on the farm, and the fact is they NEED TO PLAY. They cannot possibly do anything more for Hershey and need NHL ice time.
McPhee shows more of his ineptitude in each passing season, signing the Clymers of the world to long term deals. Let the kids play, George - how do you think Getzlaf and Parise honed their craft? As kings of the A?

Posted by: shaggy | May 22, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Well once Getzlaf showed he was dominant in teh AHL he was called up. In fact last year after the Ducks were eliminated he was sent down again.

Also consider the fact that even if they are not called up to the Caps they have a role in the organization with respect to the development of other prospects. Having a dominant farm team creats a winning atmosphere in which more and more of our prospects will play.

Posted by: Graham | May 22, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Washington, your future coach is here. I said this 10 times already, if Hanlon gets the team off to a slow start, he will be replaced by Bruce Boudreu. I live in Hershey and have season tickets, this guy knows how to coach. The players love him, and they play hard for him every night. Look at what he has done the last 2 years. He is offensive minded but does not ignore the defensive side. Don't tell be about Butch Cassidy, Bruce is a players coach. I like Hanlon, but I didn't think the players responded to him as much as the year before. Plus, Bruce coached a lot of the players the Caps have. Think about it.

Posted by: Pete Peeters | May 22, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse


Golf question (since you mentioned you cover golf): Is anyone from the post covering the Mellwood PG County open? (That's the Nationwide Tour event for those who don't know.)

Posted by: Golf fan | May 22, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Jay and Boor, you said it exactly, too watch a game at Hershey is an event. I have been fortunate to live in Hershey and attend games at both the Giant Center and the old arena. I wish you could have attended a game at the old arena. That place rocked, there was no big board, and that meant more chanting from the fans. I have been a Caps fan since the days of Pee Wee Maruk, I want them to win a Stanley Cup more than anyone. I wish the atmosphere in Hershey would be that in Washington.

Posted by: Pete Peeters | May 22, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Pete Peeters, I agree with you to an extent. I think if Hanlon gets canned, bruce will be promoted to assistant coach, behind one of Hanlon's assistants. I don't think the Caps will be very eager to just hand the reigns over to an AHL coach who has no NHL coaching experience. Even Hanlon had to back up Cassidy. I would like to see Boudreau in the NHL with the Caps someday though.

It cracks me up that Craig Berube is an assistant coach with the flyers (or maybe the phantoms, I don't remember which). I think he coaches special teams.

Bruce was interviewed last offseason for the Canucks head coaching job I believe.

Posted by: Graham | May 22, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

As for the Mellwood Open, I know there was some discussion about that earlier this month. Not sure what decision was made about coverage.

Posted by: Tarik | May 22, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

shaggy, getzlaf and parise are both younger than fleischmann and steckel, and they are both better players to begin with(spent 1-2 seasons max in the ahl), but i agree with your point on clymer

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2007 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, its a crying shame that you are not being allowed up to Hershey to cover the future of this club. You are the Caps beat reporter and these guys are the future of the Caps! Hell even Atlantas newspaper has sent their Thrashers beat writer to Chicago to cover their A affiliate. You should lobby harder for this. You are a great writer and we need to know how our guys up there are doing!

Posted by: Don | May 22, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Running on the asumption that the Post doesn't want to run you up to Hershey for ganes Tarik, could they run coverage from the Harrisburgh paper of the games? It would be nice to get more indepth coverage. Then again, the Post doesn;t send peopel to the local minor league baseball games, and those are a heck of alot easier to get to. I guess It's a matetr of space in the paper.:^\

Posted by: EricS | May 22, 2007 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Not that I'm Saying Fredie isn't a Rock but Max D had alot to do with us breaking a franchise record in points!

Posted by: Dan L | May 23, 2007 6:15 AM | Report abuse

Not that I'm Saying Fredie isn't a Rock but Max D had alot to do with us breaking a franchise record in points!

Posted by: Dan L | May 23, 2007 6:15 AM | Report abuse

Yeah I'd like to see Max D get in a game but I doubt it happens. Freddie is the rock, especially in the playoffs. Can't mess with what works

Posted by: Graham | May 23, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

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