The Hershey Bears were sluggish out of the gate in games three and four in the Atlantic Division Semifinals at the Giant Center, but finished strong to dispatch of Charlotte.
Now as they look ahead to the Atlantic Division Finals against Hartford, the focus is not exactly on a fast start, but the right start.
“I’m not focused on the score,” Bears head coach Todd Nelson said. “I’m focused on the process, I’m focused on how our team’s played.”
“Are we playing detailed, are we doing the right things, are we going through the wall for each other, are we sacrificing our bodies, blocking shots, doing the right things, that’s what I’m looking at,” Nelson said. “The score will take care of itself if you do all of those things.”
The players are aware of what a slow start at home might mean this round, given an even tougher opponent in the Wolf Pack.
“He kind of got the message through to us pretty early and in our practices as well this week that if we’re going to play like that our first two games here we could go down 0-2 and have to fight for our lives in Hartford and that’s obviously not the outcome that we want,” Bears forward Mike Vecchione said. “We haven’t quite nailed it down but we’ve definitely picked up the intensity this week.”
The Wolf Pack are 13-2 in their last 15 games, so the Bears can’t bank on another comeback like their series-sealing win over Charlotte in game four of the division semifinals.
“We just got to get through that first period,” Nelson said. “If we get through that first period then we can tweak things, make adjustments and go from there but want to make sure we have a good first period and it starts with everybody as an individual. They all have to have a good first shift and just build off that.”
“From the drop of the puck we’ve got to be ready to go,” Vecchione said. “They’re one of the hottest teams in hockey right now and if we go down 0-2 we may not be able to come back in the next two periods so that’s not the start that we want. At the same time there is going to be that little bit of feeling out period. If we just get pucks in deep and get on our forecheck we’re going to have a pretty successful night.”
The puck drops on game one at the Giant Center Thursday night at 7 pm.