By Tim Richardson| Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
Heading into week 15 the Providence Bruins currently sit at 18-16-6 (42 points) and 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for sixth in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. Despite being just out of the playoff picture, the Bruins managed to grab five out of six points last weekend and remain only four being behind fourth place in the Eastern Conference. This weekend, the Baby B’s have another full docket of games as it’s the fourth week in a row that they have a three-game weekend.
It all kicks off on Friday, January 18, 2019, when the Thunderbirds of Springfield invade the Dunk. Next up, the spoked P takes the show on the road on Saturday, January 19, 2019, when they travel to Bridgeport, Connecticut to take on the home team Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena. Finally, the Baby B’s wrap up the weekend enjoying some home cooking on Sunday, January 20, 2019, when they play host to the Hartford Wolf Pack at the Dunk. It’s going to be an exciting hockey filled weekend that you don’t want to miss.
Friday, January 18, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (HOME)
This game mark the seventh time the Bruins and Thunderbirds have faced off this season. In the first meeting, Springfield beat Providence 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Colby Cave. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre was a little off his game stopping 14 of 20 shots. The second meeting between the two teams saw a different score with the same result. The Florida Panther’s affiliate beat the Baby B’s 4-2 with the Bruins getting goals from now-departed Martin Bakos and Jan Kovar, while current goalie Zane McIntyre looked much better stopping 17 of 20 shots in net.
The third game of the season series saw the Bruins finally break through and get a win beating the Thunderbirds 5-4. The boys in black and gold got goals from Mark McNeill, Karson Kuhlman, Peter Cehlarik, Jordan Szwarz, and Connor Clifton while Dan Vladar stopped 22 of 26 shots he faced. The next installment of the season series did not go according to plan for the spoked P as they fell to the Springfield club 5-3. Bruins got goals from Zach Senyshyn, Gemel Smith, and Jordan Szwarz. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was a little off his game despite facing a barrage of shots stopping 34 of 39 he faced.
Part five of the season series was a good one for the boys in black and gold. The Bruins beat the Thunderbirds 4-3 getting goals from Peter Cehlarik (2), Trent Frederic, and Paul Carey. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre continued to play well as he turned away 19 of the 22 shots he faced. The most recent battle saw the Panthers’ affiliate beat the spoked P 3-2 in overtime. The Baby B’s were able to get goals from Gemel Smith, and Cameron Hughes with Dan Vladar giving a tremendous effort in net stopping 38 of the 41 shots he faced.
The Springfield hockey club comes into the seventh game of the season series with a record of 18-14-5-3 (44 points) and 3-4-3 in their last 10 games good for third in the Atlantic division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Thunderbirds seem to have the Bruins’ number this year going 4-2 against our boys thus far. Something that bodes well for the Baby B’s though is they are 9-4-1 against the Panthers’ affiliate in the last five seasons at home and 19-10-3 overall.
Something that has been a major key for the Springfield Thunderbirds this year is balanced scoring. They have eight players with at least 22 points on the season and are second in the Eastern Conference in goals for with 139. Shutting down the high-powered offense of Springfield is going to be huge for Providence. Something that plays into the Baby B’s favor is that they are tied for fifth in the entire Eastern Conference in goals against this season with 119. On top of that, the boys in black and gold have gotten some key defenders back in the lineup. This should make for a great game this weekend.
Saturday, January 19, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AWAY)
Saturday’s game marks the seventh time that these two teams have met, and all the games have been closely contented games with four of the six games going to overtime. The first game of the season series saw the Sound Tigers beat the Bruins 4-3 in overtime with the spoked P getting goals from the recently departed Colby Cave (2), and Jakub Zboril with goalie Dan Vladar playing well turning away 30 of 34 shots he faced. The next meeting saw the Providence club win 5-2 getting goals from Cameron Hughes, Colby Cave, Trent Frederic (2), and the now departed Jan Kovar. Goalie Zane McIntyre looked good in net stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced.
The third meeting between the two clubs saw Providence breakout offensively winning 6-1 getting goals from Cameron Hughes (3), Zach Senyshyn (2), and Trent Frederic. In net, Dan Vladar was superb stopping 28 of the 29 shots fired his way. The next three meetings the Eastern Conference foes would play ended up going to overtime. The first of those ended up going the Sound Tigers’ way 5-4 with the Bruins getting goals from Jan Kovar, Anton Blidh, Jakub Zboril, and Ryan Donato. Zane McIntyre was in net for the contest, and he was a little off his game stopping 20 of the 25 shots that were fired his way.
The next meeting between the two teams had the puck bounce the Bruins way as they won 2-1 in overtime getting goals from Wiley Sherman, and Ryan Fitzgerald (OT GW). Goalie Dan Vladar was excellent in net stopping 29 of the 30 shots he faced. Most recently, the Baby B’s fell in overtime 4-3 getting goals from Anton Blidh, Peter Cehlarik, and Kyle Cumiskey with goalie Dan Vladar stopping 13 of 17 shots he faced. It’s been a crazy season series thus far, and I would look for it to continue that way.
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers come into the game 22-14-4-2 (50 points) and 4-5-0-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and second in the entire Eastern Conference. This game will be especially tough for Providence because, despite their 23-16-5-2 record overall in the past five seasons against Bridgeport, the Baby B’s are only 8-10-3-2 in Bridgeport during that time. A major key to winning this game will be special teams.
The boys in black and gold boast the fifth best power play in the entire Eastern Conference at 20.6%, meanwhile, the Sound Tigers’ penalty kill is ranked ninth in the Eastern Conference at 80.4%. On the flip-side, the spoked P also has the second-best penalty kill in the entire Eastern Conference at 85.1% with the New York Islanders’ affiliate having just the 10th ranked power play in the Eastern Conference at 18.6%. Winning this match-up will go a long way to winning the game.
Monday, January 21, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (HOME)
The Monday game marks the eighth time the two teams have faced off this season. The first match-up saw the Wolf Pack beat the Bruins 4-2 with Providence getting goals from Austin Fyten and Mark McNeill while goalie Zane McIntyre was pulled in the first period after stopping 7 of 10 shots faced. Dan Vladar finished the game turning away all 8 shots he would see. The second meeting between the two teams saw a better result with Providence winning 4-3 in overtime. The Baby B’s got goals from Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic, and Cody Goloubef (OT GW), and goalie Zane McIntyre looked much better stopping 15 of 18 shots faced.
The third leg of the season series saw the Pack come out victorious, winning 4-3. The Providence club got goals from Zach Senyshyn, Colby Cave, and Anton Blidh. Goalie Dan Vladar had a busy game stopping 26 of 30 he faced. In game four these two clubs both fought hard, but Hartford came out on top 4-3 in overtime. The boys wearing the spoked P got goals from Karson Kuhlman, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Kyle Cumiskey. Goalie Zane McIntyre turned away 18 of 22 shots faced in the losing effort. In the fifth meeting this year the New York Rangers’ affiliated blanked Providence 3-0. Goalie Dan Vladar played well in the game stopping 30 of 33 shots faced.
More recently, the sixth meeting of the year could not have gone better for the spoked P, winning the game 5-1. The Bruins got goals from Peter Cehlarik (2), Emil Johansson, Gemel Smith, and Jordan Szwarz. Goalie Zane McIntyre looked excellent in net stopping 15 of 16 shots he faced. The two teams latest battle saw the Baby B’s score in bunches winning 6-3 getting goals from Peter Cehlarik, Jordan Szwarz, Karson Kuhlman, Anton Blidh, Mark McNeill, and Chris Breen. Zane McIntyre was up to the challenge in net for Providence stopping 15 of 18 shots he faced.
The Hartford Wolf Pack come into the Sunday match-up 18-17-2-2 (40 points) and 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club has enjoyed some success at home against the Rangers’ affiliate over the past five seasons going 13-4-1-1 and 20-13-4-2 overall. Getting a lead early on, and keeping it is going to play a major factor in this game. The Bruins are 10-5-2 when leading after one period, and 14-3-2 when leading after two periods. At the other end, the Wolf Pack are 9-2 when leading after one period and 12-2-1-2 when leading after two periods. If our boys in black and gold can grab a lead early and hold onto it, they stand a fantastic shot at coming out of this game with two points.
Who’s hot and Who’s not for the Bruins
Peter Cehlarik: Cehlarik has been nothing short of spectacular for the Bruins lately. In his last four games with the Baby B’s, he has netted five goals while dishing out two assists for seven total points. This includes two separate two-goal games. So far this season in the AHL, the Swedish Hockey League product has potted 10 goals while helping with 19 assists for 29 total points in 37 games played. This is good for a 0.78 point per game clip. This is higher than his career AHL point per game clip of 0.74 (41-49-90 in 121 games played) and much higher than his SHL clip of 0.37 (22-27-49 in 132 games played). The young forward was playing so well he earned a call up to Boston this week and even scored two goals in his first game with the big club this year.
Zane McIntyre: The veteran goaltender has been great for Providence recently. McIntyre has won his last four games played for the Baby B’s going 4-0-0. In doing so, he’s turned away 69 of the 78 shots that he’s faced for a .884 save percentage and goals against average of 2.25. Despite some drastic home and road splits this season, he has been a rock for the boys wearing the spoked P thus far and has been a big reason why they’ve begun to climb to standings in the Eastern Conference.
Jeremy Lauzon: Lauzon has had an up and down year for the Baby B’s. When he was sent back down to Providence from Boston, the big club wanted the young defenseman to work on his shot and play-making ability. He has only found the stat sheet once over his past four games dishing out one assist for one total point. Despite this, so far this season he’s played 20 games in the AHL he’s found the back of the net once and dished out five assists for six total points. This is a point per game clip of 0.30 which is higher than his AHL career total of 0.18 (2-11-13 in 72 games), but still much lower than his OMJHL days of 0.65 points per game (35-95-130 in 200 games).
Dan Vladar: The young net-minder has had a rough go of it as of late. Over his last four games, he has a record of 1-2-1 turning away 111 shots of the 128 he has faced for a save percentage of .888 and goals against average of 3.49. Hopefully, Vladar can pick up his play the rest of the year. If the Bruins want to win and find themselves in the playoffs, they’re going to need both goalies to be on top of their game.
My players to watch this weekend
Cameron Hughes: Hughes has been very good for Providence this year and especially so against Springfield, Bridgeport, and Hartford. On the season, 11 of the young forward’s 24 points have come in the 19 games against these three teams. This is good for a point per game clip of 0.58 which is higher than his AHL career of 0.50. Look for him to have a big weekend for the Baby B’s.
On the Blue Line
Urho Vaakanainen: The young defenseman returned to the lineup for Providence for the first time since October due to a combination of being called up to Boston, getting injured, and helping Finland win the gold medal at the U20 World Junior Championships. In the three games since his return, Vaakanainen was excellent playing great defense and dishing out three assists for three total points. Look for him to continue playing well further raising his stock as a prospect.
Zane McIntyre: As I stated earlier the veteran goalie has played really well for Providence going 4-0-0 in his last four games with a goals against average of 2.25 and a save percentage of .884 which saw him turn away 69 of the 78 shots he faced. Zane has been able to solidify the goalie position recently for the Baby B’s which has led to them slowly but surely climbing the Eastern Conference standings. Sometimes with goalies, you need to ride the hot hand. Look for the Bruins to do that this weekend.
The Providence Bruins were able to grab five of six points last weekend to climb into sixth place in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. Their defensive play has really been a joy to watch since they’ve gotten Zboril and Vaakanainen back in the lineup. I would expect the Baby B’s to have another big weekend which will help catapult them in the division and conference standings. This team is too talented to not be in playoff contention. We will catch up with you next week to let you know how the team fared but feel free to send any questions or comments to me on Twitter. I hope everyone enjoys the games this weekend and Go, B’s, Go!