By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
Week 20 is upon us, and the Providence Bruins come into it off the heels of their toughest weekend since the calendar turned to 2019 at 27-19-6-1 (61 points) and 7-3 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division, and they are clinging to that eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Last weekend was tough with the Baby B’s losing two of three games. It’ll be interesting to see how the boys in black and gold bounce back. I always say you can truly see the make-up of a team when they falter at some point during the season. If they can bounce back quickly, you know you have a special team, and if they don’t, it’s probably not their year. With all of that being said, there is an exciting weekend of heart-pounding hockey ahead that you do not want to miss.
The exciting hockey action starts out on Friday, February 22, 2019, when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers cross enemy lines and invade the Dunk in Providence, Rhode Island. The weekend continues when the Providence Bruins take their show on the road to take on the Hartford Wolfpack at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut. Finally, the weekend wraps up with some more home cooking when the Hartford Wolfpack make their way to the Dunkin Donuts Center. It’s going to be a jam-packed weekend of must-see hockey. Hopefully, the Baby B’s can turn their play around from the last couple games and grab at least four points this week.
Friday, February 22, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (HOME)
The weekend match-up will mark the 10th time that these two teams have met, and all the games have been closely contented games with five of the seven games going to overtime or shoot-out. 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). Goalie Dan Vladar was excellent in net stopping 29 of the 30 shots he faced. The sixth game of the season series saw 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. Part seven of the season series saw the Bruins fall 4-3 in a shoot-out getting goals from Jordan Szwarz, Mark McNeill, and Zach Senyshyn while goalie Dan Vladar stopped 12 of the 15 shots that came his way.
The season series continued on Friday, February 8, 2019, when the Providence Bruins beat the Sound Tigers 2-1 getting goals from Captain Jordan Szwarz, and Connor Clifton. Goalie Zane McIntyre was excellent in the net stopping 25 of the 26 shots that were fired his way. The most recent game of the season series was the very next nice and it saw the Baby B’s fall to Bridgeport 4-2 with the Bruins getting goals from Emil Johansson and Cameron Hughes. Net-minder Dan Vladar played admirably in net stopping 22 of the 25 shots that came his way. It’s been an exciting season series, and game 10 should not disappoint.
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers come into the game 30-18-5-2 (67 points) and 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference. The Providence Bruins had an up and down season against the Islanders’ affiliate this year going 4-1-3-1. However, over the past five years, the Baby B’s have seen success against the Bridgeport club going 24-17-5-3 including 16-6-2 at home in that time frame. This bodes well for the weekend match-up. Major keys to this game will be special teams and getting a keeping a lead early.
The Sound Tigers have the eighth-ranked power play in the Atlantic Division, and 13th ranked in the Eastern Conference at 17.4%. Meanwhile, the Islanders’ affiliate has the fifth-ranked penalty kill in the Atlantic Division, and ninth-ranked in the Eastern Conference at 80.7% On the flipside the Providence Bruins have the fifth-best power play in the Atlantic Division and the 10th ranked in the Eastern Conference at 18.0%. Their penalty kill is much stronger boasting the best in the Atlantic Division as well as the Eastern Conference at 86.3%. In terms of grabbing an early lead and keeping it, the Sound Tigers are 14-3-3-1 when leading after the first period and 15-2-4-2 when leading after two. The Baby B’s are 11-5-2 when leading after one, and 21-3-2-1 when leading after two. It should be a closely contested game between the two clubs.
Saturday, February 22, 2019 (AWAY) and Sunday, February 23, 2019 (HOME) Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolfpack
The weekend home and home series will mark the ninth and tenth times 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 seventh battle royale 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 most recent throw-down saw our boys in black and gold win 5-2 getting goals from Paul Carey (3), Karson Kuhlman, and Connor Clifton. Goaltender Zane McIntyre was fantastic in net turning away 23 of the 25 shots that were sent his way.
The Hartford Wolfpack came into the weekend series 21-25-5-3 (50 points) and 2-5-2-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for eighth in the Atlantic Division and 16th in the Eastern Conference. The Baby B’s have had an up and down season against Hartford this year going 4-3-1. Despite this, the Providence club has enjoyed some success at home against the Rangers’ affiliate over the past five seasons going 21-13-4-2 overall. Getting a lead early on, and keeping it is going to play a major factor in this game. The Bruins are 12-5-2 when leading after one period, and 21-3-2-1 when leading after two periods. At the other end, the Wolf Pack are 10-2 when leading after one period and 13-2-2-2 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 the weekend series with four points.
Who’s hot and Who’s not for the Bruins
Jakub Zboril: Jakub Zboril has had a good year so far for the Providence Bruins despite some injury. The QJMHL product has played in 34 games for the Baby B’s already matching last year’s goal total of four while also dishing out nine assists for 13 points. This is a point per game total of 0.38 which is higher than his last year total of 0.27 (4-15-19 in 68 games played). To top it off he has four points in his last 6 games played finding the back of the net once and tallying three assists in that time frame. He has done all of this while playing good defense. Hopefully, the young defenseman can keep up his play this weekend.
Gemel Smith: It seems like Gemel Smith is on the hot category for the Bruins every week, but that just shows how good the young forward has been since coming over in a December trade with Dallas. In 25 games with the Baby B’s the OHL product has netted nine goals and tallied 14 assists for 23 total points. That is a point per game total of 0.92. That is much higher than his OHL days of 0.77 (89-114-203 in 264 games played). To top it off he has registered a point in eight of his last ten games finding the back of the net three times and dishing out eight assists for eleven total points in that time frame. It’s safe to say that we should look for him to have a good weekend.
Paul Carey: Paul Carey has been very good for Providence since coming over in a trade with Ottawa. He has netted six goals while tallying four assists for ten total points in 12 games. However, the former Boston College Eagle and two-time NCAA Champion have hit a cold spell only netting one goal and dishing out one assist for two points in his last six games. Hopefully, the veteran forward can find his stride this weekend.
Ryan Fitzgerald: Fitzgerald has had a good year for the Providence Bruins potting seven goals and dishing out 21 assists for 28 total points in 40 games played. That is a point per game total of 0.70. The former Boston College Eagle had a point per game total of 0.87 (66-66-132 in 152 games played) during his NCAA days. Now, he did recently come back from an injury that saw him miss about a month, but since coming back from injury, he has only tallied two assists and hasn’t scored a goal since December 1, 2018. Hopefully the young forward can snap out of it and have a good weekend for Providence.
My players to watch this weekend
Cameron Hughes: Hughes has had an excellent first full season with Providence netting 13 goals and dishing out 15 assists for 28 total points in 52 games played. That’s a point per game total of 0.53. He’s played especially good against the two Connecticut teams Bridgeport and Hartford. In 17 games played against the two teams, the former University of Wisconsin Captain has found the back of the net five times and dished out six assists for eleven total points. That means 39% of the points he’s scored have come against these two teams. Look for him to have another big weekend.
On the Blue Line
Kyle Cumiskey: Cumiskey has had a very good season since coming over to Providence mid-season. The veteran defenseman has netted three goals while dishing out 13 assists for 16 total points in 28 games played. This is a point per game total of 0.57. The WHL product has been especially good against Bridgeport and Hartford in 11 games against the two teams this year he has found the back of the net two times while tallying eight assists for ten total points. That means an eye-popping 62.5% of the points he has scored have come against these two teams. Look for the gritty defenseman to have a big weekend for the Baby B’s.
Zane McIntyre: McIntyre was on an insane hot streak. He had won 13 starts in a row before having a bad game and losing Sunday against Springfield. The veteran goaltender has really solidified the goalie position for Providence as well as being an anchor for the defense has a whole. He is a big reason why the team is in a playoff spot. I would look for him to have a bounce-back weekend after losing his win streak.
The Providence Bruins are currently sitting in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after having their first rough weekend in six weeks. Despite this, the Baby B’s remain only five points out of the fourth-place spot in the Eastern Conference. This weekend is an excellent chance for the boys in black and gold to gain some ground in the East. With two of the three games this weekend coming against a team that has a worse record I would look for the spoked P to at least grab four out of a six possible points. 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!