By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
Welcome everyone to the first preview of the Providence Bruins season. I hope you’re as excited as I am to get this year started. Just to quickly recap last season, the Providence Bruins ended up 38-27-8-3 (87 points) which was good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. They would go on to lose in the first round of playoffs to the eventual Calder Cup Champion Charlotte Checkers in four games. This season looks to be even better with Providence’s loaded roster.
The season kicks off on Saturday, October 5th, 2019 when the Providence Bruins head down to invade the PPL Center to take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Bruins continue their tour of the Keystone State when they head to Hershey, Pennsylvania to take on the Hershey Bears at the Giant Center on Sunday, October 6th, 2019. It should be an exciting first weekend of divisional matchups that you do not want to miss.
Saturday, October 5, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AWAY)
The Providence Bruins start off the regular season on the road playing against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The matchup marks the first of what will be six games against the divisional foe this season. Last year, our boys in black and gold were 3-3 against the Flyers’ affiliate. Despite the record, all of the games were close as both teams had a similar style of play.
Historically, the Providence club has had trouble with Lehigh Valley going 9-13-2 over the past five seasons including 4-7-1 on the road. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms were 39-30-4-3 (85 Points) which was good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference. Despite being eighth in the conference, they missed the playoffs because the top four teams in each division go on to the postseason.
Special teams are going to play a big part in this game. Last season both teams had exceptional penalty kill at 85% for Providence and 85.1% for Lehigh Valley. On the flipside, both had mediocre power play with 18.8% for the Phantoms and 17.7% for the Bruins. The Flyers’ affiliate is sure to come out strong for their home opener, but with the loaded roster for our boys in black and gold, I expect Providence to get the two points.
Sunday, October 6, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Hershey Bears (AWAY)
The Pennsylvania road trip continues as the Providence Bruins take on the Hershey Bears. This too will be the first of six meetings the two teams will have this season. Last season, the spoked P was 4-2 against the Capitals’ affiliate and they’ve had good success against them in recent years. Over the past five seasons, the Boston affiliate has a 15-8-2-1 record against Hershey including 5-6-2 on the road.
Last season, the Hershey Bears were 43-25-4-4 (94 Points) which was good for third in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. They would go on to beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in five games in round one of the playoffs and go on to lose to Charlotte in round two getting swept in four games.
Special teams are also going to play a big part in this game. As I stated earlier the Bruins had an excellent penalty kill at 85% last season. The Bears, on the other hand, had a rather pedestrian 79.6% penalty kill. With four of the six games, last season decided by just one goal and two of them going to overtime this is something that will play a major role in the matchup’s outcome. I expect the game to be close, but coming out with a win is certainly doable for the Providence club.
Players to Watch This Weekend
Jack Studnicka: Studnicka is arguably the best prospect the Boston Bruins have in their system. The young center starts his first full season with Providence and it should be an exciting one. He did get a taste of the AHL last year playing in the team’s four playoff games netting a goal and dishing out an assist for two total points. The forward group is sure to be loaded for the spoked P and I expect big things from Studnicka. Look for him to have a big first weekend of the season.
On the Blue Line
Cooper Zech: Like Studnicka, Zech is starting his first full season with Providence. After signing an AHL contract last March, he played in 12 games with the spoked P he didn’t find the back of the net himself, but he did dish out four assists for four total points. In the team’s four playing games he would net two goals without dishing an assist for two total points. Zech also managed to net two goals in the team’s final preseason game. The young defenseman is offensive-minded, and I expect him to have a big weekend.
Kyle Keyser: Kyle Keyser comes to Providence after having an excellent season and playoffs with the Oshawa Generals in the OHL. This will be the young netminder’s first full professional season as well. The 20-year-old was excellent for the Boston Bruins in the preseason and played really well in Providence’s last preseason game. It’s pretty clear that he’s the best goalie prospect the team has, and if given the chance to play in the AHL he will be awesome.
It’s an exciting time when hockey returns to our lives. This season should be a thrilling one for the Providence Bruins. They are loaded with many of the system’s top prospects. I expect them to make the playoffs again this year, and at least make it passed the first round. This season has all the makings of being something special and I cannot wait to bring you coverage of this team. Also, for any of you interested in prospects, I will be doing a prospect podcast with the Black N’ Gold founder Mark Allred. You can find any podcast updates on Twitter @BNGProspectsPod. I hope everyone enjoys the first weekend of the season and as always GO, Bs, GO!