By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
Week two of the Providence Bruins season is upon us. Our boys in black and gold had a marvelous week one beating the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 3-0 and taking down the Hershey Bears 2-1 in overtime. After starting on the road, the spoked P finally comes home for the first time this year. The offense is playing well. That coupled with the defense and goaltending hitting on all cylinders, should make for an exciting home-opening weekend of hockey.
The action kicks off on Saturday, October 12, 2019, when the Rochester Americans roll into Providence, Rhode Island to invade the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The weekend action continues Sunday, October 13, 2019, when a familiar foe the Springfield Thunderbirds travel to Providence to take on the Bruins at the Dunk. Finally, week two wraps up on Wednesday, October 16, 2019, the Providence Bruins travel to Laval, Quebec, Canada to take on the Laval Rocket at Place Bell.
Saturday, October 12, 2019, Providence Bruins vs Rochester Americans (HOME)
The Providence Bruins finally come back to Rhode Island for their home opener against the Rochester Americans. This will be the first of two meetings that these teams will have this season. Despite also being in the Eastern Conference, the Buffalo Sabres’ affiliate is in a different division and that’s why the two teams don’t play often. Last season our boys in black and gold were 1-1 against Rochester and have been good against them in recent years.
Over the past five seasons, they hold a 7-1 record, including 4-0 at the Dunk. The Rochester Americans are 1-0 on the young season after beating the Syracuse Crunch in overtime 3-2 in their season opener. Last season they were 46-23-5-2 (99 points) this was good for second in the North Division and third in the Eastern Conference. They would go on to be swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Toronto Marlies.
Special teams are going to be a major part of this game. The Providence Bruins are a perfect 12 for 12 in killing penalties this season. The penalty kill has been outstanding. The Americans have also yet to register a goal in five power-play opportunities. Though the Bruins have only registered one power-play goal in seven chances, the Rochester club has given up two power-play goals in five opportunities. This could be a chance for the spoked P to get their power-play going.
The Bruins penalty kill was excellent stopping seven of eight power-play opportunities for the Americans, while also scoring on two of eight themselves. With both games last season one-goal games, we should be in for an exciting night of hockey. I believe the Bruins will come out of this game on top and give the home crowd something to cheer about.
Sunday, October 13, 2019, Providence Bruins vs Springfield Thunderbirds (HOME)
The Providence Bruins continue their homestand against a divisional foe the Springfield Thunderbirds. This is the first of 14 meetings between the two clubs. Last season our boys in black and gold had a rough time against the Panthers’ affiliate going 6-7-1. However, over the past five seasons, the Bruins have seen success against the Springfield club going 23-14-3, including 12-7-1 at the Dunk.
The Springfield Thunderbirds are currently 1-1 after opening weekend. They beat Bridgeport 5-1 in their opening game and fell to Charlotte 4-2 their last game. Last year was a rough year for the Panthers’ affiliate going 33-29-9-5 (80 points). That was good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference. The defense and goaltending are going to be major factors in this game.
Last season the Springfield club gave up 241 goals. This was good for sixth in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins meanwhile, gave up 212 goals last season. This was good for second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference. The spoked P has a much better defense, and to top it off they may have stronger players at the position this year. The Providence club also has only given up one goal so far this year. This should all equate to a victory for our boys in black and gold.
Wednesday, October 16, 2019, Providence Bruins vs Laval Rocket (AWAY)
The Providence Bruins end week two by traveling to Laval, Quebec, Canada to take on the Laval Rocket. This will be the first of four meetings the two teams will have this season. This is another case of a team being in the same conference but a different division so they do not play each other often. Last season, Providence had a tough time with the Montreal affiliate last season going 0-1-0-1.
Over the past five seasons, they’ve gone 2-1-0-1, including 1-0-0-1 on the road. The Laval hockey club has had a rough start to the year. They lost both opening weekend games to Cleveland 3-2 and 4-1. They had a record of 30-34-6-6 (72 points) last season. This was good for seventh in the North Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference.
The defense is going to play a major role in this game. The Montreal affiliate gave up 231 goals last season while only scoring 195. This means their goal differential is -36. Anything below zero is incredibly bad, but -36 is awful. With the Bruins having one of the stingier defenses in the league, this should be an easy win for Providence.
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not
Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce came to the Providence Bruins on a one-year contract after being an unrestricted free agent. He played in 60 games with the Utica Comets last season, netting 16 goals and dishing out 22 assists for 38 total points. So far this year, he’s netted two goals and dished out one assist for three total points in two games. He’s been excellent. Let’s hope he keeps it up.
Anders Bjork: Bjork has had a rough few seasons. He’s needed season-ending shoulder surgery two-years in a row. In the first two games this year he’s netted a goal and dished out an assist for two total points. The Notre Dame alum looks excellent so far this year. If he keeps playing at a high level, we may see him called up to Boston before long.
Zach Senyshyn: Zach Senyshyn remains a player that Boston Bruins fans are split on. You have one side that is ready to call him a bust. Then you have the other side who says he just needs time to develop. The young winger has had an up and down career in Providence and has started this season slower than you’d like. He’s yet to register a point in two games. Hopefully, he just needs time to warm up and gets his game going soon.
Trent Frederic: Frederic is another guy who fans seem split on. The young center, I believe may end up being a solid NHL player, but he too has started the year slower than you would like. He has yet to register a point this season, but hopefully, the slow start comes to an end this weekend.
My Players To Watch This Weekend
Jakub Lauko: Lauko is playing in his first season with the Bruins. The young forward comes to Providence after an excellent season the QMJHL where he scored 21 goals and dished out 20 assists for 41 total points in 44 games for Rouyn-Noranda. He has yet to score a point this season, but I expect that to change soon. He’s a top prospect in the Boston system and is primed to have an excellent year.
On The Blue Line
Urho Vaakanainen: Vaakanainen is one of the best young defensemen in the Bruins system. I expect him to take a big step forward in his second full season in North America. He’s looked good so far this season. He’s also played really well against Springfield in his career. In nine games he’s netted three goals and dished out five assists for eight total points. I expect him to have a big weekend.
Dan Vladar: Dan Vladar is one of the best young goaltenders in the Bruins system. He had an excellent first outing against Hershey stopping 21 of 22 shots in an overtime win. It’ll be interesting to see how the 22-year old follows up his excellent first win of the season.
It’s been an excellent start to the 2019-2020 season for the Providence Bruins. Taking their first two games of the year on the road was important. Now they get to come home and play two games at the Dunk in Providence, Rhode Island. I expect them to finish the weekend with two more wins under their belt, and honestly, I expect them to beat Laval on Wednesday. This team has a chance to be something special. I hope everyone enjoys the weekend action and as always, GO, Bs, GO!