Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 6 Preview

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week six of the AHL season has arrived, and the Providence Bruins are 7-4-0-2 (16 points). They are also 4-4-0-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. Our boys in black and gold are coming off a week that saw them beat the then-undefeated Utica Comets 2-0. The Providence club would follow that big win up with a loss to the Hershey Bears 5-3. Week six sees the Bruins end their current four-game road trip before coming home for two games to wrap up the weekend.

The weekend action starts out on Saturday, November 9, 2019, when the Providence Bruins wrap their road trip by invading Bridgeport, Connecticut, to take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena. The hockey battles continue on Sunday, November 10, 2019, when the Hartford Wolf Pack make their way to Providence, Rhode Island to take on the Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Finally, the spoked P wraps up their week on Monday, November 11, 2019, when the Bruins take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Dunk.

Saturday, November 9, 2019, (AWAY) and Monday, November 11, 2019, (HOME) Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers

The Providence Bruins bookend their week with the second and third of 12 matchups against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. In the first meeting, the Bruins shutout the Islanders’ affiliate 4-0. The spoked P got goals from Peter Cehlarik, Cameron Hughes, Robert Lantosi, and Ryan Fitzgerald. Goalie Max Lagace was superb in net stopping all 30 shots he faced.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers provide a favorable matchup for the Providence club. The Bridgeport club comes into the weekend 3-7-2-1 (9 points) and 2-6-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for eighth in the Atlantic Division and 15th in the Eastern Conference.  Furthermore, the Bruins are 22-16-6-3 against the Islanders’ affiliate over the past five seasons.

The biggest key to Bruins’ victory in these two games is taking an early lead and keeping it. The Sound Tigers are 0-3-1 when trailing after one and 0-6-1 when trailing after two. To add insult to injury, the Bridgeport club in 13 games has only scored 25 goals while giving up 46. Not only is this a horrendous -21 goal differential, but they’re only scoring 1.92 goals a game while giving up  3.53. They are giving up almost double what they’re actually scoring. This isn’t a winning formula.

To compare, the Providence Bruins are 5-0 when leading after one period and 5-0 when leading after two periods. They’ve also scored 41 goals while giving up only 31 in 13 games. That means, not only do they have a plus-six goal differential, but they are scoring 3.15 goals a game while only giving up 2.69. These are two games that the Providence club has to win. You have to beat teams you’re supposed to beat if you want to succeed.

Sunday, November 10, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (HOME)

Week six continues when the Hartford Wolf Pack take on the Providence Bruins in a Sunday afternoon battle. It will be the first of 10 meetings the two clubs will have. This is going to be a tough game for our boys in black and gold. The Rangers’ affiliate comes into the matchup 8-1-0-3 (19 points) and 6-1-0-3 in their last 10 games. This is good for first in the Atlantic Division as well as first in the Eastern Conference.

Despite this uphill battle, there is hope for the Providence Bruins. They have seen success against Hartford in recent years. Over the past five seasons, our boys in black and gold have gone 21-11-4-2, including 13-4-1-1 at the Dunk. The Wolf Pack has seen success this season thanks to a stifling defense. They’ve given up only 27 goals in 12 games. This means they’re giving up only 2.25 goals a game.

Only one other team in the Eastern Conference has given up fewer goals. To add to their defense, the New York affiliate has only given up five goals in 44 penalty kill opportunities. That’s an excellent 88.6%, which is good for second in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. They’ve also only given up one shorthanded goal.

To compare, the Providence Bruins have given up 10 goals in 59 penalty kill opportunities. That’s 83.1%, which is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. The spoked P has also given up a league-leading three shorthanded goals. It’s going to be a challenging game for our boys in black and gold. They’ll need to be on top of their game if they want the two points.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Paul Carey: Paul Carey has been excellent for the Providence Bruins since coming to them in a trade midseason last year. Coming into this season, the former Boston College Eagle was named the team’s Captain. The veteran forward has taken the captaincy and ran with it. In 13 games this season, he’s netted seven goals and dished out three assists for 10 total points. That includes points in eight of his last 10 games, scoring six goals and dishing out three assists for nine total points in that time frame.

Robert Lantosi: This is Robert Lantosi’s first professional season in North America. The young forward has spent his entire career playing in Sweden and Slovakia. He would play all of last season for HK Nitra of the Tipsport Liga, which is Slovakia’s highest hockey league. In 56 games with HK Nitra, he netted 20 goals and dished out 38 assists for 58 total points. So far this season, in nine games with Providence, the Slovakia native has netted three goals and dished out four assists for seven total points. This includes points in six of nine games this season.

Not

Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen came into the season one of the Bruins’ brightest prospects. The young defenseman had an excellent first season, last year. In 13 games this season, the Native of Finland hasn’t found the back of the net and has dished out two assists for two total points. This includes not registering a point in his last 10 games. He also doesn’t look as confident on the ice as he did last season. Let’s hope he shakes off the rust soon.

Pavel Shen: This is also Pavel Shen’s first professional season in North America. The young forward comes the Providence after spending the beginning of his career in Russia. The native of Russia has had mixed reviews since coming to Providence. In nine games so far this season, he hasn’t found the back of the net and has dished out two assists for two total points. Though it’s been a tough start, let’s hope he break out of his slump soon.

My Players to Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka came into the season with a lot of hype. The young center is one of the Bruins’ best prospects, and he’s exciting the fanbase. In 13 games this season, the OHL product has netted two goals while dishing out six assists for eight total points. Not too bad for just starting his first full professional season. He also registered an assist in the first matchup against Bridgeport. Look for him this weekend.

On The Blue Line

Jakub Zboril: Jakub Zboril has had a great start to his 2019-2020 season. In 13 games, the young defenseman has netted one goal and dished out four assists for five total points. He’s also playing great defense. I believe he’s starting to look like the player they drafted. Also of note, in 18 games against Bridgeport and Hartford last season, he netted two goals and dished out five assists for seven total points. Look for him to have a big weekend.

In Net

Max Lagace: Max Lagace has had an excellent start to his first season in Providence. He’s 5-1-1 with a 2.15 GAA and a .930 save percentage. The veteran netminder leads the league in shutouts with three. Lagace was also in the net when Providence shutout Bridgeport earlier this season. With two games against the Sound Tigers this weekend, I’d expect him to have a big weekend.

The Providence Bruins have had an excellent start to their season. They’ve been hovering right around the top of the standings all year. One of the biggest positives I’ve seen this year is their ability to bounce back. Whenever they’ve had a rough loss, they seem able to put it behind them before the next game. We’ve also seen them come back in a few games this year as well. That is huge for such a young team. I hope everyone enjoys the games this weekend. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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