Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 8 Preview

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week eight of the AHL season is here, and the Providence Bruins skate into it 9-7-0-2 (20 points), including 4-5-0-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a week that saw them take down the Hartford Wolf Pack 4-3 in a shootout. They would then lose to the same Hartford club 5-2. The spoked P will have a tough weekend coming up with three games in three days and then a game Wednesday.

The hockey action kicks off on Friday, November 22, 2019, when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers invade Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Then on Saturday, November 23, 2019, the Providence Bruins make their way to Springfield, Massachusetts, to take on the Springfield Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. The Bruns’ three games in three days come to an end on Sunday, November 24, 2019, when the Hershey Bears travel to Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunk. Finally, the Bruins wrap up week eight on Wednesday, November 27, 2019, when they travel to Hershey, Pennsylvania, to take on the Hershey Bears at the Giant Center.

Friday, November 22, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (HOME)

The Friday matchup with mark the fourth of 12 that these two teams will have this season. The first game saw the Bruins shutout the Sound Tigers 4-0, getting goals from Peter Cehlarik, Cameron Hughes, Robert Lantosi, and Ryan Fitzgerald. Goalie Max Lagace was excellent in net topping all 30 shots fired his way.

In the second meeting, the Providence club would win 4-1, getting goals from Joona Koppanen, Brendan Gaunce, Alex Petrovic, and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Max Lagace was fantastic in net stopping 31 of 32 shots fired his way. The most recent meeting saw the Bruins lose 2-0. Goaltender Max Lagace was up to the task in net stopping 33 of 35 shots fired his way.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers provide a favorable matchup for the Providence club. The Bridgeport club comes into the weekend 4-10-3-1 (12 points) and 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for eighth in the Atlantic Division and 16th in the Eastern Conference.  Furthermore, the Bruins are 23-17-6-3 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 0-5-2 when trailing after one and 0-8-1 when trailing after two. To add insult to injury, the Bridgeport club in 18 games has only scored 32 goals while giving up 59. Not only is this a horrendous -27 goal differential, but they’re only scoring 1.77 goals a game while giving up  3.27. They are giving up almost double what they’re actually scoring. This isn’t a winning formula.

To compare, the Providence Bruins are 6-0 when leading after one period and 7-0 when leading after two periods. They’ve also scored 52 goals while giving up only 48 in 18 games. That means, not only do they have a plus-four goal differential, but they are scoring 2.88 goals a game while only giving up 2.66. This is a game that Providence must win. Bridgeport is not a good club at all.

Saturday, November 23, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (AWAY)

The Saturday night matchup will be the second of 14 these two teams will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 5-2, getting goals from Peter Cehlarik and Anders Bjork. Goalie Dan Vladar was subpar in net stopping 23 of the 28 shots fired his way.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 11-7 (22 points) and 7-3 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, this is still a favorable matchup for the Providence Bruins. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 23-15-3 against the Panthers’ affiliate, including 11-7-2 in Springfield.

The Springfield club has been winning with excellent defense. They’ve only given up 41 goals in 18 games while scoring 55. This is a fantastic +14 goal differential. This also means they are only giving up 2.27 goals a game while scoring 3.05.

The Springfield Thunderbirds are 3-1 when leading after the first period. They are also 7-0 when leading after two periods. On the flip side, they are 1-2 when trailing after one period. They are also 1-5 when trailing after two periods. Providence needs to get ahead early on in the game to have the best chance at winning.

Sunday, November 24, 2019 (HOME) Wednesday, November 27, 2019 (AWAY) Providence Bruins vs. Hershey Bears

These will mark the third and fourth of six matchups the Providence Bruins and Hershey Bears will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins would win 2-1 in overtime, getting goals from Ryan Fitzgerald and Brendan Gaunce (OT).  Dan Vladar was excellent in net stopping 21 of 22 shots fired his way. The most recent matchup saw the Providence club fall 5-3, getting goals from Brendan Woods, Paul Carey, and Jakub Zboril. Kyle Keyser was okay in net stopping 28 of 33 shots he faced.

The Hershey Bears come into the game 8-6-2-2 (20 points) and 4-3-1-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. Providence has had success against the Washington affiliate going 15-9-1-1 over the five seasons. The team that has the best shot generation and suppression is going to win these games.

The Hershey Bears are 6-3-0-1 when they outshoot their opponents. They are also 2-3-2-1 when they are being outshot by their opponents. The Bruins, on the other hand, are 2-5-0-2 when they outshoot opponents and 5-2 when being outshot by opponents. These are more games that the Providence club should win. The Washington affiliate has a goal differential of minus-five. This means they’ve given up five more goals than they’ve scored. It is hard to sustain success like that.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka remains hot this week. The young center had a lot of expectations and excitement surrounding him to start the year, and he’s delivered. In 18 games this season, he’s netted six goals while dishing out seven assists for 13 total points. This includes netting five goals and dishing out two assists for seven total points in his last eight games. The OHL product is one of the few players carrying the Providence Bruins offense. Let’s hope we continue to find Studnicka in the hot category.

Alex Petrovic: Alex Petrovic is another player that’s spent most of the year on a hot streak. The veteran defenseman has been excellent during his first year in Providence. In 17 games this season, he’s netted two goals and dished out 11 assists for 13 total points. This includes netting one goal and dishing out six assists for seven total points in his last eight games. The former Edmonton Oiler is providing great veteran leadership for a young team.

Not

Cameron Hughes: Cameron Hughes has had a good season overall, but has run into a cold streak recently. The young forward even received his first callup to Boston and played in a game with the big club. In 18 games this season, he’s netted two goals and dished out five assists for seven total points. However, over his past five games, he hasn’t found the back of the net and dished out one assist for one total point. Let’s hope the cold streak subsides for the former Wisconsin Badger.

Oskar Steen: Oskar Steen started out pretty hot this season, but has since skated into a cold streak. The young forward was someone I was very high on, so the cold streak is rather disappointing. In 18 games, he’s netted two goals and dished out four assists for six total points. This includes no goals and two assists for two total points in his last 10 games. Let’s hope the native of Sweden can break out of this funk soon.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Samuel Asselin: Samuel Asselin is a name you may not recognize because he’s only played in two games for Providence this season. The young forward is someone you may want to get to know. In nine games down in the ECHL with the Atlanta Gladiators, he netted seven goals while dishing out seven assists for 14 total points. Asselin signed a deal with Providence after a fantastic season with Halifax in the QMJHL. In 68 games with the Mooseheads, he netted 48 goals and dished out 38 assists for 86 total points. BNG founder Mark Allred wrote about Asselin’s call up to the AHL here.

On The Blue Line

Jeremy Lauzon: Jeremy Lauzon is sometimes a forgotten prospect when it comes to the Bruins’ defense. The young defenseman has had a pretty good year with Providence thus far. In 18 games, he hasn’t found the back of the net, but he has dished out six assists for six total points. The QMJHL product has already reached his assist total from last season and is only one point away from last year’s point total in fewer games played. Look for him this weekend.

In Net

Max Lagace: Max Lagace has been excellent in his first season for the Providence Bruins. In 11 games played the veteran netminder, is 7-2-1 with a 2.10 GAA and a .934 save percentage. The former Vegas Golden Knight also has three shutouts on the season. Let’s hope he can keep it up.

The Providence Bruins have hit a bit of a cold streak as a team over their last 10 games. Despite this, they are still in a playoff spot early in the season. The Providence club is young but also talented. They’ve shown early on that they can bounce back from losses. This weekend is going to be tough. Three games in three days and four games total bunched together is difficult. The good news is that all four games are very winnable. If the Bruins can come out with six out of eight points, they’ll be in good shape. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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