By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
Week nine of the AHL is here, and the Providence Bruins skate into it 12-7-1-2 (27 points) and 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for second the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a fantastic week that saw them shutout the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 5-0. They would then fall to the Springfield Thunderbirds 5-4 in overtime before beating the Hershey Bears 6-3. They would then finish the week by beating the Hershey Bears again 7-6 in a shootout. The Bruins have two big games this weekend that you don’t want to miss.
The hockey action starts on Saturday, November 30, 2019, when the Providence Bruins invade Charlotte, North Carolina, to take on the defending Calder Cup Champion Charlotte Checkers at the Bojangles’ Coliseum. The action wraps up on Sunday, December 1, 2019, when the Providence Bruins take on the Charlotte Checkers again at the Biscuit in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Saturday, November 30, 2019 (AWAY) and Sunday, December 1, 2019 (AWAY) Providence Bruins vs. Charlotte Checkers
The weekend series between the Providence Bruins and Charlotte Checkers will be the first and second of eight meetings the two teams will have. The Providence club is 6-5-1 against the Checkers over the past five seasons. Last season, the Charlotte Checkers were dominant. They would beat the Bruins in four games in the first round of the playoffs on their way to their first Calder Cup Championship. This season has been a bit of a different story.
The Hurricanes’ affiliate skate into the match up 8-8-3 (19 points) and 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference. Something that led to their dominant season last year was their defense. They only gave up 189 goals while scoring 255. That means they had a goal differential of +66. This season has been the opposite. The Charlotte club on the year has scored 51 goals while giving 55. That’s a minus-four goal differential.
To put those numbers into perspective a little bit, the Providence Bruins have played in three more games this season, scoring 74 goals and giving up 62. That’s a +12 goal differential. It’s hard to sustain success when you give up more goals than you score. This is the main reason why both clubs seem to be heading in different directions. These two games being in Charlotte should also benefit the Bruins. The Carolina affiliate is 4-3-1 at home this season. While our boys in black and gold are 8-3-1-1 away from the Dunk this year. These are two very winnable games for the spoked P this weekend.
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not
Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka has been a permanent fixture in the hot category for a few weeks now, and that isn’t going to change. The young center has been excellent in his first full professional season. In 21 games for the Providence club, he’s netted nine goals while dishing out nine assists for 18 total points. The OHL product also has a five-game goal streak that has seen him net five goals while tallying three assists for eight total points. Going back even further, he’s registered a point in eight of his last 10 games. Studnicka earned himself a promotion this week with injuries and his play. In his first game against Montreal, he looked good while dishing out an assist for his first NHL point.
Trent Frederic: Trent Frederic finds himself in the hot category after a cold streak. The former Wisconsin Badger had a superb weekend putting together a four-game point streak. In those four games, he netted two goals and dished out two assists for four total points. In 19 games this year, the young forward has netted two goals and dished out seven assists for nine total points. Let’s hope he can keep up his hot play.
Pavel Shen: Pavel Shen has had a rough start to his first full professional season in North America. The young forward in 16 games, hasn’t found the back of the net and dished out two assists for two total points. Shen came to Providence after spending the beginning of his career in Russia, where he’s from. The good news is the former seventh-round pick is only 20, there is plenty of time for him to develop. Let’s hope he breaks out of his slump soon.
Cameron Hughes: Cameron Hughes has continued to be on a bit of a cold streak. The young forward has just two points, two assists in his last ten games played. Overall on the year, the former Wisconsin Badger has netted two goals and dished out six assists for eight total points in 22 games. This is two weeks in a row that Hughes finds himself in the not category. Let’s hope he’s able to break through this weekend against Charlotte.
My Players To Watch This Weekend
Ryan Fitzgerald: Ryan Fitzgerald has been on a bit of a hot streak himself. Over his last five games, he’s netted three goals and dished out two assists for five total points. In 22 games this year, the former Boston College Eagle has found the back of the net seven times while tallying five assists for 12 total points. In addition to those stats, in five games against Charlotte last season, Fitzgerald potted one goal and assisted on three others for four total points. With players moving up and down between Providence and Boston frequently, look for him to pick up the slack this weekend.
On The Blue Line
Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen has been excellent over the past few weeks for both Boston and Providence. It’s been the best stretch of play he’s had in his professional career. The young defenseman is coming off a weekend that in two games saw him net two goals while dishing out three assists for five total points. Thanks to his big weekend, the native of Finland would be named the CCM/AHL Player of the Week. My colleague here at BNG Carrie Young wrote about that honor here. He would follow up this honor by scoring a goal against Hershey Wednesday night. In 18 games this season, Urho has netted three goals and dished out five assists for eight total points. Look for him to continue his sizzling play.
Max Lagace: Max Lagace has been nothing short of excellent in his first season with Providence. With injuries to both Dan Vladar and Kyle Keyser, the veteran netminder has been a stabilizing presence in goal. On the year, he’s 9-2-2 with a 2.45 GAA and a .919 save percentage while also leading the league with four shutouts.
The Providence Bruins find themselves in a fantastic position to start the year. At this point in the season, teams usually have a good understanding of how the rest of the year will go. Our boys in black and gold currently find themselves comfortably in playoff contention. You should absolutely expect this moving forward. At the beginning of the season, I wrote that this team would be great. They are proving me right. I hope everyone enjoys the games this weekend and has an excellent holiday. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!