By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
It’s week 13 of the AHL season, and the Providence Bruins are 19-11-1-2 (41 Points) and 6-4 in their last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a tough week that saw them get shutout by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 1-0 and then be shoutout again by Hartford 3-0. After the holiday, the team has two games on the road that you don’t want to miss!
The hockey action starts on Friday, December 27, 2019, when the Providence Bruins invade Springfield, Massachusetts, to take on the Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. The action concludes on Saturday, December 28. 2019, when the Providence Bruins make their way to Hartford, Connecticut, to take on the Wolf Pack at the XL Center.
Friday, December 27, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (AWAY)
The Friday night matchup will be the fifth of 14 these two teams will have. 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 second game saw the Bruins losing 5-4 in overtime while getting goals from Robert Lantosi, Joona Koppanen, Scott Conway, and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Max Lagace stopped 30 of the 35 shots fired his way.
The third meeting saw the Providence club come out on top 5-4 in overtime. They would get goals from Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Robert Lantosi, Peter Cehlarik, and Paul Carey (OT). Veteran netminder Max Lagace stopped 24 of the 28 shots he faced. The most recent battle saw the Bruins come out on top 5-0. Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Jack Studnicka, Paul Carey, and Oskar Steen had the goals for Providence. Dan Vladar was out of this world in net stopping all 42 shots fired his way.
The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 16-15-2 (34 points) and 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, this is still a favorable matchup for the Providence Bruins. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 25-15-4 against the Panthers’ affiliate, including 12-7-3 in Springfield.
The Thunderbirds have been winning with excellent defense. They’ve only given up 91 goals in 33 games while scoring 95. This is a plus-four goal differential. This also means they are only giving up 2.75 goals a game while scoring 2.87. The Springfield club is 4-2 when leading after the first period. They are also 9-2 when leading after two periods. On the flip side, they are 3-6 when trailing after one period. They are also 1-10-1 when trailing after two periods.
To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 83 goals in 33 games while scoring 109. That is a +26 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.51 goals a game while scoring 3.30. The Providence club is 10-0 when leading after one period and 15-0 when leading after two. However, they are 2-6-1-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-8-0-1 when trailing after two. These two teams are evenly matched and getting and sustaining an early lead, are imperative to winning.
Saturday, December 28, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (AWAY)
The Saturday matchup will mark the sixth of 10 meetings the two teams will have this year. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 2-1. Providence got their lone goal from Jack Studnicka. Goalie Kyle Keyser was up to the task in net stopping 23 of 25 shots that were fired his way. The second battle saw the Bruins win 4-3 in a shootout. They got goals from Scott Conway, Jack Studnicka, and Robert Lantosi. Max Lagace was able to stop 35 of the 38 shots he faced.
The third game saw the Bruins fall 5-2. They received goals from Ryan Fitzgerald and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Kyle Keyser was able to stop 24 of 28 shots he faced. The fourth battle saw the Providence Bruins fall 4-1. They got their lone goal from Cameron Hughes. Goalie Max Lagace stopped 18 of 22 shots he faced. The fifth battle was a bad one, the Bruins would lose 3-0. Goalie Max Lagace was up to the task in net stopping 18 of the 20 shots he faced.
The battle with the Hartford club is going to be challenging. The Rangers’ affiliate comes into the game 17-7-2-5 (41 points), including 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for first in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference. Even though it’ll be a tough game, there is hope for the Bruins.
Over the past five seasons, our boys in black and gold have gone 22-15-4-2, including 8-9-3-1 at the XL Center. The Wolf Pack has seen success this season thanks to a stifling defense. They’ve given up only 81 goals in 31 games. That means they are only giving up 2.61 goals a game. Providence, on the other hand, has scored 109 goals in 33 games. That’s 3.30 goals a game. It’ll be a great battle between the two teams.
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not
Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka has been excellent for the Providence Bruins this season. It’s his first full season in Providence, and while there have been some growing pains, on the whole, the young center has developed nicely. In 31 games this season, he’s netted 13 goals while also dishing out 12 assists for 25 total points. This includes three goals and one assist for four total points in his last five games.
Robert Lantosi: Robert Lantosi is another player who is in his first full season in Providence. In 29 games, the young forward has eight goals while dishing out 13 assists for 21 total points. Lantosi came to Providence after signing an AHL deal in the summer. He spent most of his career in Slovakia before coming to the Bruins. He’s someone who could battle for a two-way NHL deal if he keeps up his play.
Cooper Zech: Cooper Zech is another person in his first full season with the Providence Bruins. He came to the Providence club after signing an AHL contract last year. In 21 games this year, he’s netted one goal while dishing out five assists for six total points. After a stellar weekend that saw him grab five points, he’s come back down to earth and hasn’t registered a point in his last four games. Let’s hope he gets back to his scoring ways.
Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce has had an up and down season for Providence this year. In 23 games this season, he’s netted seven goals and dished out seven assists for 14 total points. This overall is great. However, over his past seven games, the veteran forward has only registered one point an assist. Let’s hope he gets back to scoring soon.
My Players To Watch This Weekend
Paul Carey: Paul Carey has been excellent in his first season as the Providence Bruins’ Captain. In 32 games, the veteran forward has netted 14 goals and dished out 11 assists for 25 total points. The former Boston College Eagle has also provided valuable leadership to a young team. Look for him to continue that this week.
On The Blue Line
Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen has been very good overall for Providence. After a rough stretch to start the year, he was called up to Boston because of injury. Since returning to Providence, he’s been excellent both offensively and defensively. Overall on the year, the young defenseman has netted four goals and dished out seven assists for 11 total points in 29 games. Look for him this weekend.
Max Lagace: Max Lagace has been excellent in his first season with Providence. He holds a 13-4-2 record with a 2.36 GAA and a .919 save percentage. The veteran netminder has also recorded a league-leading five shutouts. Lagace has provided leadership for the young goalies as well.
The Providence Bruins find themselves in a favorable position coming out of the holiday. They are in a playoff spot comfortably. If the Providence club continues playing the way they have been, they will make a strong push towards the post-season after the New Year. I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday and has a great New Year. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!