By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
Week 18 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 25-16-2-3 (55 points) and 5-3-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a week that saw them net three of four possible points. They would beat Lehigh Valley 4-3 before falling to Hershey in a shootout 3-2. Our boys in black and gold come out of the All-Star break with two games on the road.
The hockey action starts on Friday, January 31, 2020, when the Providence Bruins invade Binghamton, New York, to take on the Binghamton Devils at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. The action wraps on Saturday, February 1, 2020, when the Providence Bruins make their way to Syracuse, New York, to take on the Syracuse Crunch at the Upstate Medical University Arena at Onondaga County War Memorial.
Friday, January 31, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Binghamton Devils (AWAY)
The Friday night matchup marks the second and final of two that these two teams will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins would win 6-2. Paul Carey (2), Joona Koppanen (2), Cooper Zech, and Peter Cehlarik had goals. Max Lagace would stop 21 of the 23 shots he faced in net.
The Binghamton Devils have had a rough season. The New Jersey affiliate skates into the game 20-19-4 (44 points) and 8-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for seventh in the North Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference. Not only have the Devils had a bad year, but they’re also facing a Providence club that has their number over the past five seasons. Our boys in black and gold are 14-5-1-1 against the Binghamton club during that time, including 8-2 on the road.
Binghamton’s defense has really let them down this season. This is why the Binghamton club is at the bottom of the conference this season. The New Jersey affiliate has surrendered 141 goals in 43 games this year. That means they’re giving up a terrible 3.27 goals a game. In comparison, the Providence Bruins have let in 123 goals in 46 games this season. That’s a stingy 2.67 goals a game given up.
If that isn’t bad enough for the Devils, their offense isn’t great either. They’ve scored 126 goals in 43 games. That means they’re scoring 2.93 goals a game. They also have a goal differential of -15. The Bruins, on the other hand, have scored 144 goals in 46 games. That means they’re scoring 3.13 goals a game. The Providence club has a goal differential of +21. This is a game the Bruins should absolutely win.
Saturday, February 1, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Syracuse Crunch (AWAY)
The Saturday matchup will mark the second and final of two meetings the two teams will have. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 4-1. Trent Frederic would score the Providence club’s lone goal. Old friend Gemel Smith would score three for Syracuse. Dan Vladar would stop 20 of the 22 shots fired his way.
The Lightning affiliate skate into the matchup 20-19-3-3 (46 points) and 3-4-1-2 in their last 10 games. That’s good for sixth in the North Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference. The two clubs haven’t played each other much over the past five seasons. Providence holds a 3-4 record, including 1-2 on the road.
This has the makings of being a trap game for Providence. Even though the Syracuse club is out of a playoff spot, they’ve been a good team for the last few years. Special teams are keeping the Tampa Bay affiliate afloat. On the power play, they’ve scored 42 goals in 195 opportunities. That’s 21.5%, which is good for second in the North Division and third in the Eastern Conference. Their Penalty kill is also strong. They’ve given up 34 goals in 195 opportunities. That’s a stifling 82.6%, which is good for second in the North Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference.
The Providence Bruins’ penalty kill is also stellar. They’ve given up 32 goals in 196 opportunities. That’s 83.7%, which is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club also has a league-leading 14 shorthanded goals. The power play, on the other hand, is not good. They’ve scored 26 goals in 166 opportunities. That’s 15.7%, which is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference.
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not
Peter Cehlarik: Peter Cehlarik has been great so far this season for Providence. In 37 games, he’s netted 13 goals while dishing out 15 assists for 28 total points. This includes netting four goals and dishing out two assists for six total points in his last eight games. The 13 goals on the year eclipse his total from last season. Let’s hope the veteran forward can keep up his offensive game.
Trent Frederic: Trent Frederic has had an excellent season for Providence. In 43 games this season, he’s netted six goals while dishing out 19 assists for 25 total points. This includes netting two goals and dishing out six assists for eight total points in his last eight games. The 25 points on the year also match his total from last season. The former University of Wisconsin Badger has really rounded his entire game out this season. He’s playing well in every zone. Let’s hope he keeps it up.
Alex Petrovic: Alex Petrovic has had a good season overall, but has been struggling a bit as of late. In 39 games this season, he’s netted two goals while dishing out 17 assists for 19 total points. This includes dishing out two assists for two total points in his last 16 games. This is the veteran defenseman’s first season in Providence. Let’s hope the former Florida Panther can turn on his offensive game soon.
Jakub Zboril: Jakub Zboril has had an up and down season for Providence. In 42 games, he’s netted two goals while dishing out 10 assists for 12 total points. This includes not registering a point in his last six games. When in the QMJHL, Zboril had offensive upside scoring at .65 points per game (28-66-94 in 144 games). That hasn’t translated much in the AHL. The young defenseman is scoring at .30 points per game (10-40-50 in 166 games). Let’s hope that changes soon.
My Players To Watch This Weekend
Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka is arguably the top prospect in the Boston Bruins’ system. The young center has had an excellent first full professional season. In 44 games this season, he’s netted 14 goals while dishing out 16 assists for 30 total points. He also has five shorthanded goals on the season. Studnicka is coming off an excellent display at the All-Star game. Look for him to continue that confidence into the second half of the year.
On The Blue Line
Cooper Zech: Cooper Zech is a guy that came to Providence as college free agent after his freshman season at Ferris State. Coming into this season, I was really excited about his ability as a player. After a slow start in his first full professional season, he’s played well as of late. In 31 games, he’s netted one goal and dished out eight assists for nine total points. The young defenseman has a lot of offensive ability, look for him this weekend.
Dan Vladar: Dan Vladar has had an excellent season for Providence. The young netminder suffered an injury early in the year and has been a wall since returning. He’s 7-6 on the year with a 1.94 GAA and a .932 save percentage. Look for him to have a great weekend.
The Providence Bruins come out of the All-Star break third in the Atlantic Division. Three points ahead of rival Springfield, and four points ahead of Charlotte. They are currently riding a five-game point streak as they make a push for the playoffs. Only eight points separate a total of six teams battling for four playoff spots. It should be an exciting second half of the year. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!