By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
Week 20 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 26-18-3-3 (58 points) and 4-3-2-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a tough week that saw them lose to Bridgeport 4-2, before losing to the same Sound Tigers’ club 2-1 in overtime. Our boys in black and gold have three games this weekend that they must win to maintain a playoff position.
The hockey action starts on Friday, February 14, 2020, when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins come to town to take on the Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The action continues on Sunday, February 16, 2020, when the Laval Rocket invades Providence, Rhode Island, to take on Bruins at the Dunk. The hockey fun wraps up on Monday, February 17, 2020, when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers come back town to take on the Providence club at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
Friday, February 14, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (HOME)
The Friday matchup marks the third of six these two teams will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins won 6-0. They got goals from Tommy Marchin (2), Pavel Shen, Robert Lantosi, Jack Studnicka, and Peter Cehlarik. Goalie Max Lagace was superb in net, stopping all 38 shots fired his way. The second game saw the Bruins get shutout 1-0. Dan Vladar stopped 19 of the 20 shots he faced.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins skate into the contest 25-18-3-5 (58 points) and 7-2-0-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence Bruins have had some success against the Pittsburgh affiliate over the past five years, going 13-7-3-3. This includes 7-1-1-3 in Providence.
This could be an opportunity for the Providence Bruins power-play to gain some momentum. The Penguins have taken 202 penalties in 51 games. That means they are giving up 3.98 penalties a game. They’ve also given up 37 goals out of those 199 penalty kill opportunities. That’s 81.7%, which is good for eighth in the Atlantic Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference. This seems like the perfect storm for the Providence club to gain confidence on the power-play.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is also excellent when they get an early lead and keep it. They are 12-2-1-1 when leading after the first period and 13-0-1-1 when they are leading after the second period. It should be a close game between these two division foes. This is a game the Providence Bruins need to win to maintain their playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
Sunday, February 16, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Laval Rocket (HOME)
The Sunday matchup is the fourth and final of four meetings between the two clubs. The Providence club lost the first meeting 5-4 in a shootout. They got goals from Peter Cehlarik (2), Paul Carey, and Brendan Gaunce. Goalie Max Lagace was less than stellar in net, turning away 14 of the 18 shots he faced.
Our boys in black and gold didn’t fare much better in the second meeting, losing 3-2. They got goals from Ryan Fitzgerald and Alex Petrovic. Goalie Max Lagace was better in net, stopping 27 of 30 shots fired his way. The most recent battle saw the Bruins fall 3-2 in a shootout. Peter Cehlarik and Paul Carey would score for Providence. Kyle Keyser would stop 25 of 27 shots he faced.
The Montreal affiliate is 23-20-5-2 (50 points) and 3-4-2-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the North Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, the Bruins have had trouble with Laval in the past. They’ve gone 2-2-0-3, including 1-1-0-1 at the Dunk. Even with the rough luck, I still believe our boys in black and gold should win this matchup.
Team defense and goaltending will be the two keys for Providence against Laval. The Laval club is giving up 3.12 goals a game. Their offense is scoring 2.92 goals a game. This means the Montreal Affiliate is giving up more goals than they’re scoring. Laval’s current goalies are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Cayden Primeau is having an excellent first season so far, going 12-7-3 with a 2.71 GAA and a save percentage of .899%. Keith Kinkaid is 3-7-2 with a 3.42 GAA and a save percentage of .877%.
To compare, the Bruins are giving up 2.68 goals a game. They’re also scoring 3.08 goals a game. This means our boys in black and gold are scoring .40 more goals a game than they’re giving up. Veteran goalie Max Lagace has had an excellent start, going 17-7-3 with a 2.48 GAA and a .916% save percentage with two shutouts. Dan Vladar has gone 7-7-1 with a 1.90 GAA and a .932% save percentage. This is another game Providence must win.
Monday, February 17, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (HOME)
The Monday match up will mark the 9th 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 third 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 fourth battle saw the Bruins win 5-0. Brendan Gaunce (2), Ryan Fitzgerald, Trent Frederic, and Jack Studnicka had goals. Max Lagace stopped all 17 shots fired his way. The fifth meeting saw the Bruins fall 2-1. Pavel Shen scored the Bruins lone goal. Dan Vladar would stop 24 of 26 shots he faced.
The sixth battle saw the Bruins win 3-1. Brett Ritchie (2), and Trent Frederic had goals. Max Lagace stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced. The seventh matchup saw the Bruins lose 4-2. Jack Studnicka and Brendan Woods had the Bruins’ goals. Max Lagace stopped seven of 10 shots he faced. Dan Vladar stopped all 14 shots he faced. The most recent battle saw the Bruins lose 2-1 in overtime. Zach Senyshyn scored the Bruins lone goal. Dan Vladar stopped 25 of 27 shots fired his way.
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers provide a favorable matchup for the Providence club. The Bridgeport club comes into the weekend 18-27-4-1 (41 points) and 5-5 in their last 10 games. This is good for eighth in the Atlantic Division and 16th in the Eastern Conference. Furthermore, the Bruins are 25-19-7-3 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 2-14-2 when trailing after one and 1-19-2 when trailing after two. To add insult to injury, the Bridgeport club in 50 games has only scored 110 goals while giving up 159. Not only is this a horrendous -49 goal differential, but they’re only scoring 2.20 goals a game while giving up 3.18. They are giving up a full goal more than they are scoring. This isn’t a winning formula.
To compare, the Providence Bruins are 14-0 when leading after one period and 21-0 when leading after two periods. They’ve also scored 154 goals while giving up only 134 in 50 games. That means, not only do they have a +20 goal differential, but they are scoring 3.08 goals a game while only giving up 2.68. These are games that Providence must win. Bridgeport is not a good club at all.
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not
Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka has been mentioned a lot this season. With good reason. The young forward is one of the top prospects in the Bruins’ system. He’s having an excellent first full professional season. In 48 games, he’s netted 18 goals while dishing out 18 assists for 36 total points. This includes netting four goals and dishing out six assists for 10 total points in his last eight games. Let’s hope Studnicka keeps his stellar play up.
Oskar Steen: Oskar Steen is a guy that had a lot of excitement surrounding him coming into the year. The young forward had an excellent season in Sweden last year. He was looking to build on that in Providence. Though he started out slow, in 48 games, he’s netted six goals and dished out 10 assists for 16 total points. This includes netting two goals and dishing out three assists for five total points in his last seven games. Let’s hope he keeps it up.
Robert Lantosi: Robert Lantosi is another player in his first season with Providence. He came to the Bruins after spending the beginning of his career in his home country of Slovakia. In 42 games, he’s netting 10 goals while dishing out 17 assists for 27 total points. Despite those numbers, he’s only dished out two assists for two total points in his last six games. I have faith that this is nothing more than a minor bump in the road for Lantosi.
Paul Carey: The Bruins’ Captain has been excellent overall this season. In 49 games, he’s netted 17 goals while dishing out 15 assists for 32 total points. Despite this, he’s dished out two assists for two total points in his last seven games. The former Boston College Eagle will hopefully break out of this cold streak soon.
My Players To Watch This Weekend
Zach Senyshyn: Zach Senyshyn has been the cause of many different arguments amongst Bruins’ fans. The young forward was playing well though points didn’t seem to indicate that. He was called up to Boston and then injured once in Boston. This was unfortunate because he was playing well with the big club. Since returning from injury, he’s played really well. In 30 games this season, he’s netted four goals while dishing out four assists for eight total points. Look for him this weekend.
On The Blue Line
Cooper Zech: Cooper Zech is another player in his first full season with Providence. The young defenseman was someone I was extremely excited about. Though he started out slow, the Ferris State University Alum has played well recently. In 35 games, he’s netted one goal while dishing out 10 assists for 11 total points. Look for him to have a big weekend.
Dan Vladar: Dan Vladar is having an excellent season for Providence. The young netminder started off slow before getting injured. Since returning from injury, he’s played on another level. He’s 7-7-1 on the year with a 1.90 GAA and a .932 save percentage. Look for him this weekend.
The Providence Bruins coming off a tough weekend where they lost two games against the worst team in the AHL. They are barely clinging to the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They will need to win all three games this weekend to build a cushion between them and the teams below them. The Providence club is better than each team they are playing. They will need to assert their dominance this weekend and come away with six points. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!