By: Tim A. Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
Week 23 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 34-18-3-3 (74 points) and 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and Third in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is going off a week that saw them push their winning streak to eight games, with wins over Springfield and Hartford. The Bruins are playing excellent hockey. You won’t want to miss this weekend.
The hockey action starts out on Friday, March 6, 2020, when the Springfield Thunderbirds invade Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunk. The action continues on Saturday, March 7, 2020, when the Providence Bruins return the favor and take on the Springfield Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. Then on Sunday, March 8, 2020, the Hershey Bears come to Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Finally, the week wraps up on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, when the Providence Bruins make their way to Hartford, Connecticut to take on the Wolf Pack at the XL Center.
Friday, March 6, 2020 (HOME) and Saturday, March 7, 2020 (AWAY), Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds
The weekend series will be the 11 and 12th 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 fourth 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 fifth game saw the Bruins come out on top 4-3. Robert Lantosi, Jack Studnicka, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Pavel Shen were the Bruins goal scorers. Dan Vladar was on his game, making 31 stops out of 34 shots.
The sixth battle would prove to be a good one. The Bruins won 5-2. Trent Frederic, Brendan Gaunce, Ryan Fitzgerald, Anton Blidh, and Karson Kuhlman would score goals. Dan Vladar stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced in net. The seventh matchup would also be a good one.
The Bruins would win 5-3. Brendan Woods (2), Peter Cehlarik, Karson Kuhlman, and Anton Blidh would net goals. Max Lagace would go on to stop 21 of the 24 shots he faced in net. The eighth battle saw the Bruins lose 6-5 in OT. Paul Carey (2), Brendan Gaunce (2), and Peter Cehlarik had goals. Martin Ouellette stopped 24 of the 30 shots he faced.
The ninth matchup saw the Bruins win 7-4. Brendan Gaunce (2), Paul Carey (2), Jack Studnicka, Peter Cehlarik, and Robert Lantosi scored goals. Dan Vladar went on to stop 19 of the 24 shots fired his way. The most recent chapter saw the Bruins win 3-1. Peter Cehlarik, Jack Studnicka, and Urho Vaakanainen netted goals. Dan Vladar stopped 31 of the 32 shots fired his way.
The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 30-26-2 (62 points) and 4-6 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, this is still a favorable matchup for the Providence Bruins. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 30-15-5 against the Panthers’ affiliate.
The Thunderbirds have been winning with inconsistent play. They’ve given up 179 goals in 58 games while scoring 183. This is a plus-four goal differential. This also means they are giving up 3.08 goals a game while scoring 3.15. The Springfield club is 8-4 when leading after the first period. They are also 20-2 when leading after two periods. On the flip side, they are 6-10 when trailing after one period. They are also 2-19-1 when trailing after two periods.
To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 148 goals in 58 games while scoring 185. That is a +37 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.55 goals a game while scoring 3.18. The Providence club is 19-0 when leading after one period and 27-0 when leading after two. However, they are 3-11-1-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-14-1-2 when trailing after two. These two teams are evenly matched and getting and sustaining an early lead, are imperative to winning.
Sunday, March 8, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Hershey Bears (HOME)
The Sunday battle will mark the sixth and final matchup, the Providence Bruins and Hershey Bears will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins would win 2-1 in overtime. They had goals from Ryan Fitzgerald and Brendan Gaunce (OT). Dan Vladar was excellent in net stopping 21 of 22 shots fired his way.
The second matchup saw the Providence club fall 5-3. They received goals from Brendan Woods, Paul Carey, and Jakub Zboril. Kyle Keyser was okay in net stopping 28 of 33 shots he faced. The third meeting saw the Bruins win 6-3. Ryan Fitzgerald, Paul Carey, Urho Vaakanainen (2), Jack Studnicka, and Trent Frederic scored goals. Sean Bonar, who has since been sent to the ECHL, stopped 25 of 28 shots he faced.
The fourth battle saw the Bruins win 7-6 in a shootout. Brendan Woods, Joona Koppanen, Urho Vaakanainen, Paul Carey, Jakub Lauko, and Oskar Steen had goals. Max Lagace stopped 17 of the 23 shots that were fired his way. The netminder would also contribute with an assist on the scoresheet. The most recent chapter saw Bruins 3-2 in a shootout. Peter Cehlarik would score both goals. Max Lagace would stop 30 of the 32 shots he faced.
The Hershey Bears come into the game 35-18-3-3 (55 points) and 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for first in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference. Providence has had success against the Washington affiliate going 17-9-1-2 over the five seasons. Including 7-7-1 on the road. Hershey comes into the game with the second-best defense in the Eastern Conference just behind Providence. They’ve given up 153 goals in 59 games. That’s only giving up 2.59 goals a game.
The Hershey Bears are 28-8-1-1 when they outshoot their opponents. They are also 9-10-2-2 when they are being outshot by their opponents. The Bruins, on the other hand, are 18-13-3-2 when they outshoot opponents and 12-5-0-1 when being outshot by opponents. The Washington affiliate is 12-3-1-1 when leading after the first period and 22-0-1-1 when leading after the second. However, they are just 6-8-2-1 when trailing after the first and 3-13-0-1 when down after two.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (AWAY)
The Wednesday matchup will mark the ninth 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 matchup 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 sixth game saw the Providence Bruins lose 4-1. They got their lone goal from Joona Koppanen. Max Lagace had a rough night in net stopping 26 of 30 shots fired his way.
The seventh matchup saw the Bruins lose 3-1. Paul Carey had the Bruins lone goal. Dan Vladar stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced. The most recent battle saw the Bruins win 3-2. Oskar Steen, Jack Studnicka, and Brendan Gaunce would have goals. Max Lagace stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced.
The battle with the Hartford club is going to be challenging. The Rangers’ affiliate comes into the game 31-16-6-5 (73 points), including 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fourth 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 23-17-4-2, including 9-10-3-1 on the road. The Wolf Pack has seen success this season thanks to a stifling defense. They’ve given up only 161 goals in 58 games. That means they are only giving up 2.77 goals a game. This is the third-ranked defense in the Atlantic Division behind Providence and Hershey. Providence, on the other hand, has scored 185 goals in 58 games. That’s 3.18 goals a game. It’ll be a tough battle between two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not
Jack Studnicka: New week, same Studnicka. Jack Studnicka has been on fire over the last month of the season. The young forward continues to get better day in and day out. In 56 games, he’s netted 22 goals while dishing out 24 assists for 46 total points. This includes netting eight goals and dishing out 12 assists for 20 total points in his last 16 games. Studnicka has also registered a point in 12 of his last 16 games. If he keeps up his play, we will see Studnicka in Boston for good very soon.
Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce has been a force for a few weeks now. He’s been an excellent addition to the Providence club this season. In 48 games, he’s netted 17 goals and dished out 18 assists for 35 total points. The veteran forward is riding a nine-game point streak. In that time, he’s netted six goals while dishing out six assists for 12 total points. He’s played a major part in the Bruins’ current eight-game winning streak.
Alex Petrovic: Alex Petrovic is in his first season with the Providence Bruins. Overall, he’s been successful. In 50 games, he’s netted two goals while dishing out 18 assists for 20 total points. Despite these numbers, he’s only dished out one assist for one total point in his last 21 games. That’s an extreme cold streak. Let’s hope that Petrovic can put that behind him.
Ryan Fitzgerald: Ryan Fitzgerald has had an up and down season. The veteran forward has seen his stock fall over the last few seasons. In 57 games this season, he’s netted 12 goals and dished out 13 assists for 25 total points. This includes not registering a point over his past five games. Despite the cold streak, the Bruins as a whole are playing well. Other players have been able to take up the slack. Let’s hope that Fitzgerald finds his offensive game soon.
My Players To Watch This Weekend
Trent Frederic: Trent Frederic has had an excellent second full season in Providence. The young center has rounded out his game in all areas of the ice. In 55 games this season, he’s netted seven goals while dishing out 24 assists for 31 total points. This includes registering a point in four of his last five games. The former University of Wisconsin Badger has also played well against Springfield registering 10 points in 10 games.
On The Blue Line
Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen is another guy that’s had an up and down season for the Providence Bruins. In 50 games, he’s netted five goals while dishing out nine assists for 14 total points. The young defenseman has played well defensively, but his offensive game has been sporadic. Last weekend, he was able to break a four-game pointless streak with a goal. Look for him to come up big this weekend.
Max Lagace: Max Lagace has had an excellent first season with the Providence Bruins. The veteran goalie spent the last few seasons in the Vegas organization. Lagace is 21-7-3 this season, with a 2.38 GAA and a .918 save percentage. He’s also registered five shutouts. That ranks second in the AHL.
The Providence Bruins are riding an eight-game winning streak. They’ve played well against both teams they should beat, and teams ahead of them in the standings. The games this weekend will be important when it comes to playoff seeding. Hartford and Hershey are top teams in the East. Those two games will not be easy. I believe Providence can come out of the weekend with six of eight points. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!