(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim A Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week three of the AHL is upon us, and your Providence Bruins skate into it 2-1 (4 points). That record is good for second in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the American Hockey League. Our boys in black and gold are coming off a week that saw them lose to the Hartford Wolf Pack 4-0 before beating the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 5-3. The spoked P has three big games coming up that you won’t want to miss.

The hockey action kicks off on Friday, February 19, 2021, when the Providence Bruins travel to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to take on the Sound Tigers at Webster Bank Arena. The action continues on Sunday, February 21, 2021, when the Providence Bruins head to Hartford, Connecticut, to take on the Wolf Pack at the XL Center. Finally, the week wraps up on Thursday, February 25, 2021, when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers come to Marlborough, Massachusetts, to take on the Bruins at the New England Sports Complex. It’s going to be a week full of hockey you do not want to miss.

Friday, February 19, 2021 (AWAY) and Thursday, February 25, 2021 (HOME) Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers

The Friday and Thursday matchups will mark the third and fourth of 12 meetings the two rivals will have this season. The first battle saw the Bruins come away victorious 4-1. Rookie netminder Jeremy Swayman was superb in net for Providence. He stopped 26 of the 27 shots fired his way. The one goal he let up was a power-play goal that got deflected multiple times. Hard to fault him for that. Zach Senyshyn, Alex-Olivier Voyer, Samuel Asselin, and Robert Lantosi scored for the spoked P. For Voyer and Asselin; it was their first career AHL goals. Top prospect Jakub Lauko started hot with two assists in the game. Meanwhile, rookies Jack Achan and Nick Wolff recorded their first career AHL points. Each had an assist.

The second meeting was a little less one-sided, but the Providence Bruins still came out on top 5-3. Rookie goaltender Jeremy Swayman had a quality game stopping 17 of the 20 shots fired his way. Cooper Zech, Robert Lantosi, Jakub Lauko, Cameron Hughes, and Joona Koppanen scored for the Providence Bruins. Jakub Lauko and rookie Jack Achan would contribute two assists each on the scoresheet.

There are a few reasons why this matchup has been so one-sided this season. The primary reason why the Bruins have seen success is the special teams. The Sound Tigers have only managed one goal in five power-play opportunities. Providence has been able to refrain from taking dumb penalties, and when they do, it doesn’t hurt them. Meanwhile, our boys in black and gold have scored five goals in 11 power-play opportunities. The ability to capitalize on your opponent’s mistakes is crucial to victory. Providence can do that. The other main reason why the spoked P has seen success is they’ve outshot Bridgeport in both games. It’s easy to win when you control play. Look for both keys to play a big part this weekend.

Sunday, February 21, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (AWAY)

The Sunday matchup marks the second of 12 the two division foes will have this season. The first matchup is one the Providence Bruins would like to forget. They ended up getting shutout 4-0. Goalie Dan Vladar would stop 20 of the 22 shots fired his way. Our boys in black and gold tried to solve Hartford’s netminder, but they had all 25 shots on goal stopped. The Wolf Pack have given the Bruins trouble over the past five seasons. Providence is 21-17-1-1 during that time, including 9-9-1-1 on the road in Hartford.

Hartford’s defense has been exceptional to start the season. In two games, they’ve only given up two goals. The Providence Bruins will have to work hard to break down the defense and put pucks in the net. It will not be easy but, they can do it. They will need to continue to outshoot Hartford. Despite being 2-0 this season when being outshot, in 2019-2020, Hartford was 12-12-3-3 when their opponents had more shots on goal. If Providence can control play and get pucks towards the net, they will win this game.

My Players To Watch This Week

Up Front

Jakub Lauko: All of my players to watch are repeats but, this is because they are playing so well. Jakub Lauko is playing like a man on a mission. The young forward came to Providence last season with a lot of hype surrounding him. Injuries, unfortunately, hampered his season. So far this season, he looks as healthy as ever. He’s flying up and down the ice and making players around him better. In three games, he’s found the back of the net one time while dishing out four assists for five total points. Look for him this weekend.

On The Blue Line

Jack Ahcan: Jack Ahcan has had about as good of a first three games as you could hope for in a rookie. The young defenseman has been all over the ice in all zones. He’s shown off his speed, offensive, and defensive ability. In three games, he’s dished out three assists for three total points. Ahcan is showing us why the Bruins signed him out of St. Cloud St. University. Look for him this weekend.

In Net

Jeremy Swayman: Jeremy Swayman has looked great in his first two games with Providence. He’s shown flashes of what made him so good at the University of Maine. He’s a big body and is athletic in the crease. He stops pucks. He does give up rebounds, but he’s been doing better with that part of his game. So far, he’s 2-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .915 save percentage. He’s stopped 43 of the 47 shots he’s faced. I love what I see from the young netminder look for him this weekend.

The Providence Bruins have had a positive start to their season, winning two of their first three games. With the shortened season due to the pandemic, we will see them play Hartford and Bridgeport many times this year. I believe that Providence is better than both teams overall and that the upcoming stretch of games should be fruitful for our guys in black and gold. I hope everyone is enjoying the season and staying safe! Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!