(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

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

Week four of the AHL season is here, and your Providence Bruins skate into it 4-1 (8 points). That is good for first the Atlantic Division and sixth in the American Hockey League. Our boys in black and gold are on a three-game winning streak that saw them beat Bridgeport 5-3 and 1-0 before beating Hartford 5-2. The spoked P has three games coming up you don’t want to miss. Also, don’t forget to catch their game later this afternoon!

The hockey action kicks off on Saturday, February 27, 2021, when the Providence Bruins head to Hartford, Connecticut, to take on the Wolf Pack at the XL Center. The action continues on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, when the Bruins take on the Wolf Pack again at the XL Center. The hard-hitting hockey action wraps up on Thursday, March 4, 2021, when the Providence Bruins return home to take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Saturday, February 27, 2021, and Tuesday, March 2, 2021, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (AWAY)

The Saturday and Tuesday matchups mark the third and fourth 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 the Hartford netminder, but they had all 25 shots on goal stopped.

The second matchup was much more fruitful for the Providence Bruins. They would win 5-2. Oskar Steen, Cameron Hughes, Brady Lyle, Joona Koppanen, and Zach Senyshyn would score for Providence. For Lyle, it was his first career AHL goal, and he would also get an assist in the game which, ended up being his first career AHL point. Rookie netminder Jeremy Swayman was superb in net stopping 34 of the 36 shots he faced.

The Hartford Wolf Pack come into the games 2-2 (4 points). That is good for second in the Atlantic Division and 15th in the AHL. These two games could end up being decided by special teams. Hartford has yet to surrender a power-play goal in 11 penalty-kill opportunities. Even though they’ve been spectacular on the PK, the Bruins’ PK is stout in its own right. Providence has only surrendered two power-play goals in 14 opportunities. Whoever can break through the tough PK may end up winning these games. Another thing to look at, each team is undefeated when leading after the second period. Securing a lead mid-game is essential to escaping with two points.

Thursday, March 4, 2021, Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (HOME)

The Thursday matchup will mark the fifth 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.

The third matchup was an absolute defensive slugfest. The Providence Bruins would go on to win 1-0. The game’s only goal came in the third period when Zach Senyshyn buried a pass from Paul Carey. Both goalies were playing out of their minds. Providence netminder Dan Vladar would stop all 24 shots he faced. On the other end of the ice, Bridgeport goalie Jakub Sharek stopped 36 of 37 shots in the loss. The fourth game in the season series comes later this afternoon!

As I am writing this, Bridgeport is currently 1-4 (2 points). That is good for third place in the Atlantic Division and 25th in the AHL. Over the past five seasons, these two division foes have played each other pretty evenly. Providence is 24-15-6-3 in that time frame. This season, however, has been a different story. Our boys in black and gold are a perfect 3-0 to start the year against the Sound Tigers. Defense and goaltending have been two of the biggest reasons why this has happened. In the three games, Bridgeport has given up ten goals, with the spoked P only giving up four. The play of the defense will continue to be critical in winning the remaining games versus each other.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Zach Senyshyn: Zach Senyshyn is the center of many debates amongst Bruins’ fans. Many believe he’s a bust because he hasn’t made a significant contribution at the NHL level yet. Others think he just needed time in the AHL, and he deserves a legitimate shot in Boston right now. I think he deserves a shot in Boston. The young forward has had a fantastic start to the year. In five games, he’s netted three goals while dishing out one assist for four total points. He’s stood out in all five games. He’s been one of Providence’s best players all season. Look for him this weekend.

On The Blue Line

Cooper Zech: Cooper Zech is in his second season with Providence. I was very high on Zech when he came to the Bruins last season. He started the year off slow, but as the season went on, he got the hang of the AHL. The young defenseman has had a superb start to his year. In five games, he’s netted out goal while dishing out two assists for three total points. He’s looked great on the ice in every zone. Look for him this weekend.

In Net

Dan Vladar: Dan Vladar is coming off his best professional season. In 2019-2020 he was 14-7-1 with a 1.79 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage. The young netminder has picked up this season where he left off last. He’s 1-1 with a 1.03 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage. Look for him this weekend.

The Providence Bruins have had as good a start to the season as they could hope. They are playing fast, exciting hockey. There are a few players that I am very excited to watch going forward. With the pandemic still raging, they’ve provided a welcomed escape from it all. I hope everyone is enjoying the season. Stay safe. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!