By: Nathan Strauss | Follow him on Twitter @NathanPStrauss
The Providence Bruins (1-2-1-1, 4 points) played back-to-back-to-back games this weekend, losing twice in regulation and once in overtime. After a tight contest on Friday night in Utica, in which Providence fell 2-1 in overtime, the P-Bruins were dismantled by Laval 4-0 on Saturday before giving up four unanswered goals to Springfield in a 4-1 loss on Sunday.
After a disappointing showing on Saturday, there were signs of improvement on Sunday as Head Coach Ryan Mougenel said that “he [couldn’t] fault our guys for their effort” in the weekend finale. Despite only scoring two goals across the three games, there were a handful of standouts worthy of recognition. Here are the three stars for Providence from this last weekend! (Stick taps to Oskar Steen, who picked up his first NHL point on Sunday after being recalled from Providence to fill in for the injured Anton Blidh.)
THIRD STAR: SAMUEL ASSELIN
The pickings were slim for this third-star spot, but Samuel Asselin made his case with a strong showing in the latter periods on Saturday. He showcased his ability to create danger, setting up one great chance with a backhand pass that could have resulted in a goal. Asselin recorded seven shots on net and took one penalty over the three games but played tough minutes and tried to create opportunities in games where chance creation was hard to come by. Asselin has plenty of goals in him (he scored a hat-trick against Hartford last year), and his willingness to try and put pucks on net should lead him to more contributions on the scoresheet in the coming weeks.
SECOND STAR: JACK AHCAN
Jack Ahcan is a name that will be familiar to many Bruins fans, as he made three appearances in the NHL last season when injuries mounted up for the NHL side. Ahcan has been the best defenseman this season for Providence, and this weekend he showed why he might earn himself more NHL minutes with a dynamic performance.
He scored his first goal of the year against Springfield on Sunday, creeping in from the blue line on a 5-on-3 power play and delivering a snipe, but his play with the puck is similar to that of Matt Grzelyck. A puck-moving defenseman, Ahcan showed his ability to pass but also create with the puck on his stick, multiple times pulling off dancing moves and carrying the puck all the way around the net. He has been the standout performer on the blue line for Providence, showing why the Bruins signed him to an ELC after his stellar career with St. Cloud State.
FIRST STAR: KYLE KEYSER
The Providence Bruins were blessed last year with not one but two bonafide NHL-quality goaltenders in the form of Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar. With Swayman now between the pipes at TD Garden and Vladar suiting up for Calgary, the Bruins goaltending depth was significantly different. Enter Kyle Keyser, who was expected to split time with the now-injured veteran Troy Grosenick. Despite facing the fourth-most shots in the entire league (106), he has a save percentage of .925 with a GAA of 2.05, not including his seven shootout saves on eight shootout attempts against.
On Friday night, he single-handedly kept the Bruins in the game, making several point-blank saves to keep the score tied. Sunday, he again was solid, and despite letting in three goals on 31 shots, his poise and rebound control was on display. Providence will look for better results this coming weekend, as they take on Charlotte at the Dunk on Friday before heading to Bridgeport on Saturday, and we might see Keyser excel again.