By: Nathan Strauss | Follow him on Twitter @NathanPStrauss
The AHL today announced the postponement of three games for the Providence Bruins as a result of a Covid outbreak in the Providence locker room. Per Mark Divver, the P-Bruins have double-digit cases, which forced the team into a complete shutdown. With the AHL’s grueling schedule of long bus rides and close-quarters locker rooms, the spread can be rampant, and Providence is not the only team to be hit with positive cases. The Bridgeport Islanders are also in a shutdown, while Hershey and Hartford both have ten or more cases too.
Providence was slated to host Hartford on Friday, December 3rd, but that game has since been moved to Monday, April 4th. Similarly, the P-Bruins’ road trip to Bridgeport scheduled for this Saturday has been pushed to December 15th, with both teams in a league-enforced shutdown. Lastly, the previously scheduled game at the Dunk on Sunday against Utica has been rescheduled for Monday, January 10th.
The shutdown comes at an inopportune time for both Providence and Boston alike. With Brad Marchand suspended and Anton Blidh unavailable after being boarded by Vancouver’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the Bruins are running light on bodies. This was amplified after the reports emerged that Jake DeBrusk requested a trade, as the Edmonton native remained in the lineup Tuesday against Detroit despite his agent confirming that the winger is looking to move on. Had it not been for the Covid shutdown, players like Oskar Steen or Jakob Lauko could have seen ice time at the NHL level.
For Providence, this stoppage halts the momentum which they had steadily built across the month of November. Last weekend, the P-Bruins picked up wins over Bridgeport and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, with a Zach Senyshyn hat-trick capping off an excellent month. Providence is up to third place in the Atlantic Division, despite having the fewest games played of the eight teams.
Providence has been led by Oskar Steen, whose 13 points are tied for tops on the team despite only appearing in 12 games. With his excellent speed and crafty hands, Steen could likely be in line for a mid-season recall to TD Garden. AHL veteran Steven Fogarty has also chipped in 13 points while appearing in all 17 games. Former first-round pick Zach Senyshyn leads the team in goals with eight (including two hat tricks), adding four assists as well. The top-scoring defenseman is Jack Ahcan, whose two goals and eight assists make him the only member of the blue line to notch more than five points to this point.
In the crease, Providence has been backstopped primarily by Kyle Keyser, who, after missing a handful of games due to injury, has put up a .910 save percentage while stopping a number of shootout attempts. NHL veteran Troy Grosenick has recently entered the fold, winning two of his three starts since returning from injury with a save percentage of .922.
The next game on Providence’s schedule is Friday, December 10th, against Belleville at home, with Bruins legend Andy Brickley in attendance and signing autographs. Hopefully, the shutdown will have its intended result, and the P-Bruins will be able to get back in action and pick up where they left off.