[Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr]

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

Week 23 of the AHL season is here, and the Providence Bruins skate into it 35-14-8-2 (80 points). That is good for first in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference. Our boys in black and gold are coming off a week that saw them lose to Springfield 6-3 before defeating Hershey 3-2 and 5-3 and beating Syracuse 4-2. The Providence Bruins have two division games this weekend that you will not want to miss.

The hockey action starts on Saturday, March 18, 2023, when the Providence Bruins travel to Springfield, Massachusetts, to take on the Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. The action wraps Sunday, March 19, 2023, when the Springfield Thunderbirds travel to Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Amica Mutual Pavillion. Do not miss the action.

Saturday, March 18, 2023, and Sunday, March 19, 2023, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (AWAY, HOME)

The weekend series marks the ninth and tenth games of 12 that the two teams will have this season. The first battle saw the Bruins win 4-3. Georgii Merkulov, Josiah Didier, Vinni Lettieri, and Luke Toporowski scored for Providence.

The second battle saw the Bruins win 4-3 in a shootout. John Beecher, Luke Toporowski, and Vinni Lettieri netted goals for Providence.

Providence lost the third matchup 3-2 in a shootout. Vinni Lettieri found the back of the net for the Bruins.

The Bruins won the fourth matchup 3-2. Fabian Lysell, Luke Toporowski, and Joey Abate scored for Providence.

The fifth battle saw the Providence Bruins win 2-1. Vinni Lettieri and Justin Brazeau scored goals for Providence.

The sixth game saw the Bruins win 6-2. Chris Wagner (2), Georgii Merkulov, Fabian Lysell, Eduards Tralmaks, and Marc McLaughlin scored goals for Providence.

The seventh game saw the Bruins fall 3-2. Georgii Merkulov and Justin Brazeau scored goals for Providence.

The eighth game of the season series saw the Bruins fall 6-3. Oskar Steen (2) and Dan Renouf scored goals for Providence.

The Springfield Thunderbirds skate into the matchup 31-21-2-4 (68 points). That is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. The St. Louis affiliate went to the Calder Cup Finals in 2021-2022, losing to the Chicago Wolves. Springfield scores 3.08 goals a game while giving up 2.84. The Providence Bruins net 3.00 goals a game while giving up 2.74. The Providence Bruins had a 5-5-1-1 record against Springfield last season. Over the past five years, they have a 25-15-4-2 record, including 14-7-1-1 on the road. These rivalry games are usually chippy affairs. Expect physical games between two teams who dislike each other.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Vinni Lettieri returned to the Providence lineup, and it was evident that the team missed his presence. In his second game back from injury, Lettieri netted three goals while scoring five total points. In 43 games this season, the veteran forward has scored 19 goals while dishing out 23 assists for 42 total points. Look for him this weekend.

Connor Carrick is playing his first season with the Providence Bruins. The veteran defenseman has NHL experience, most notably with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and spent all of 2021-2022 with the Charlotte Checkers. In 50 games, Carrick has five goals while dishing out 27 assists for 32 total points. He’s done all of that while playing superb defense for Providence. Look for him this weekend.

Brandon Bussi is having an excellent rookie season with the Providence Bruins. In 26 games, Bussi is 17-4-4 with a 2.42 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. He also made an AHL All-Star appearance this season. Look for him this weekend.

The Providence Bruins continue to roll as we get closer to the playoffs. They’ve positioned themselves nicely for a deep playoff run this season. I am excited to see what the rest of the season brings. I hope everyone enjoys the games this weekend. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. GO BRUINS!