By: Tim A. Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
Week 22 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 32-18-3-3 (70 points) and 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a week that saw them beat the Springfield Thunderbirds 7-4. They would then beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2-1 before beating the same Penguins’ team 6-2.
The Hockey action kicks off on Saturday, February 29, 2020, when the Providence Bruins travel to Springfield, Massachusetts, to take on the Springfield Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. The action wraps up on Sunday, March 1, 2020, when the Providence Bruins invade Hartford, Connecticut, to take on the Hartford Wolf Pack at the XL Center. It’s going to be an exciting weekend of hockey that you do not want to miss.
Saturday, February 29, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (AWAY)
The Saturday matchup will be the 10th of 14 these two teams will have. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 5-2, getting goals from Peter Cehlarik and Anders Bjork. Goalie Dan Vladar was subpar in net stopping 23 of the 28 shots fired his way.
The second game saw the Bruins losing 5-4 in overtime while getting goals from Robert Lantosi, Joona Koppanen, Scott Conway, and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Max Lagace stopped 30 of the 35 shots fired his way. The third meeting saw the Providence club come out on top 5-4 in overtime. They would get goals from Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Robert Lantosi, Peter Cehlarik, and Paul Carey (OT). Veteran netminder Max Lagace stopped 24 of the 28 shots he faced.
The fourth battle saw the Bruins come out on top 5-0. Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Jack Studnicka, Paul Carey, and Oskar Steen had the goals for Providence. Dan Vladar was out of this world in net stopping all 42 shots fired his way. The fifth game saw the Bruins come out on top 4-3. Robert Lantosi, Jack Studnicka, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Pavel Shen were the Bruins goal scorers. Dan Vladar was on his game, making 31 stops out of 34 shots.
The sixth battle would prove to be a good one. The Bruins won 5-2. Trent Frederic, Brendan Gaunce, Ryan Fitzgerald, Anton Blidh, and Karson Kuhlman would score goals. Dan Vladar stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced in net. The seventh matchup would also be a good one.
The Bruins would win 5-3. Brendan Woods (2), Peter Cehlarik, Karson Kuhlman, and Anton Blidh would net goals. Max Lagace would go on to stop 21 of the 24 shots he faced in net. The eighth battle saw the Bruins lose 6-5 in OT. Paul Carey (2), Brendan Gaunce (2), and Peter Cehlarik had goals. Martin Ouellette stopped 24 of the 30 shots he faced.
The most recent matchup saw the Bruins win 7-4. Brendan Gaunce (2), Paul Carey (2), Jack Studnicka, Peter Cehlarik, and Robert Lantosi scored goals. Dan Vladar went on to stop 19 of the 24 shots fired his way.
The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 30-24-2 (62 points) and 5-5 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, this is still a favorable matchup for the Providence Bruins. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 29-15-5 against the Panthers’ affiliate, including 14-7-3 on the road.
The Thunderbirds have been winning with excellent defense. They’ve only given up 170 goals in 56 games while scoring 179. This is a plus-nine goal differential. This also means they are only giving up 3.03 goals a game while scoring 3.19. The Springfield club is 8-3 when leading after the first period. They are also 20-2 when leading after two periods. On the flip side, they are 6-10 when trailing after one period. They are also 2-18-1 when trailing after two periods.
To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 145 goals in 56 games while scoring 179. That is a +34 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.58 goals a game while scoring 3.19. The Providence club is 18-0 when leading after one period and 27-0 when leading after two. However, they are 3-11-1-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-14-1-2 when trailing after two. These two teams are evenly matched and getting and sustaining an early lead, are imperative to winning.
Sunday, March 1, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (AWAY)
The Sunday matchup will mark the eighth of 10 meetings the two teams will have this year. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 2-1. Providence got their lone goal from Jack Studnicka. Goalie Kyle Keyser was up to the task in net stopping 23 of 25 shots that were fired his way. The second battle saw the Bruins win 4-3 in a shootout. They got goals from Scott Conway, Jack Studnicka, and Robert Lantosi. Max Lagace was able to stop 35 of the 38 shots he faced.
The third game saw the Bruins fall 5-2. They received goals from Ryan Fitzgerald and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Kyle Keyser was able to stop 24 of 28 shots he faced. The fourth battle saw the Providence Bruins fall 4-1. They got their lone goal from Cameron Hughes. Goalie Max Lagace stopped 18 of 22 shots he faced.
The fifth matchup was a bad one, the Bruins would lose 3-0. Goalie Max Lagace was up to the task in net stopping 18 of the 20 shots he faced. The sixth game saw the Providence Bruins lose 4-1. They got their lone goal from Joona Koppanen. Max Lagace had a rough night in net stopping 26 of 30 shots fired his way. The most recent matchup saw the Bruins lose 3-1. Paul Carey had the Bruins lone goal. Dan Vladar stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced.
The battle with the Hartford club is going to be challenging. The Rangers’ affiliate comes into the game 30-14-6-5 (71 points), including 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference. Even though it’ll be a tough game, there is hope for the Bruins.
Over the past five seasons, our boys in black and gold have gone 22-17-4-2, including 8-10-3-1 on the road. The Wolf Pack has seen success this season thanks to a stifling defense. They’ve given up only 152 goals in 55 games. That means they are only giving up 2.76 goals a game. Providence, on the other hand, has scored 179 goals in 56 games. That’s 3.19 goals a game. It’ll be a tough battle between two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not
Jack Studnicka: Studnicka has found himself in the hot category quite often this year. The young center has had an excellent first full season in Providence. He’s firmly grasped the title of the top prospect in the Bruins’ system. In 54 games this season, he’s netted 20 goals while dishing out 22 assists for 42 total points. This includes netting six goals while dishing out seven assists for 13 total points over his last 12 games. Let’s hope he keeps it up.
Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce is another guy that has been in the hot category a lot recently. He is also in his first season with the Providence Bruins. The veteran forward spent the beginning of his career in the Vancouver Canucks organization. In 46 games this season, he’s netted 16 goals while dishing out 17 assists for 33 total points. This includes netting five goals and dishing out six assists for 11 total points in his last nine games. Let’s hope he continues his hot streak.
Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen is one of the top Bruins prospects. Overall, he’s had a good season. His defensive ability has been strong a large part of the season. However, offensively the young defenseman has struggled of late. In 47 games this season, he’s netted four goals while dishing out nine assists for 13 total points. However, over his past 22 games, he’s dished out two assists for two total points. Let’s hope Vaakanainen can break out of his slump soon.
Cooper Zech: Cooper Zech is another guy in his first full season with the Providence Bruins. The young defenseman came to Providence after having an excellent freshman season at Ferris State University. Coming into this season, I was very high on Zech. He started off slow but recently had been playing well. In 39 games this year, he’s netted two goals while dishing out 12 assists for 14 total points. This includes netting one goal and dishing out two assists for three total point in his last six games.
My Players To Watch This Weekend
Peter Cehlarik: Peter Cehlarik is a guy who’s been leapfrogged by other forwards in the system. Despite this, the former third-round pick has played well this season. In 42 games, he’s netted 15 goals while dishing out 17 assists for 32 total points. The veteran forward has also played exceptionally well against Springfield. In nine games this year, he’s netted five goals while dishing out six assists for 11 total points. That means 36% of his points have come against the Thunderbirds. Look for him this weekend.
On The Blue Line
Steven Kampfer: Steven Kampfer has been a bit of an unsung hero in the Bruins’ organization the past few seasons. The veteran blueliner has been a valuable seventh defenseman in Boston. He’s also provided great leadership when in Providence for the younger players. In 16 games with Providence, he’s netted three goals and dished out five assists for eight total points. Look for him this weekend.
Max Lagace: Max Lagace has been excellent in his first full season in Providence. The veteran netminder has been a stabilizing force for the Bruins. On the season, he’s 20-7-3 with a 2.40 GAA and a .918 save percentage. He’s also recorded five shutouts on the year. Look for him this weekend.
The Providence Bruins are coming off an excellent week. They’ve been playing their best hockey as of late. This has come at the perfect time. They’ve been to put some points between themselves and the teams below them in the standings. This weekend is not going to be easy for the Providence club. Springfield is fighting for a playoff spot, and Hartford is ahead of them in the standings. Let’s hope our boys in black and gold can come out of the weekend with four points. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!