Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 23 Recap

( Photo Credit: Taylor Trebotte / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Atlanta Gladiators secured five points from three games in a what proved to be a good week for the Duluth based team. With 10 games remaining, the Glads are now level on points with the South Carolina Stingrays for the final playoff spot. Every game is crucial, and the Gladiators are rising to the challenge.

The South Carolina Stingrays were Atlanta’s first opponent of the week. After an impressive run of games, the Glads started Sean Bonar in net. With both teams fighting for the final playoff spot, the pressure was intense. South Carolina scored first, Mason Mitchell put the visitors ahead with the only goal of the first period. Midway through the second, the Stingrays doubled their lead after Jordan Samuel-Thomas beat Bonar. Four minutes later, the ‘Rays were three goals ahead, after Mitchell snagged his second goal of the night. Atlanta responded immediately, forward Brett McKenzie pulled one back for the hosts, assisted by Zach Malatesta. 3-1 the score after two.

Despite out-shooting South Carolina in the first two periods, the Gladiators had a lot of work to do in the third. It took five minutes for Matt Lane to get Atlanta within one, he was assisted by Zach Malatesta and Nolan LaPorte. Atlanta continued to pressure the Stingrays, and it finally paid off. Nick Bligh scored to tie the game at 3-3, Derek Nesbitt and Olivier Galipeau combined for the assists. The game went into overtime, and after a tense five minutes, the score remained tied. Both teams had to prepare for a shootout. Andrew Cherniwchan scored for the Stingrays, and Brett McKenzie found the net for Atlanta to make it 1-1 after three attempts each. After a series of misses from both teams, Alex Overhardt scored in the 11th round of the shootout before a save from Bonar secured a stunning comeback win for the Gladiators.

Game two saw the Florida Everblades come to town for the final time in the regular season. Following his heroics in the shootout, Atlanta stuck with Bonar as the starting goaltender. He was tested early by a Florida power play, but the Glads stood firm. The home team took the lead midway through the first period, with a goal from Nolan LaPorte, Matt Lane, and Zach Malatesta was credited with the helpers. The Gladiators held onto their one-goal lead until the second period, when Shane Walsh leveled for Florida. Neither team could find a second goal, even after overtime, so for the second game in a row, a shootout would determine the winner. Blake Winiecki beat Bonar to win the game for Florida, but the Glads came away with a crucial point.

The Glads took on the Norfolk Admirals for the third and final game of the week. After a string of good performances, Bonar started again. The game remained scoreless until the second period when LaPorte put the Glads ahead with an assist from John Furgele. Norfolk leveled the score with a power-play goal from Domenic Alberga, ending the second period 1-1. Both teams had chances to take the lead in the third, but it was Atlanta that pulled ahead. Nick Bligh scored the game-winning goal, assisted by Derek Nesbitt. 2-1 the final score, capping off a solid week for the Gladiators.

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 23 Recap

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By Sam Fryman | Follow me on Twitter @sfryman20

Friday, March 15th, 2019, Providence Bruins Vs. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Road)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

Since its founding, Pennsylvania has always been known as the Keystone State. Beginning on Friday, the Bruins hoped two key victories against teams in that state would offer them the key to a playoff berth. First up were the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, a team sitting five points behind Providence after just three wins in their last ten games. The Bruins also looked much different than last weekend with Connor Clifton, Trent Frederic, and Paul Carey all up with the big club and five more players out with injuries.

First Period:

The action started just 47 seconds as Zach Senyshyn got a lucky deflection right in front of Alex Lyon. The first shot was set up by Karson Kuhlman who continues his consistent offensive play for Providence. Not even a minute later, the oldest member of Bruins proved he is still a force to be reckoned with. Lee Stempniak made it two goals on two shots and the Phantoms were quickly back on their heels. For the rest of the period, Dan Vladar came up with some huge saves, including a pair of robberies on Mike Vecchione and Justin Bailey.

Score: 2-0 Bruins

Second Period:

Special teams became the story for both Providence and Lehigh Valley as the game got to its late stages. After David Kase out the Phantoms on the board just 56 seconds in the second period with a power play, Lee Stempniak continued his brilliant night early in the third. From a good steal by Karson Kuhlman, Stempniak got the puck unchallenged and easily found the back of the net.

Score: 2-1 Bruins

Third Period:

Two minutes later, the ever aggressive Tyrell Goulbourne got sent to the box for roughing and Gemel Smith made him pay. The Bruins forward picked up his 13th goal of the season to give Providence a 4-1 lead.

As the minutes ticked down in regulation, Lehigh Valley applied a highly aggressive strategy by pulling goalie Alex Lyon with over seven minutes remaining to try to stage a comeback. The plan backfired as Peter Cehlarik put one into the empty net. A couple of garbage time goals from Connor Bunnaman and Greg Carey gave the Phantoms a glimmer of hope, but in the end, it wasn’t enough as Providence walked away with a 5-3 victory to begin the weekend.

Final: 5-3 Bruins

Saturday, March 16th, 2019, Providence Bruins Vs. The Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

First Period:

Coming off of a solid win against the Phantoms, the Bruins went a little further up the Northeast Extension to take on the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins. Through the first period of play, there were no goals to talk about although the Bruins held Wilkes Barre/Scranton to just five total shots in the period, many of them coming late.

Score: 0-0

Second Period:

The even battle was finally put to an end late in the second period with Jake Lucchini netting his first career AHL goal. He waited at the side of the net as a great two on one was started by Jimmy Hayes. Before that tally Zane McIntyre had been having one of his strongest periods of the season, turning aside many close chances from the Penguins.

Score: 1-0 Penguins

Third Period:

At the halfway point of the third period, the hard checking pressure for the Bruins finally paid off as they tied the game at one. Tristan Jarry was caught out of position and Ryan Fitzgerald found the puck on the doorstep. A three on two rush got the offense going for Providence and Karson Kuhlman was able to send in a deadly slap shot for his teammates to collect. Jakub Zboril thought he might have had the go-ahead goal with two and a half minutes to go but Jarry denied him with an aggressive, spinning save to keep the game tied.

Score: 1-1

Overtime:

Adam Johnson ended the game just over a minute into the overtime period for Wilkes Barre/Scranton. He lifted a superb forehand to backhand shot top shelf over Zane McIntyre to give the Penguins their 30th win of the season. The Bruins have one more game on the road against the Laval Rocket before returning home on Wednesday, March 22nd against the Belleville Senators. Every point will be on the line and we’ll recap every game!

Final: 2-1 Penguins

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Bruins Assign Trent Frederic To Providence

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(Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Just before puck-drop for Saturday night’s game versus the Columbus Blue Jackets, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced that the team assigned Trent Frederic to the Providence Bruins, Boston’s AHL-affiliate. The announcement comes after Frederic went minus-3 in the Bruins’ last two games since being recalled from Providence.

Frederic has suited up in a total of 13 NHL games on his career, all this season. In those contests, the St. Louis, Missouri, native has compiled 17 shots, a minus-4 rating, and five penalty minutes (a fighting major). In fact, that fighting major came in his NHL debut as a result of this heavyweight bout with Brandon Tanev:

The 6-foot-2, 203-pound center spent two seasons at the University of Wisconsin after the Bruins drafted him 29th-overall in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. During his time at Wisconsin, Frederic amassed 65 points (32G, 33A) in 66 total games played.

This season with Providence, his first full professional season, Frederic has totals of 11/9/20 in 45 games played to go along with a plus-4 rating and 65 penalty minutes. After joining Providence towards the end of last season, Frederic totaled five goals and three assists for eight points as well as a plus-3 rating and 11 penalty minutes in 11 regular season games before adding an assist in three playoff games. The 21-year-old will look to continue what has been a strong developmental year, joining a P-Bruins squad in a heated battle for playoff position.

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What Do The Bruins Gain With Carey/Frederic Over Cehlarik?

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Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter: @CSthinks

I will not sit here and pretend to be some kind of savant who has superior knowledge over NHL GMs when it comes to the business side of hockey. The extent of my knowledge on the business side of an NHL team could be summed up by the phrase, “pay the better guys more money.”

With that out of the way, my focus shifts to the prolonged influx of Providence Bruins that have been gracing the lineup of their older brother (or sister) team over the course of this season. Names like Vaakanainen, Clifton, Frederic, Lauzon, Kuhlman, Forsbacka-Karlsson, Zboril, Bjork, Smith, Stempniak, and now Carey, have all found shelter from the AHL storm for at least a few nights this season. Some have shown more promise than others. Some have demonstrated that they are not yet ready for the NHL. Some showed the raw talent that has yet to be harnessed into an effective system within the confines of a team.

And almost all of them have demonstrated that their names are difficult to pronounce. Kudos to Gemel Smith, Connor Clifton, and Paul Carey for making it easy on me.

Importance

With the Bruins settled fairly squarely in a playoff spot barring any sort of colossal blunder to finish the season, the quest for home ice is one that cannot, in my opinion, be under-emphasized. Currently, the Bruins are the meat in the Tampa/Toronto sandwich (there are so many better ways to say that, but I’m very hungry). This group of three teams (TB, BOS, TOR) currently sits as three of the top five teams in the entire league.

With the notion that Toronto will almost certainly be the first-round matchup for the Black and Gold, a rational hockey observer will take note of how things have changed since last season’s matchup with the Leafs. Matthews and Marner are both having career years, and John Tavares has brought even more offensive punch to the lineup. With Morgan Reilly gaining another year’s experience, Toronto is a better team than they were last year. This makes home ice all the more important for the Bruins to secure.

This doesn’t happen without a strong finish—something that will require a lineup that is most conducive to effective and sustained play. As things look now, the influx of players from Providence– most recently Trent Frederic and Paul Carey (along with Connor Clifton)– constantly joining then leaving the Bruins does not seem most conducive to success down the stretch for the team.

 

Win Now.

The Bruins have a team that is good enough to pursue a “win now” approach. While many might rightfully slot Tampa as a stronger team entering the playoffs, it is well within the realm of possibilities that Boston squeaks out a win in a seven-game series against the Bolts. I mean, this is sports. Don’t be ignorant.

For a team that needs to place significant importance on maintained success heading into the postseason, their lineup is changing far too much. Spotty, three-game stints for more than half a dozen AHL-ers might be something that is more fathomable when the playoffs and home ice is so close within reach. If the Bruins were out of playoff contention, then, by all means, I might say “go nuts” and maybe even support a scenario where the P-Bruins and the big club even switch jerseys and have a fun little time! But that’s not the case. Also sounds like a decent idea for a screenplay. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.

Consistency.

Anyone who has played hockey at a high level understands that chemistry, consistency, and familiarity with those around you are all conducive to enhanced on-ice performance. With the exception of Karson Kuhlman and Cehlarik, no call-up from Providence has been able to quickly gel with the line-mates with whom they are placed. This speaks volumes about the versatility of each of these two.

The events of the past few days have defied logic in the sense that the Bruins are now relying on players unfamiliar with the Bruins personnel and style of play to join the squad and move things forward. Chemistry is fostered through players being given sufficient time to learn one another’s play styles. Sure, it would be awesome if everyone knew one another’s tendencies on the ice after just shaking hands. But to my knowledge, we don’t have the technology to make that happen yet. And thus, that is not how things work.

Peter Cehlarik got sent down to Providence after Bruce Cassidy made him put on his seatbelt, securing him to the bench, for the third time in less than two weeks. Cehlarik was afforded a bafflingly short leash, and by all accounts actually played a strong style of hockey when he was allowed to be on the ice. He found early chemistry with David Krejci, and more recently proved to be a compatible linemate for newcomer Charlie Coyle amidst an absolute jumble of forwards thanks to injuries. Coyle and Cehlarik strung together shifts that consisted of sustained possessions, offensive zone time, and that resulted in offensive zone face-offs. While not a whole lot of scoring resulted from the play of these two, it’s difficult to produce when you are secured to the bench.

While the handling of Cehlarik is a touch bothersome, it has been clear that of the AHL call-ups this season, he has been far and away the most effective. Which makes it even more frustrating that he has been sent to Providence in favor of Paul Carey and Trent Frederic. Frederic had around 10 games with the Bruins earlier in the season. He showed toughness, strong skating, and a good compete level. But what shone through even more than these things was that he was both raw, and not ready to join Bruins regularly.

Carey is new to the Bruins organization, and has shown consistent production and reliability at the AHL level. However, he has seen time in just five NHL games this season, amassing zero points with zero goals, and zero assists. There is a lot more to hockey than point production. But Cehlarik has proven that he brings more than scoring, so the decision to go with an untested call-up inserted into the lineup when consistency and chemistry are at a premium is a real kick in the shin.

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Photo Credit: David Zalubowski/ AP

Moving forward.

I hope I’m wrong about the drawbacks of the recent activity between Providence and Boston. If I’m wrong, then we win.

Here’ the thing, though: I don’t think I’m wrong. I will be absolutely shocked if suddenly Trent Frederic and Paul Carey outshine Peter Cehlarik’s 200-foot game in their time with the Bruins.

If I’m right, then not only will the Bruins suffer, but they will have thrust more young prospects (Carey is not all that young) into the fire before they were ready. Confidence is a real thing that coaches and GM’s should be expected to manage, and if these prospects are treated with the same zero-tolerance policy that Cehlarik was, then we might see a tucking of tails among them.

In any case, it’s unreasonable to expect a player to find their groove in their first game or two. Unless that player is Dean Youngblood.

But even he was given a short leash by his coach.

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 23 Preview

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Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 23 of the AHL season is upon us, and the Providence Bruins skate into it 31-22-7-2 (71 points) and 4-4-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. Even though the baby B’s sit firmly in a playoff spot, they could move up higher in the standings relatively soon. The Providence club sits only three points away from the fifth-place Toronto Marlies. With only 14 games left in the regular season, now is the time for our boys in black and gold to make their push towards the playoffs and climb the standings. This weekend will not be easy, the team embarks on a three-game road trip starting on Friday, March 15, 2019, and it ends on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

The weekend kicks off when the Providence Bruins take their show on the road and invade the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania to take on the home team Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday, March 15, 2019. The trip continues Saturday, March 16, 2019, when the Bruins skate into Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to take on the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. The road trip wraps up on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, when the baby B’s head north to Laval, Quebec, Canada to battle the Laval Rocket at Place Bell. With all three teams being below the Providence club in the standings, it has the potential to be a successful trip for our boys in black and gold.

Friday, March 15, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AWAY)

The Friday match-up marks the fifth time the Bruins have faced the Phantoms this season. In the first meeting, Lehigh Valley beat Providence 5-4 with the Bruins getting goals from Karson Kuhlman, Cameron Hughes, Colby Cave, and Wiley Sherman. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was off his game stopping 21 of 26 shots in net. The second meeting between the two teams saw a much better result for the Bruins. The Baby B’s beat the Philadelphia Flyers’ affiliate 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Austin Fyten (2), Cameron Hughes (2), Ryan Fitzgerald, and Jordan Szwarz, while goaltender Dan Vladar was good in net stopping 18 of the 21 shots that came his way.

The third match-up was another tough outcome for our boys wearing the spoked P. Lehigh Valley beat Providence 3-1. With Providence getting their lone goal from Joona Koppanen with goaltender Dan Vladar continuing his solid road play stopping 17 of the 19 shots that were fired his way. The fourth battle between the clubs saw the baby B’s win 4-2 getting goals from Gemel Smith (2), Trent Frederic, and Joona Koppanen. Goalie Zane McIntyre was fantastic in net turning away 20 of the 22 shots that were fired his way.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms skate into the game 30-26-3-3 (66 points) and 3-7-0 in their last 10 games. This is good for sixth in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. Despite the fact they are on the outside of the playoff picture, this game will not be easy for Providence. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 9-12-2-1 against the Flyers’ affiliate including 4-7-1 on the road. It should be a tough test for our boys in black and gold. There are a few keys to victory if the baby B’s plan on bucking the trend and beating Lehigh Valley. The first is getting a lead and holding onto it. The Providence club is 24-3-2-1 when leading after the second period, and the Phantoms are 21-1 when leading after two.

Special teams will also play a major key in who wins this game. The Flyers’ affiliate boasts the best penalty kill in the Eastern Conference at 86.5%. Meanwhile, the baby B’s power play is ranked 14th in the Eastern Conference at 17.1% On the flip-side the Bruins have the second-best penalty kill in the Eastern Conference at 85.7%, and the Phantoms have the fifth-best power play in the Eastern Conference at 19.1%. If our boys in black and gold can keep out of the penalty box, they have a good chance of coming out of the game with two points.

Saturday, March 16, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins (AWAY)

The Saturday match-up will mark the fifth time that these two teams have played each other, and Providence has had their way with the Pittsburgh affiliate thus far. The first battle saw the Bruins beat the Penguins 2-1 in overtime getting goals from the now departed Martin Bakos, and Ryan Fitzgerald (OT). Goalie Dan Vladar was superb in net denying 27 of the 28 shots that came his way. The second installment saw the Baby B’s route Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 5-2 getting goals from the recently traded Ryan Donato (2), Martin Bakos, Joel Messner, and Zach Senyshyn. Goalie Zane McIntyre was great in net stoning 20 of the 22 shots he faced. The third match-up saw the boys in black and gold win 4-2 getting goals from Ryan Fitzgerald, Peter Cehlarik, Ryan Donato, and Jakub Zboril. Goal Zane McIntyre was excellent in net stopping 32 of the 34 shots that were fired his way. The most recent match-up saw the Bruins lost 2-1 in a shootout getting their goal from Chris Breen. Goalie Zane McIntyre was superb in net turning away 39 of the 40 shots that came his way.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins come into the game 29-23-6-3 (67 points) and 5-2-2-1 in their last 10 games played. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence Bruins have not only played extremely well against the Pittsburgh affiliate this year going 3-0-0-1, but over the past five seasons, the Baby B’s are 13-6-2-3. A major key for the boys in black and gold will be how their offense plays. The Penguins have given up a total of 179 goals on the year. Only four other teams in the Eastern Conference have given up less. Meanwhile, the Bruins have scored 188 goals this year which is the ninth most in the Eastern Conference. Hopefully, the offense is up to that task.

Special teams will also be a key in this game. The Providence Bruins are not only fourth in the Eastern Conference in goals given up with 173, but they are also second in penalty kill at 85.7%. That coupled with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton having the 12th ranked power play in the Eastern Conference at 17.3% means that if the spoked P can play their game and hold their ground, it bodes well for the overall outcome. Another major key for the Pittsburgh affiliate is whether they outshoot their opponent when they do, they are 18-13-2-2 but are 6-8-3-1 when being outshot. On the other side, the Baby B’s are 9-6-3-1 when being outshot and 20-14-4-1 when outshooting their foe.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Laval Rocket (AWAY)

The Wednesday match will mark the second time the Bruins take on Laval this season. The Rocket play in the North Division, so because of that they only play each other twice a year once at home and once on the road. In the first match-up, the Bruins fell 3-2 getting goals from Mark McNeill and Jeremy Lauzon. Goalie Dan Vladar was excellent in net turning away 31 of the 34 shots that were fired his way. The Laval Rocket come into the match-up 25-27-6-4 (60 points) and 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for seventh in the North Division and 15th in the Eastern Conference. Over the past five seasons, the two teams have not played each other very much because of being in different divisions, but the baby B’s hold a 2-1 record against the Rocket in that time frame.

Special teams will also play a major key in which team comes out on top. The Laval Rocket have the 15th ranked power play in the Eastern Conference at 16.9%. As I have stated earlier the baby B’s boast the second-best penalty kill in the entire Eastern Conference at 85.7%. On the other side of things, the Montreal affiliate has 14th ranked penalty kill at 78.5%. With the Bruins power play being the 14th ranked at 17.1% this would be a great chance to boost those numbers. Something that will be interesting to watch for is who outshoots who. The Providence hockey club is 20-14-4-1 when they outshoot their opponents. However, the Laval club has a better record when being outshot at 13-9-2-3.

Team defense will also play a major key in the matchup. The Bruins boast of the best defenses in the Eastern Conference giving up 2.79 goals a game. Meanwhile, the Montreal affiliate gives up 2.98 goals a game. Laval also has a goal differential of –21. That means they have given up 21 more goals than they’ve scored. The Baby B’s have a goal differential of +15. This game is going to an interesting match-up against two teams that are not familiar with each other. However, all the stats point to the Providence hockey club coming out on top.

Who’s hot and Who’s not for the Bruins

Hot

Paul Carey: Paul Carey has been a scoring machine since coming over in a trade with the Ottawa Senators. In 21 games with Providence, the former Boston College Eagle has netted 14 goals and dished out six assists for 20 total points. That is a point per game total of 0.95. That includes netting six goals and dishing out two assists for eight total points in his last five games. The two-time NCAA champion has been playing so well that he was called up to Boston. Let’s hope the veteran forward keeps up his scorching hot play up in Boston.

Urho VaakanainenUrho Vaakanainen has been playing very well as of late. The young defenseman missed time earlier in the year due to a concussion, but he’s come back strong and is having a good year. In 28 games this year, the Finland native has found the back of the net four times and dished out 10 assists for 14 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.50. That includes netting four goals and dishing out one assist for five total points in his last five games. So far, it’s been a very successful first professional season for Urho. He made his NHL debut earlier in the year before being injured, he helped lead Finland to the World Junior Gold Medal after he returned from injury, and every part of his game looks NHL ready. Let’s hope the young defender can keep it up going forward.

Not

Ryan Fitzgerald: Ryan Fitzgerald started out the year having a fantastic season and was leading the team in points for a large part of the year. Injuries derailed what was an excellent season. However, in 48 games he has netted seven goals and dished out 24 assists for 31 points. This is a point per game total of 0.64. Despite this, over his past five games, the former Boston College Eagle has not found the back of the net and has dished out two assists for two total points. The veteran forward also has not found the back of the net since December 1, 2019. Part of that is due to injury, but he still has not scored a goal since coming back. With Carey called up to Boston, hopefully, the gritty forward can pick up some of the offense that will be missing.

Zach SenyshynZach Senyshyn has found himself in the not category a few weeks in a row now. That should give you an idea of how cold the streak he’s on is. Even though the young forward may be the most talented of the forward prospects, he cannot seem to buck this cold streak. The OHL product has not scored a goal since January 26, 2019. In his 14 games since then, the speedster has dished out three assists for three total points. Overall on the year, Senyshyn has found the back of the net 13 times and dished out 10 assists for 23 points in 54 games. This is a point per game total of 0.42. The Bruins will need him to bust out of this slump if they plan to go far in the playoffs.

My players to watch this weekend

Up Front

Karson Kuhlman: Karson Kuhlman has had an excellent first professional season for Providence this year. On the year the former University of Minnesota-Duluth Captain has potted 12 goals and dished out 16 assists for 28 total points in 55 games. That is a point per game total of 0.51. He has also recorded a point in three of his last five games for Providence dishing out three assists for three points in that time frame. The young forward has played so well that he earned a call-up to Boston and played well in the five games he played in. The Bruins need the former NCAA Champion to continue his exceptional play on this road-trip to make it a successful one.

On the Blue Line

Jakub ZborilJakub Zboril has had a very good season for the Providence Bruins this season. In 46 games he has found the back of the net four times while dishing out 12 assists for 16 total points. That is a point per game total of 0.34. This is a better scoring pace than last season, while also playing great defense. On top of that, he’s played well against Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre / Scranton this season. In six games against the two teams, he has netted one goal and dished out three assists for four total points. With Connor Clifton getting called up to Boston, the baby B’s will need Zboril to play well on this road-trip.

In Net

Dan VladarDan Vladar has had an up and down season for the Providence Bruins this season. On the year the young goaltender is 9-12-4 with a goal against average of 2.75 and a save percentage of .901. Despite the up and down year, six of his nine wins have come on the road, and both of his shutouts were away from the Dunk. With the next three games coming outside of Providence, Rhode Island I would look for Vladar to have a big road trip.

The Providence Bruins climbed a single spot from eighth in the Eastern Conference to seventh last weekend.  With 14 games left on the Providence hockey club’s magic number is 27. Anytime our boys wearing black and gold win, the magic number is reduced by two points. The magic number is also reduced when the team with the highest possible point total, who also sits outside of the playoff picture fails to record a point. Once the magic number hits zero, your team makes the playoffs. With 28 total points left for the Baby B’s to grab each game is of the utmost importance. Look for the road-trip to be full of some high-intensity hockey. We will catch up with you next week to let you know how the team fared but feel free to send any questions or comments to me on Twitter. I hope everyone enjoys the games this weekend and Go, B’s, Go!

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket, from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You! 

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Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Week 23 Preview

( Photo Credit: Dale Zanine / gwinnettdailypost.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

After a tough week on the road, the Atlanta Gladiators return home for three divisional matchups against South Carolina, Florida, and Norfolk. Coach Pyle will be working hard to make sure his team returns to winning ways and keep their playoff hopes alive. The Glads are just two points behind the South Carolina Stingrays, who are in the final playoff spot. This is a crucial week, and the playoff picture could look very different after the next three games.

The Glads were boosted by the return of Brett McKenzie last Friday, following a stint in the AHL with the Providence Bruins. The rookie forward made an instant impact, but the big move of the week was the trade that saw forward, Branden Troock, sent to the Maine Mariners in exchange for defenseman, John Furgele. The rookie blueliner has been a standout performer this season, contributing 21 points (8g, 13a) in 51 games for the Mariners. He opened his Glads account straight away with two assists for his new team. In other news, forward Jared Ross has been signed and added to the active roster. Derek Nesbitt and Jake Flegal return from reserve while Joshua Victor and Joe Widmar head the other way. Defenseman Kevin Montgomery has been placed on IR as of March ninth.

The Gladiators started the week against the South Carolina Stingrays. With the two teams so close in the South Division standings, this is the most important game of the week. Playing at home will be an advantage for Atlanta, but with so much at stake, it is a tough game to call. The Glads have been closing in on the Stingrays for some time, and letting them win would increase the gap to four points. Both teams will be feeling the pressure, this could be a defining moment in the playoff race.

The games do not get any easier for Atlanta. Following the crucial game against South Carolina, the Glads get a chance of redemption against the Florida Everblades. Atlanta lost all three games against the ‘Blades last week, but they managed to earn a point in the third match up. The Everblades have been a problem for a very long time, but the Glads know they are capable of beating them. Home ice will be an advantage, but Atlanta will have to be at their best to win this one.

The Glads finish the week at home against the Norfolk Admirals. It has been over a month since the two teams last faced off. Since then, the Gladiators have climbed above Norfolk in the South Division standings and head into the week five points ahead of them. The Admirals are 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 and have not won in six games. Earlier this week, they picked up former Gladiator, Shane Eiserman, via trade which will add spice to the game.

This Week’s Gladiators To Watch:

Brett McKenzie: After spending time in the AHL with the Providence Bruins, McKenzie returned to the Glads and picked up where he left off scoring three points (1g, 2a) last week. The rookie forward has become an important player for Atlanta and is currently third on the team in total points with 36 (12g, 24a).

Olivier Galipeau: The rookie defenseman has been quiet offensively in recent weeks and is due for some points. The Gladiators power play has been strong all season, and Olivier is a key part of it. He is a skillful player and always fun to watch, keep an eye on him.

Nick Bligh: The third-year forward exploded against Jacksonville with three first period goals (for the second time this season) and has seven points (4g, 3a) in his last five games for Atlanta. He has been in solid form over the last two weeks and will be one to watch this week.

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Four Boston Bruins Players That Could Win The 7th Player Award

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

Every year, the New England Sports Network, better known as NESN, releases a fan vote where fans of the Boston Bruins can vote for who they think should be awarded with the annual 7th Player Award. The 7th Player Award is awarded to the Boston Bruin who “has performed above and beyond expectations”. In years past, the team honour is handed out at the end of March, so the countdown is on for the winner.

Before we get into who should win the award for the 2018-19 season, let’s take a quick look at the past winners of the last decade. Information regarding this is courtesy of Ice Hockey Fandom.com. 

  • 2008-09 David Krejci
  • 2009-10 Tuukka Rask
  • 2010-11 Brad Marchand
  • 2011-12 Tyler Seguin
  • 2012-13 Dougie Hamilton
  • 2013-14 Reilly Smith
  • 2014-15 David Pastrnak
  • 2015-16 Brad Marchand
  • 2016-17 David Pastrnak
  • 2017-18 Charlie McAvoy

Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Charlie McAvoy are the most recent winners of the award and for good reason. Marchand exploded three years ago with a 37 goals and a new career-high in points with 61. David Pastrnak also had a great year when he won it back in 2016-17, scoring 34-36-70 numbers from his 26 the year prior. Finally, last year, Charlie McAvoy scored 32 points in his debut NHL season and truly came out as one of the best young offensive d-men in the league.

In the past, the award has been handed out at the end of March, just ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in April. We are already over a week into the third month of the new calendar year, so now is the perfect time to take a look at some of the players who can with the 2018-19 7th Player Award.

Jaroslav Halak -> 18-10-4, 2.33 GAA, .924 SV%, 4 Shutouts

When Anton Khudobin did not agree to a new contract with the Boston Bruins following the 2017-18 season, the concern came as to who the Bruins were going to fall on for the role of the backup goaltender position. Ideas of younger, prospect goaltenders from either the Providence Bruins or other affiliate teams were thrown around, but it was the free-agent market that would provide the solution for this new-found problem.

Boston signed journeyman goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a two-year contract with an annual average salary of $2.75 million. Last season, Halak finished up his fourth season with the New York Islanders, the fourth NHL team of his 13-year career. Halak finished last season with a 20-26-6 record, a 3.19 GAA, and a .908 save percentage – not great numbers.

Lucky for Bruins fans and himself, Halak turned a new leaf while wearing the Spoked-B sweater and is showing glimpses of top-level play, the type of play that we saw from him during his time with the Montreal Canadiens. Early on this season, starting goaltender Tuukka Rask was not on his game. He was struggling in net and was losing more often than he was winning. However, Jaro Halak made an appearance and took over the show in the meantime, keeping the Bruins afloat in the NHL’s Eastern Conference playoff race.

jaroslav-halak

PHOTO CREDITS: (NBC Sports)

Head Coach Bruce Cassidy mentioned the fact that he may look to split the number of games that Rask and Halak play down the final stretch and that shows that Halak has done enough to earn starts when it matters. When the original signing was made, many people, including myself was not a fan mainly due to his performance in the previous season but he has exceeded everyone’s expectations and should be a favourite for the 7th Player Award because, without him, Boston may not be second in the Atlantic division.

Chris Wagner -> 66GP, 12G – 6A – 18P, 4th Liner

Chris Wagner never once scored ten goals in his five-year NHL career. In fact, he never scored more than 15 points in a single season, a mark he once hit in 64 games with the Anaheim Ducks last year in 2017-18.

When the Bruins signed Wagner, the Walpole, Massachusetts native to a two-year deal on the opening day of free agency, the signing of Joakim Nordstrom and the hope that the young, up-and-coming players within the Bruins organization will get more NHL minutes, it seemed like Wagner was going to be a spare tire – a depth piece for injuries or for a replacement for a player who is struggling but no, Wagner has become a near-permanent member of the 2018-19 Bruins.

Part of the reason for his success is the help of his linemates, Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari, who have helped bolster the game of Wagner to a level never seen before in the NHL. The trio has brought a high level of intensity and energy to the bottom-six while being able to add in a few goals here and there. Additionally, Wagner leads the Bruins with 226 hits, a stat that ties him for 6th most in the National Hockey League.

In today’s NHL, all four lines of any team need to have the ability to score goals when they are so required to do so, yet provide a level of physicality and defence that can keep them in the thick of things. Chris Wagner has been a big reason for the success of that line and he deserves to be in the conversation for the 7th Player Award. No one expected the performance of Wagner to be this solid and a brief stroll in past Twitter comments will highlight that.

David Krejci -> 69GP, 19G – 41A – 60P, +3 Rating

Without a doubt, David Krejci is one of the best second-line centres in the NHL and is one of the best playmakers in the league for the past few seasons. It may seem hard for a player of that stature to win an award that presents the player that has exceeded expectations, but he needs to be in the conversation.

Since putting up 17-46-63 numbers in the 2015-2016 campaign, Krejci seemed to be on a decline for point production. In 2016-17, Krejci scored 54 points in a full 82-game season followed by a 44-point year last year in only 64 games played. However, with the growing chemistry with left-winger Jake DeBrusk, Krejci is on pace for just over 71 points this season. That total would be the second-highest single-season point total for Krejci since his 22-51-73 effort back in 2008-09 – ten seasons ago.

In that 2008-09 season, Krejci averaged 0.89 points-per-game. In comparison, Krejci is averaging 0.87 points-per-game, the third-highest PPG average in his 13-year NHL career. Krejci has found 15 of his points on the man-advantage, meaning the bulk of his numbers have come from five-on-five play, a huge attribute to take into consideration.

Throughout the past few seasons, the Sternberk, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) native has been on the receiving end of hard criticism but quite clearly, he has used that as motivation for his success this season. The 32-year-old has three game-winning goals this season, including the overtime goal in the 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on March 5th. Linemate Jake DeBrusk said the following about his chemistry with Krejci right after the game versus Carolina.

“I think when you play with a guy for almost 2 years now, you generate that w just games played & different things like that. He’s been playing great all year. He’s the biggest reason why I’ve had success personally as well. To have a guy like that in my corner is something that I don’t take for granted.” – Quote from Shawn Hutcheon (@ShawnHutcheon on Twitter)

David Krejci exceeded the expectations that were placed on him back in September before the puck dropped to begin the regular season. His name is back in the minds of teams across the league if they so happened to forget about him and he has been a factor for the success of the Bruins.

Sean Kuraly -> 66GP, 6G – 11A – 17P, 4th Liner

Sean Kuraly joins linemate Chris Wagner on this four-player list because, in a way, they have to be. Kuraly and Wagner, with the inclusion of Acciari, have surprised most Bruins fans and hockey fans throughout the league with their energy, tenacity, and offensive capabilities while throwing in the occasional hit or fight.

Sean Kuraly came to Boston on June 30th, 2015 in a trade with the San Jose Sharks that sent goaltender Martin Jones off to California and Kuraly with a 2016 1st Rounder (Trent Frederic) to Boston. Martin Jones was acquired by the B’s from the L.A. Kings in exchange for beloved Bruin, Milan Lucic only a few days prior.

Kuraly didn’t play with Boston until 2016-17, skating in eight games, scoring a single point. Kuraly was given an opportunity in the 2017 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals against the Ottawa Senators and he earned his way into the hearts of Bruins fans all over with two massive goals, one of which in the second overtime session in Game 5 of that series, forcing a Game 6.

After that remarkable game for Kuraly, he ended up playing 75 games during the 2017-18 season, scoring six goals and eight assists for a total of 14 points. In the offseason of this past year, Kuraly signed on the dotted line to a three-year, $3,825,000 contract extension, securing himself a position on the NHL roster for the time being.

Kuraly has done that and more. The Dublin, Ohio, USA native has matched his career-high in goals (6) and set a new career-high in points (17) and has played in twelve less games than in last year’s season. The threat of the fourth-line could be courtesy of the always hard-working Sean Kuraly. Kuraly still possesses that clutch goal-scoring talent, scoring two game-winning goals so far in 2018-19 – both coming in back-to-back games against the Sabres on December 29th and the Blackhawks in the Winter Classic on January 1st.

Kuraly has been one of those quite but deadly pieces to the puzzle that is the 2018-19 Boston Bruins – which can come across as a pleasant surprise for him, the management, and the fanbase.

My Winner: Chris Wagner

It seems like when the Bruins are down a goal late in the hockey game, scrambling to find their legs and score the tying goal or even the winning goal, Chris Wagner is inadvertently in the thick of things when the goal eventually crosses the red line. Wagner has scored the game-tying goal on three different occasions, two of which in the third and final period. Also, in each of those games where he scored the tying marker, the Bruins went on to either win the game or lose in a shootout.

I’ll be 110% honest here – I was fully anticipating Chris Wagner to be scratched for more games than he played and to see limited ice time when he is indeed in the lineup. Losing out on Tavares and Kovalchuk in free agency, at the time, it appeared as though Sweeney and the rest of the B’s management staff had no one else and wanted to go for depth. Tim Schaller, the now Vancouver Canuck, did not re-sign, but it looked like Nordstrom would replace him. Instead, the Bruins have a physical, gritty fourth-liner that has been big when scoring meaningful goals this season.

Chris Wagner is my personal pick to win this year’s 7th Player Award, who do you think wins the annual accolade? Was it one of the players I listed or does another player come to mind? Let me know via Twitter (@tkdmaxbjj) or on FaceBook comments!

Side Note: In the poll above, I listed D Brandon Carlo as an option, yet he is not on my list. I personally expected Carlo to be good this year, so he did not necessarily ‘exceed’ my expectations, but he has been great.

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Bruins Prospect Steen Is Having Career Year In SHL

( Photo Credit: BostonHerald.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins could add one of their better European prospects to the developmental levels as soon as next season. 2016 sixth-round selection Oskar Steen who plays overseas with the Farjestad BK club in the Swedish Hockey League is having a big year and getting heavy praise. Providence Journal Bruins beat writer Mark Divver tweeted out that Steen is heavily considered to represent Team Sweden for this year’s World Championships being played in the cities of Bratislava and Kosice in Slovakia which would be a fantastic experience for the developing forward.

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The 20-year-old Karlstad, Sweden native is currently having a career season thus far with 17-20-37 numbers in 44 games and is playing in the last year of his contract with the SHL’s Farjestad club. As Divver mentioned in his above tweet, the 5′-9″ 187-pound forward could sign an entry-level deal during the offseason and place him in the American Hockey League as soon as the 2019-20 season to get him acclimated to the North American game and tighter playing surface.

Steen had seven points in his last three games including a 2-1-3 offensive effort in an 8-3 win on Saturday, March 2nd, 2019, 8-3 win against the visiting Mora IK club and contributed two assists today in a Farjestad 4-1 victory over Brynas. To begin the 2018-19 campaign, Oskar had 6-5-11 totals in the first 22 games and after a five-game absence from December 6th, 2018 to December 26th, 2018, the speedy forward has 11-15-26 numbers in his last 20 games.

Below, thedraftanalyst.com’s website founder Steve Kournianos had these words to say about Bruins prospect Oskar Steen in his 2016 Pre NHL Draft Rankings Top 500 Final Rankings article where Steve had him at #80. Check out The Draft Analysts other rankings from the same year in these monthly rankings –> December 2015 Top 250 Steen Ranked #74,  January 2016 Top 250 Steen Ranked #96, February 2016 Top 250 Steen Ranked #84, March 2016 Top 250 Steen Ranked #86, April 2016 Top 250 Steen Ranked #80 Not bad numbers in my opinion for a sixth rounder.

Steady climber who exploded at the most recent U18 Five Nations in Switzerland. The book is still out on him, but the more he out-produces his peers in best-on-best competitions, the more visible he’ll appear on the draft radar. Steen isn’t a gazelle, but he’s hard to handle during zone entries and cycles. He can also bring a quick and accurate shot.

Now I’m no expert when it comes to evaluating players, but if my opinion is wanted here, we go. Fast forward that protects the puck well in stride which makes him effective all over the ice even in the dirty areas for the undersized player. His speed alone is something to watch especially on the forecheck with his puck tracking capabilities.  If Steen can translate the difference in game style from across the pond, he’ll be a solid addition to an already fast developing core down in Providence under the tutelage of Head Coach Jay Leach.

Oskar is the type of player that I can easily see moving up and down the top nine of the AHL Bruins lineup or at the NHL level a solid fourth liner that not only has speed but adds a little bit of grit and in-your-face forechecking. He has a decent pair of hands that have been on display thus far this season but also has an insanely accurate shot either a quick snapshot or winding up in stride blasting one home.  His creativity in tight spaces I hear was a big reason former NHL Boston player, and now B’s European amateur scout PJ Axelsson was his selling point to B’s management in several pre-draft meetings.

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Steen is ranked 7th in the SHL is overall points and has four remaining games in this regular season before playoffs. The Farjastads BK team has a record of 27-13-6-4 and currently sit second in the league as the 50 game SHL regular season has come to an end. Oskar’s arrival in North America is currently on hold at this point and all going to depend on his efforts and teams success in the attempt to capture a league championship with the playoffs starting shortly.

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Providence Bruins vs Hershey Bears Game Recap 3/8/19

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flikr )

By: Sam Fryman  |  Follow Me On Twitter @sfryman20

Providence Bruins Lines:

Carey – Szwarz – Kuhlman
Blidh – Frederic – Senyshyn
Fitzgerald – Smith – McNeill
Riley – Koppanen – Pond

Goalie:

McIntyre

Hershey Bears Lines:

Smith Pelley – Sgarbossa – Barber
Gersich – Megna – Walker
O’Brien – Pilon – Malenstyn
Kammerer – Pinho – Whitney

Goalie:

Vanacek

First Period:

The Bruins looked to begin a strong weekend in the month of March against one of their chief rivals in the Atlantic Division. The Hershey Bears came into this matchup sitting just one point ahead of Providence for third in the division standings. It was the first of two games against Hershey as the Bruins looked to prevent the Bears from getting their 8th win in the last 11 games.

With the return of forward Karson Kuhlman to the lineup, Providence was expecting an added boost of offense. Early on the Bruins wouldn’t do so, going 0 for 2 on the power play and not controlling the pace of the game as Hershey could. Zane McIntyre continued his impressive season by coming up with several very athletic saves in the early minutes, notably on Beck Malenstyn, while the Bruins defensemen were making a few passing mistakes.

The Bears got the scoring started with just about a minute and a half left in the first period with Riley Barber receiving a terrific pass from behind the net by Aaron Ness. Despite the slow start on the scoreboard, Providence lead in the shots on goal category 12-8.

Score: Hershey 1-0

Second Period:

Providence applied more of an aggressive forecheck to begin the second period, and the scoring chances were coming much more frequently as were fortunate turnovers. Providence went on their third power play of the game with 13:19 to go in the period due to an interference penalty. Special teams finally yielded a goal to the Bruins via the captain Jordan Szwarz, his third against the Bears this season. After a great point shot by Clifton, Szwarz dived in front of the net to put it past Hershey goaltender Vitek Vanecek. A punch filled scrap between Tyler Lewington and Trent Frederic right after the goal kept the fans very much into it.

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As the physicality of the game picked up it was the job of the Bruins penalty kill to keep the tie intact. They held Hershey scoreless on their two power play chances in the period, continuing their season-long success down a man. After some incredible stick moves by Connor Clifton, the Bruins got yet another power play goal to take their first lead of the games. While he didn’t finish off his highlight reel approach, former Bear Paul Carey received a perfect pass and finished with under three minutes left in the second.

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Score: Providence 2-1

Third Period:

The third period started with a great bounce from Hershey. Their continued zone presence and crisp passing left the Bruins gassed, but the defense and McIntyre were able to fend off all challenges. With some tight back and forth action being applied between the two squads, Lucas Johansson tied it up for the Bears with 4:54 left in regulation. It was his first AHL goal since mid-October. It was an unfortunate one to give up given how much Providence had controlled the puck in their offensive zone. The goal would give each team one point as the contest headed to overtime, but only one squad would walk away with a big second for the win.

Score: 2-2

Overtime was a very even contest but it yielded no winner. The noteworthy highlights were a big couple of denials by McIntyre on Hershey’s Jason Megna, who had been a shot machine all night for the visitors.

Shootout: Hershey has been known throughout the season as a very strong shootout team, but none of their shooters could figure out Zane McIntyre. In the sixth round, Anton Blidh scored to give the Bruins the win which will leave the teams tied in the Atlantic Division standings. Next up for Providence: Another tilt against the Bears tomorrow night at the Dunk, followed by a Sunday matinee contest versus Springfield.

Final: 3-2

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 22 Preview

BruinsvsBears

Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 22 of the Providence Bruins season is here and our favorite team in black and gold skate into the weekend 29-21-7-2 (67 points) and 4-4-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, only two points separate them and fifth place in the Conference standings. This weekend’s slate of games could not have come at a better time. The baby B’s have three games at home with two of the games coming against a team that is ahead of them in the standings. A strong week 22 could help the spoked P leapfrog a few teams in the conference as well as give them a nice cushion from teams trying to claw their way back into the playoff seeding.

The action-packed weekend kicks off on Friday, March 8, 2019, when the Hershey Bears invade Providence, Rhode Island to take on the Bruins at the Dunk. The weekend continues Saturday, March 9, 2019, when the same two teams battle it out at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center to find out once and for all which team is the better bear. Finally, the action wraps up on Sunday, March 10, 2019, when familiar adversary the Springfield Thunderbirds swoop into town to take on our boys in black and gold at the Dunk. It is going to be an exciting, jam-packed three days of hockey that you will not want to miss.

Friday, March 8, 2019, (HOME) and Saturday, March 9, 2019, (HOME) Providence Bruins vs. Hershey Bears

The Friday and Saturday games will mark the fourth and fifth times that Providence has played Hershey this season. In the first meeting between the two clubs, the Baby B’s beat the Washington Capitals’ affiliate 6-2 with the Bruins getting goals from Jordan Szwarz (2), Cameron Hughes, Anton Blidh, Kyle Cumiskey, and Tanner Pond while goalie Zane McIntyre looked great in net stopping 19 of 21 shots he faced. The second meeting saw the Providence club win 4-1 getting goals from the now departed Cody Goloubef (2), Karson Kuhlman, and Mark McNeill. Goalie Zane McIntyre was excellent in net turning away 23 of the 24 shots that were fired his way. The third battle saw the Bruins fall 2-1 getting their lone goal from Karson Kuhlman. Goalie Zane McIntyre was still great in net stopping 17 of the 19 shots that were sent his way.

The Hershey Bears skate into the weekend 32-22-1-3 (68 points) and 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. Despite being ahead of the baby B’s in the standings, the Capitals’ affiliate could be the perfect opponent to start a win streak against. Over the past five seasons, Providence is 13-7-2-1 against Hershey going 8-2 at the Dunk in that time frame. With both games being at home this bodes well for our boys in black and gold. There are a few keys to the game that if the spoked P can control, they will likely come out on top in both games.

The first key is who is leading after the first and second periods. Hershey is 18-3-0-2 when they are ahead after the first period of action. They are also 24-1-1-2 when leading after two. Meanwhile, when down after one their records dips to 4-12-0-1 and when trailing after the second it falls even further to 5-19. On the other side, the Providence Bruins are 13-5-3 when ahead after the first period and 23-3-2-1 when they are leading after two. When trailing after one, their record dips to 5-14-2 and when down after two periods it dips even further to 4-17-2. Getting a lead early and holding onto it will be a major key into winning both games.

The other major key to the game will be team defense. The Providence Bruins have one of the best defenses in the entire Eastern Conference ranked third in goals against with 165 in their 59 games played. This means they are giving up 2.79 goals a game. On the other side of things, the Hershey Bears are ranked sixth in the Eastern Conference in goals against with 171 in their 58 games played. This is 2.94 goals given up per game. The big difference is that despite their record, the Capitals’ affiliate has a goal differential of –15. This means they’ve given up 15 more goals than they’ve scored on the season. To give you an idea of just how bad that is the baby B’s differential is +25. A combination of the Bruins’ stingy defense and the Bears’ mediocre offense bodes well for our boys in black and gold this weekend.

Sunday, March 10, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (HOME)

The Sunday match-up marks the 12th time the Bruins and Thunderbirds have faced off this season. In the first meeting, Springfield beat Providence 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Colby Cave. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre was a little off his game stopping 14 of 20 shots. The second meeting between the two teams saw a different score with the same result. The Florida Panther’s affiliate beat the Baby B’s 4-2 with the Bruins getting goals from now-departed Martin Bakos and Jan Kovar, while current goalie Zane McIntyre looked much better stopping 17 of 20 shots in net.

The third game of the season series saw the Bruins finally break through and get a win beating the Thunderbirds 5-4. The boys in black and gold got goals from Mark McNeill, Karson Kuhlman, Peter Cehlarik, Jordan Szwarz, and Connor Clifton while Dan Vladar stopped 22 of 26 shots he faced. The next installment of the season series did not go according to plan for the spoked P as they fell to the Springfield club 5-3. Bruins got goals from Zach Senyshyn, Gemel Smith, and Jordan Szwarz. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was a little off his game despite facing a barrage of shots stopping 34 of 39 he faced. Part five of the season series was a good one for the boys in black and gold. The Bruins beat the Thunderbirds 4-3 getting goals from Peter Cehlarik (2), Trent Frederic, and Paul Carey. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre continued to play well as he turned away 19 of the 22 shots he faced.

The sixth part in the season series saw the Panthers’ affiliate beat the spoked P 3-2 in overtime. The Baby B’s were able to get goals from Gemel Smith, and Cameron Hughes with Dan Vladar giving a tremendous effort in net stopping 38 of the 41 shots he faced. The seventh showdown saw the boys in black and gold win 2-1 in a shootout getting goals from Karson Kuhlman, and Trent Frederic netted the winning shootout goal. Zane McIntyre was excellent in net turning away 23 of the 24 shots he faced. The eighth throw-down between the two clubs saw the Providence hockey club win 3-2 getting goals from Mark McNeill, Gemel Smith, and Zach Senyshyn. Goalie Zane McIntyre was great in net stopping 22 of 24 shots that came his way.

The ninth meeting saw the Thunderbirds win 5-1 with the Bruins getting their lone goal from Jordan Szwarz. Goalie Zane McIntyre had a rough game in net stopping 21 of 26 shots that were fired his way. The 10th battle between the Providence Bruins and the Springfield Thunderbirds saw the baby B’s fall 4-2 getting goals from Paul Carey and Emil Johansson. Goalie Dan Vladar turned away 28 of the 31 shots that were fired his way. The most recent chapter of the long season series saw the Bruins come out on top 5-2 getting goals from Paul Carey (2), Urho Vaakanainen (2), and Connor Clifton. Goalie Zane McIntyre stopped 27 out of the 29 shots that came his way.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the weekend home and home series 24-24-6-5 (59 points) and 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference. Despite having a rough season against the Panthers’ affiliate this year, the Baby B’s have played well against them over the past five years going 22-12-3. They also have almost identical records at home and on the road in that time frame. This bodes well for the weekend series. Defense again will play a major role in who wins this game.

The Thunderbirds have scored 193 goals in the 59 games they’ve played this season which is 3.27 goals a game their problem is they’ve given up 194 goals in that time frame as well which is 3.28 per game. Providence’s defense, on the other hand, is quite good giving up only 2.79 goals a game. Their offense is no slouch either scoring 3.05 goals a game. The other big key is again who had the lead after two periods. Despite their position in the standings the club from Springfield Massachusetts is 19-1-1 when leading after two periods and 0-22-1-2 when down after two periods. Meanwhile, the Baby B’s are 23-3-2-1 when leading after two and 4-17-2 when trailing after the second period. It should be an exciting game that you do not want to miss.

Who’s hot and Who’s not for the Bruins

Hot

Paul Carey: Paul Carey has been very good for Providence since coming over in a trade with the Senators in January. Since the trade, the former Boston College Eagle has played in 18 games finding the back of the net 11 times and dishing out five assists for 16 total points. This is a point per game clip of 0.88. To top it off the two-time NCAA Champion has six points in his last seven games, netting five goals and dishing out an assist during that time frame. The veteran forward needs to continue his hot play if the Bruins hope to have a good weekend.

Jordan SzwarzJordan Szwarz has been great for Providence this season. The captain has found the back of the net 18 times while dishing 13 assists for 31 total points in the 52 games he’s played in. This is a point per game clip of 0.59. To top it off, recently he has scored five points in his last seven games netting three goals and dishing out two assists in the time frame. The OHL product is just two goals away from 20 on the year. Once he reaches that mark, he will be the fifth player in Providence Bruins history to have 20+ goals in three separate seasons. Be on the lookout for that.

Not

Zach SenyshynZach Senyshyn may be the most talented of all the Bruins forward prospects. Despite this, the young winger has proven to be a streaky player since coming to Providence, and right now he’s on a cold streak that’s as cold as the ice he skates on. The OHL product has netted 13 goals and dished out nine assists for 22 total points in the 51 games he has played in. This is a point per game total of 0.43. This is considerably less than his OHL days of 0.91 (114-63-177 in 195 games played). To top it off, he has scored just two points in his last 11 games dishing out two assists. He has not scored a goal since January 26, 2019. Hopefully, the speedster can find his offensive game and turn the corner this weekend.

Mark McNeill: Mark McNeill has had a good season for Providence overall. In the 46 games that he has played in the gritty forward has found the back of the net seven times while dishing out 16 assists for 24 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.52. Even though the WHL product has been good overall this season, he’s been on a big cold streak recently. He has recorded just two points in his last 14 games dishing out two assists. McNeill hasn’t found the back of the net since January 26, 2019. Hopefully, the veteran forward can turn things around and have a great weekend.

My Players to watch this weekend

Up Front

Gemel Smith: Gemel Smith has been excellent overall for Providence this year. In 31 games since being acquired from Dallas in a trade, the young forward has found the back of the net 12 times while dishing out 16 assists for 28 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.90. To top it off he has been especially good against Springfield and Hershey this season. In 11 games against the two teams this year he has found the back of the net three times and dished out eight assists for 11 total points. That means 39% of the points he has scored with the Bruins have come against this weekend’s opponents. Look for him to have a good week 22.

On the Blue Line

Urho VaakanainenUrho Vaakanainen has had a great first professional season despite missing time due to a concussion. In 25 games with the Providence Bruins, the young defender has found the back of the net two times while dishing out 10 assists for 12 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.48. This is much higher than his Liiga days in Finland of 0.21 (7-16-23 in 109 games played). As well as his offensive game is coming along, the WJC Gold Medalist’s defensive game has been just as impressive. He looks like he’s already NHL ready despite being only 20 years of age. Last weekend the young defenseman scored his first two professional goals. Look for him to continue his play and have a good weekend.

In Net

Zane McIntyre: Zane McIntyre has played well for Providence overall this year. At the turn of the new year, it was his fantastic play in net that helped solidify the backend of the Bruins’ defense. As good as his play has been, the veteran goalie has been better at home this season and been especially good against Hershey. In the three games against the Capitals’ affiliate, the netminder’s stats are 2-1 with a goals against average of 1.68 and a save percentage of .922. With all three games being home and two of them against Hershey, look for him to have a big weekend.

The Providence Bruins come into the weekend clinging to that eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. This weekend is the perfect one to gain some ground and pad their position in the standings. All of the weekend’s games are at home, and on top of that, the Providence club is playing teams they should beat. I would look for the Bruins to nab at least four of six points. This could help them leapfrog a team or two in the standings. Anything else would be a total loss for the weekend. We will catch up with you next week to let you know how the team fared but feel free to send any questions or comments to me on Twitter. I hope everyone enjoys the games this weekend and Go, B’s, Go!

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