Could Bruins Prospect Beecher Jump From The NCAA To The CHL?

( Photo Credit: Kevin Light/Getty Images )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Covid-19 virus continues to be a thorn in the side of humanity but also in the sports world that many of us loved following on a daily basis before the pause. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel as numbers are dropping in North America, and some pro leagues such as the National Hockey League are looking to get back to work. The NHL has a 24-Team playoff format laid out to start in the next two months in an effort to return to the ice and award a 2020 Stanley Cup Champion. 

Leagues below the professional level are projected to not start their regular seasons on time because they don’t have the financial gain the best hockey league in the world has. Take, for instance, the scenario in the NCAA and the Canadian Hockey League made up of three different entities. The Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League are rumored to start in late October, but the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League may get started months later even as far as January per source. 

I was listening to the 31 Thoughts Podcast hosted by Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek a few weeks ago, and Mr. Marek brought up an interesting thought in when talking about the NCAA. Jeff pointed out that if the collegiate level of hockey has a late start with the continued virus concerns, some athletes may defect to the CHL for an opportunity to play sooner. Listen to the whole podcast and subscribe, of course, but if you’re looking for a timestamp for the start of the topic, it’s at the 33:30 below.

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Bringing this to a Boston Bruins related article, Marek mentioned 2018 first-round selection John Beecher and his loophole to possibly defect to the CHL. This might be a bit of a stretch after Beecher just finished his freshman year at Michigan with the Wolverines, but it’s a sneakingly good way to keep his development going and on time. I know some are thinking of waiting it out for the NCAA to get back on track and return to a Mel Pearson coached Michigan club.

I’m a huge fan of whatever decision Beecher, his agent, and Bruins organization see fit for his development moving forward, but the OHL might be an enticing landing spot with increased opportunity. Beecher was drafted by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the 2017 OHL Priority Draft but with all intentions of committing to Michigan. The benefitting factor by defecting is the increased games that the OHL plays compared to the mandated 34 in the NCAA. If he decides to cross the border into Canada, and in fact, join the Soo Greyhounds club, his games per season would almost double.

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Another thing that Jeff Marek brought up on the aforementioned 31 Thoughts Hockey Podcast was another highly profiled prospect in the Montreal Canadiens organization could do the same. Under the keen eye of former NHL’er and Head Coach Tony Granato of the Wisconsin Badgers is Cole Caufield, who had a tremendous 19-17-36 season in 36 games. Caufield, as Marek mentions in the podcast, was also selected in the OHL Priority Draft, but unlike Beecher in 2017, Cole was selected the following season (2018) by the same Greyhounds club.

There are so many avenues and logistics that have to be considered here about this topic but can you imagine an OHL Greyhounds team with the additions of Beecher and Caulfield with such mainstays as current Soo roster players who had five 25 goal scorers accompanied by six 50 point go-getters in the 2019-20 regular season campaign that had the Hounds appear in 64 games before the arrival of the Covid-19 virus. The Soo ended last season with a record of 29-31-3-1, and if the worlds line together to see this though, if both want to leave the NCAA, of course, they would be solid additions to a potential 2020-21 Greyhounds roster.

I’m not exactly an expert when it comes to the difference between the CHL and the NCAA, but when it comes to the games played a factor that always wins for me in the speed of development. If the Boston Bruins see a serious fit for Beecher in the next season or two, this aggressive approach might be beneficial to that avenue. Also, keeping in mind that as a 19-year-old, Beecher, even though drafted in the CHL would be eligible for the American Hockey League before the age of 20-year-old. 

Like I have mentioned several times before, this is a stretch, but it’s something to consider when thinking about the player and progression timeline. Most Boston Bruins prospect gurus have Beecher making an impact in the next two or three seasons regardless of this article topic, but a planned full 76 game year with the AHL’s Providence Bruins wouldn’t be out of the question and has to be accounted for.

Take B’s prospect Jack Studnicka who also plays up the middle, had a decent first-year pro season in the AHL, and looks to lock up a roster spot when the 2020-21 campaign officially starts. Patience has been key lately for Bruins management when inserting younger talent into the lineup but has also been smart to re-sign team members to give some of that mentioned youth more time in the minor-pro system.

Wolverines Head Coach Mel Pearson has put Beecher in areas to succeed with his versatility. Not sure if this is the idea from Bruins management passed down to the coaching staff of the NCAA club, but it creates a few options moving forward in the forever battle of planning ahead and prospect NHL timelines. Just think of the possibilities at the center positions in the next few seasons with the additions of Studnicka, Trent Frederic, and now Beecher awaiting in the midst. The Bruins have been unreal at identifying what’s needed at center and seemingly build around them, and there’s no doubt about that when you think of current members like Patrice Bergeron, Charlie Coyle, and David Krejci. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 180 that we recorded below on 5-25-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Bruins Prospect Jack Studnicka Selected To AHL All-Rookie Team

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(Source: providencebruins.com)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Boston Bruins prospect and Providence Bruins standout Jack Studnicka has been named to the American Hockey League (AHL) All-Rookie Team for the 2019-20 season as voted by coaches, players, and media around the league, per an announcement on Tuesday afternoon.

Goaltender Cayden Primeau (Laval), defensemen Joey Keane (Hartford/Charlotte) and Brogan Rafferty (Utica), as well as forwards Alex Formenton (Belleville) and Josh Norris (Belleville) round out the All-Rookie selections.

The 53rd overall selection to Boston in the second round of the 2017 National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft, Studnicka posted 23 goals and 26 assists for 49 points in 60 games for the P-Bruins en route to the Atlantic Division crown. The 21-year-old tied the AHL rookie record for shorthanded tallies with seven.

The Tecumseh, Ont. native has skated in two career NHL games with Boston, making his debut on Nov. 26 against the Montreal Canadiens, where he recorded an assist on Danton Heinen’s third period goal in an 8-1 win on the road.

In four seasons between the Oshawa Generals and Niagra Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Studnicka registered 80 goals and 153 assists for 233 points in 252 contests. Bruins past and present to have made the AHL’s All-Rookie squad include Zdeno Chara (1998), Jaroslav Halak (2007), Austin Czarnik (2016), and Frank Vatrano (2016).

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 179 that we recorded below on 5-17-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Providence Bruins Prospect Season Review: Jack Studnicka

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

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

With the AHL season officially over, and the NHL season still hanging in the balance, I thought it would be a good idea to look back at some of the top Bruins’ prospects and how they did this season. First up is the 2017 Boston Bruins second-round draft pick, Jack Studnicka. Coming into the 2019-2020 season, there was a lot of buzz surrounding the young center. He was coming off a season in the OHL, wherein 60 games with both the Oshawa Generals and the Niagra IceDogs he netted 36 goals while dishing out 47 assists for 83 total points (stats provided by EliteProspects). There was even talk that Studnicka could make the big club out of training camp.

While the Windsor, Ontario, Canada native didn’t crack Boston’s roster out of training camp, he would go on to have an excellent first full season in the AHL with Providence. In 60 games, he netted 23 goals while dishing out 26 assists for 49 total points. That’s .82 points per game, which would translate to roughly 67 total points over a full NHL season (stats provided by EliteProspects). Studnicka showed not only his own scoring ability, but he was also show off his playmaking ability as well. As a fan, this is the performance you’d like to see from a young, inexperienced prospect.

Studnicka was playing so well that he earned himself a mini two-game call-up to Boston. While with the big club, he would register his first NHL point, which was an assist. The young center would also be one of two Providence players named to the AHL All-Star roster. He would go on to help lead the Atlantic Division to an All-Star Challenge victory, netting two goals while dishing out one assist for three total points in the final game. As well as the former second-round pick played all year, he seemed to pick up his game as the season went on. Studnicka would register points in 15 of his last 20 games played, netting nine goals while dishing out 14 assists for 23 total points in that time frame (stats provided by the AHL official website).

One part of Studnicka’s game that also stood out, that many may not have expected was his defensive ability. The former second-round pick proved that he was just as good defensively as he was in the offensive zone. He showed off his defensive prowess by leading the AHL in shorthanded goals, with seven. No other player had more than four. Studnicka proved to be versatile, playing well in every zone. One major question remains concerning Studnicka. What happens now? I’d expect the young center to start the 2020-2021 season in Boston. He’s proven that he can play in the AHL. He could also either play center or wing in the NHL.

The Bruins have been pretty adamant about keeping Studnicka a center. This is why I’d expect him to crack the roster as a center next season. The potential with Studnicka is through the roof. He’s someone that could eventually be a top-six center for a team for many years to come. Look for him to have even more buzz next season with how well he played in Providence this year. Studnicka had as good of a season as you good hope for in a young player. I cannot wait to see what the future holds. I hope everyone is doing well through the current tough time. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 178 that we recorded below on 5-10-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

One Year Left on Boston’s David Krejci’s Contract

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(Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer / Associated Press)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Regardless of how the current NHL season plays out, David Krejci’s contract lives on.  He will be playing the last year of his 6-year, $43.5M contract next season and has recently commented on his future plans:

The 34-year-old centerman (Happy Birthday, David!) has been a staple on Boston’s top two lines since he entered the league in 2007.  He is a Stanley Cup champion and has averaged 53 points during his 13-year career (excluding the 6 games he played in 2006).  The question now becomes, does David retire a Bruin or will he be wearing a new jersey come 2021?

Krejci was drafted 63rd overall in 2004 out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).  He played two years in the QMJHL for the Gatineau Olympiques, where he totaled 144 points in 117 games.  Bruins management sent Krejci to their American Hockey League affiliate for the 2006-07 season for a conditioning stint.  Krejci tore through the AHL with 74 points in 69 games, which earned him a callup the following year.

He split his time between the Bruins and the Providence Bruins in the 2007-08 season, totaling 27 points in 56 games with the Bruins.  The split season seemed to work wonders for David because the following season, he set a career-high in points and plus/minus (73 and 37, respectively).  David achieved all of this in every single game that season (82) and contributed to one of the Bruins’ highest point total in history (116).

Krejci continued his point contribution in the playoffs, with eight points in 11 games.  David and the Bruins would, unfortunately, lose to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.  Though it was this year that Bruins fans and its management realized David’s best games came on the sport’s biggest stage.

Peter Chiarelli, Bruins General Manager from 2006-2015, made some key off-season deals in 2010, which brought Krejci the right-wing he’d been longing for.  Nathan Horton was acquired from the Florida Panthers, along with Gregory Campbell.  Horton had averaged 49 points in his six years with the Panthers.  He became the anchor alongside Krejci and Milan Lucic and even scored one of the most memorable goals in Bruins’ history.

Krejci was on the ice for the goal and was an integral part of creating space for Horton to score and beat the Bruins’ most hated rival.   In the next series against the Philadelphia Flyers, David’s clutch play continued, where he scored the overtime winner in game two and eventually helped sweep the Flyers out of the playoffs.

The Bruins went onto the Eastern Conference finals (ECF) with the Tampa Bay Lightning.  The series was grueling and exciting and featured one of the best games in Bruins’ history.  Game seven of this series featured a game with no penalties and only one goal scored, which Krejci had a hand in as well.  Most will remember Horton as the goal scorer, but Andrew Ference created the play and Krejci kept it alive for Horton to net the game-winner.

The Bruins traveled to Vancouver to face the President Trophy winner, the Canucks, in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.  Krejci’s torrid pace didn’t falter, and he collected the league-leading 23rd point in game six of the finals. The 2011 cup run was Krejci’s best all-around performance and paid off in the end for the Bruins organization.

Since the 2011 cup run, Krejci has totaled 323 points in 613 games and surpassed his career-high playoff point total once in 2013.  He was awarded his $7.25m per year contract in 2015 coming off of a 31-point shortened season due to injury.  Peter Chiarelli negotiated the contract with David and has been known to give outlandish deals to players.  Though Krejci deserved to be paid like a top-six forward, many experts felt Krejci’s trajectory was still trending upwards, and the deal was designed to get ahead of an even higher fair market value.

In today’s game, second-line centers are paid between the $7M and $8M range, excluding the elite stars like Evgeni Malkin.  In hindsight, Chiarelli paid Krejci to about where the market finished.  Since Don Sweeney took over the GM position, he has been a salary-cap genius.  He’s had a few flawed contracts, such as Matt Beleskey and David Backes, but he was able to sign the Bruins’ top line to a combined $19.7M.  Krejci’s number is a bit high considering this, but the deal was signed in a different regime.

An excellent comparison to Krejci is Nicklas Backstrom.  Backstrom is a 32-year old centerman who is playing the final year of his 10-year, $67M deal.  He currently has 927 career-points in 13 years with the Capitals and anchors their second line.  The deal carries a $6.7M per-year cap hit, but a total base salary that increased over the years to $8M this season.

Krejci will be 35 by the time his next deal expires.  If his body allows him to, he will continue his NHL-career.  He will most likely not take a significant pay decrease, especially if he continues his steady, productive play.  The Bruins want to avoid another David Backes situation, though it is unlikely Krejci will fall off the NHL cliff that Backes did due to his minimal bruising gameplay.  The Bruins could offer David a 3-year, $23M deal that pays David more money upfront to entice the centerman.

Another scenario the Bruins could entertain is what the Toronto Maple Leafs pulled off in signing both Mitchell Marner and John Tavares.  Both players have minimal base salaries ($700K to $900K) but are instead paid up to $15M in signing bonuses on July 1 of every year.  The Bruins will not pay David this much late in his career, but a similar structure is not out of the question.

A wrinkle in all of this, though, is the budding stars the Bruins have waiting in the AHL.  Jack Studnicka was enjoying a successful AHL rookie season before the season’s suspension.  He has 49 points in 60 games, which sits 13th in the AHL.  Even more impressive, Jack has a league-leading seven shorthanded goals.  He will most certainly get a fair shot at a center position for the Bruins next year.

Charlie Coyle puts a wrench in the Krejci situation as well.  Coyle was acquired from the Minnesota Wild two seasons ago for Ryan Donato.  Coyle recently signed a 6-year, $31.5M contract, which will keep him in a Bruins uniform until 2026.  The 28-year old has been the most consistent Bruin since joining the squad.  He anchors the Bruins third-line currently, which features a revolving door of prospects.  From a cap standpoint, the Bruins are better off keeping Bergeron as their 1C, Coyle at 2C, and Studnicka at 3C.  Studnicka will need to reassure Bruins management that he can handle Coyle’s workload before making the tough decision to let Krejci walk.

The Bruins could very likely have Bergeron, Krejci, Coyle, and Studnicka as their four centers for a few more years.  Krejci will just have to agree to a much smaller contract, one that will pay him close to $6.5M per year for three or four years.  This would definitely be a hometown discount, and it would keep him with the team that drafted him 17 years ago.  The Bruins probably won’t trade Krejci, unless they’re one hundred percent sure Studnicka can handle the third-line promotion.  A trade would likely not come mid-season either, but rather during the off-season.

Most Bruins prefer to see Krejci avoid the route Tom Brady just took, but the salary cap can be a cruel reality.  David is an extremely well-liked teammate and has been through all the ups and downs Bruins fans have endured these past 14 years.  Don Sweeney has a few contracts to deal with soon but has to be planning for David’s next deal in his amazing NHL-career.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 176 that we recorded below on 4-27-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

AHL Suspends Season, Halts Providence Bruins Impressive 2nd Half

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Unfortunately, the spread of the Covid-19 virus has taken a toll on the North American sports scene as many amateur, minor-pro, and professional leagues shut down operations to appropriately contain this global pandemic. BNG Senior Writer Max Mainville updated Bruins Nation shortly after hearing the official National Hockey League press release of the 2019-2 being suspended (Seen Here), well shortly after the  American Hockey League followed suit as seen below.

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This egregious effort to cancel large gatherings is a no-brainer, in my opinion, but it does put a serious wrench in the gears of beloved sports fans and what goes on in day-to-day lives. As many Boston Bruins fans know, the team is in first place in the NHL. With a six-point lead over last year’s Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues, they pause their 2019-20 campaign as a favorite to return and hopefully capture the organization’s seventh league championship. The NHL Bruins top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins have also reached impressive milestones this season with an outstanding second-half marching their way up the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with playoff-type games leading up to the recent halt of the regular season.

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The AHL team from the smallest state in the Union (United States) started a better part of the 2019-20 season in the middle of the Atlantic, but in the second half, the Providence club has really put the pressure on teams leading the way. A team such as the Hartford Wolf Pack, who ruled the early season, have taken a plunge since their parent NHL club the New York Rangers recalled phenom goaltender Igor Shesterkin. AHL Clubs like the Hershey Bears and Providence Bruins took advantage of the Wolf Packs downward spiral to be the new leaders of the Atlantic. If you follow the AHL on the regular, the Eastern Conference postseason outlook has been tight since the beginning of January, so you could already see organizations jockeying for Calder Cup Playoff positioning.

Before this sudden pause in the Providence regular season, the B’s were on a season-high 12 game point streak, which contributed to the recent successful rise up the AHL league standings but also a season-high 11 game winning streak. Another high point of the second half of this 2019-20 Providence Bruins season is the way the affiliate of the NHL B’s has played at home in front of the La Salle Square faithful. Before the recent consecutive winning success, the Providence club was a franchise dipping above and below the .500 mark for a better part of this season at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

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The Providence Bruins started the season off with a subpar home record of 7-8-0-1, but since the turn of the calendar year, have picked it up in front of the Providence faithful to produce a very respectable 10-3-2-1 record at the Dunk since the beginning of January 2020. Everything has been clicking nicely until today’s announcement, and as a media member under the credentials of the Providence organization, it’s going to be tough to see this what this minor-pro club has done this season to just stop and figure it out later. A huge chemistry speed bump, in my opinion, for everybody on this mission of a Calder Cup playoff run that I thought was coming this Spring.

The last time the AHL Providence franchise won season-ending bragging rights was in the 1998-99 campaign capturing a Regular-Season Title, Division Championship, Conference Championship, and raising the Calder Cup after beating the Rochester Americans in a seven-game series 4-1. I thought after watching this team and with the way goaltending from the backend was the catalyst to build on early on with the free-agent addition of Max Lagace. The 27-year-old Quebec, Canada native, was amongst the AHL league leaders when it came to highly ranked goaltenders. Lagace has been a solid depth netminder for the Bruins organization and might be Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney’s ace in the hole for another year of backup sustainability while on a cap-friendly contract.

Another member of the crease core in Providence is Dan Vladar, who I’ve always spoken high of has really turned his game around in the last season of his current three-year, entry-level contract. The former 2015 third-round draft pick is having his best pro season posting a 14-7-1 record with league-leading 1.79 goals-against-average, and .936 save percentage. The 22-year-old Czech Republic native is currently on a seven-game winning streak and, in that timeline producing an unbelievable 1.54 GAA and .940 Save%.

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Providence stands as the Eastern Conferences best team with a 38-18-3-3 record and 82 points and tied for second place league-wide with the Iowa Wild eight points behind  AHL leading Milwaukee Admirals who’re leading the league in its 84th year of operation as the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL. After how this team came together orchestrated by bench boss Jay Leach who many fans wanted to see fired every start of regular seasons unable to wait for the mid-season ramp up. Yes, in previous years, the Providence club would struggle severely due to the fact that the NHL Bruins were recalling players ripping apart any youthful chemistry facilitating the higher up parent club. In recent years the new calendar year has been a turning point for Leach and staff to get healthy players back in the lineup and have a stronger competitive season.

Regardless of my displeasure of this whole situation and where this Bruins minor club was going, I hope that all of our readers do the right thing for your families and friends to help the cause. We need our sport back, but we also have to get our healthy life cycle back in order so we can go to these awesome spectator sports venues in the near future. It’s unfortunate that I had to cancel planned trips to Providence to cover this team as a media member via the Providence franchise for our production team, but it’s also a great little city to hang out in. I will miss my regular visits to the Trinity Brew House for a Rueben Sandwich and cold Rhode Island IPA, and Murphy’s Providence for an interesting Irish menu feast. Be safe everyone and the Bruins prospect talk from our BNG team will continue to keep the interest going through tough times.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 169 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 24 Preview

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

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

Week 24 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 32-18-3-3 (82 points) and 10-0 in their last 10 games. This is good for first in the Atlantic Division and first in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a stellar week that saw them push their win streak to 12 games. Our boys in black and gold were able to beat Springfield twice before beating Hershey and Hartford. This weekend will have exciting hockey that you do not want to miss.

The weekend kicks off on Saturday, March 14, 2020, when the Providence Bruins invade Charlotte, North Carolina, to take on the Checkers at Bojangles’ Coliseum. The weekend action wraps up on Sunday, March 15, 2020, when the Providence Bruins take on the Charlotte Checkers at The Biscuit in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Saturday, March 14, 2020, and Sunday, March 15, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Charlotte Checkers (AWAY)

The weekend series between the Providence Bruins and Charlotte Checkers will be the fifth and sixth of eight meetings the two teams will have. In the first battle, the Providence Bruins would win 4-1. Brendan Woods (2), Scott Conway, and Robert Lantosi scored goals for the Bruins. Max Lagace was excellent in net stopping 28 of the 29 shots fired his way.

The second matchup saw the Bruins shutout the Checkers 4-0. Brendan Woods, Urho Vaakanainen, Pavel Shen, and Jack Studnicka found the back of the net. Dan Vladar was a wall, stopping all 36 shots he faced. The third game saw the Bruins fall 4-0. Max Lagace would go on top stop 39 of the 42 shots he faced. The most recent matchup wasn’t much better. The Bruins would be beaten 4-1. Robert Lantosi scored the lone goal for Providence.

Last season, the Charlotte Checkers were dominant. They would beat the Bruins in four games in the first round of the playoffs on their way to their first Calder Cup Championship. This season has been a bit of a different story. The Hurricanes’ affiliate skate into the match up 34-22-5 (73 points) and 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.

Something that led to their dominant season last year was their defense. Their defense only surrendered 189 goals, while they scored 255. That’s a +66 goal differential. This season has been a little different. The Charlotte club on the year has scored 202 goals while giving up 172. That’s a +30 goal differential. That means they’re scoring 3.31 goals a game while giving up 2.81.

To put those numbers into perspective, the Providence Bruins have played in one more game than Charlotte. They’ve scored 197 goals while giving up 154. That’s a +43 goal differential. This means they’re scoring 3.17 goals a game while giving up only 2.48. The Providence Bruins are 8-7-1 against Charlotte over the past five seasons. This includes 5-3 at the Checkers.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka finds himself in the hot category once again. The young forward is having a stellar season. In 60 games, he’s netted 23 goals while dishing out 26 assists for 49 total points. This includes netting nine goals while dishing out 14 assists for 23 total points over his last 18 games. Studnicka also finds himself registering a point in six of his last seven games. He’s netted three goals and dished out 5 assists for eight total points during that time. Studnicka is also becoming an elite penalty kill weapon. He’s registered seven shorthanded goals on the year. This is the most in the AHL.

Peter Cehlarik: Peter Cehlarik has fallen out of favor with the Boston Bruins in recent years. He’s had a few players jump ahead of him on the depth chart when it comes to callups. Despite this, the veteran forward has played well this season. In 48 games, he’s netted 16 goals while dishing 21 assists for 37 total points. This includes netting three goals and dishing out six assists for nine total points in his last nine games. Cehlarik has been a large part of the Bruins’ win streak.

Not

Robert Lantosi: Robert Lantosi is in his first full season with the Providence Bruins. Overall, it’s been a successful first season. In 50 games, he’s netted 11 goals while dishing out 20 assists for 31 total points. Despite these numbers, he’s only dished out two assists in his last six games. The young forward came to Providence after spending the previous season in his native Slovakia.

Brendan Woods: Brendan Woods came to Providence after spending the last two seasons in the Vancouver Canucks organization. In 49 games this season, he’s netted eight goals while dishing out 12 assists for 20 total points. This includes dishing out two assists in his last 10 games. Despite this, the 20 points did eclipse his total of 17 from last season. Hopefully, the veteran forward’s offense game is back soon.

My Player To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Jakub Lauko: Jakub Lauko came into this season with a lot of publicity. The young forward came to Providence after having a stellar season in the QMJHL with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. This season was derailed because of injuries before and during the World Junior Championships. In 22 games this season, he’s netted five goals while dishing out four assists for nine total points. He’s played in four games since returning from injury, netting a goal. Look for him this weekend.

On The Blue Line

Jakub Zboril: Jakub Zboril has had an up and down season with Providence. He’s also a player that has caused many different arguments amongst Bruins’ fans. In 58 games this season, he’s netted three goals and dished out 16 assists for 19total points. This includes netting one goal and dishing out four assists for five total points in his last four games. The young defenseman has also been playing better defense recently. Look for him this weekend.

In Net

Dan Vladar: Dan Vladar has had a superb season for the Providence Bruins. On the year, he’s 14-7-1 with a 1.79 GAA and a .936 save percentage. The young netminder has also registered three shutouts on the year. Vladar is also 1-1 with 1.51 GAA and a .956 save percentage against Charlotte this season.

The Providence Bruins are playing excellent hockey right now. Earlier in the year, I hammered home the point that this team was one of the most talented teams in the league. We are seeing that tenfold right now. The Providence club looks primed to make a deep run in the playoffs. I hope you enjoy the games this weekend. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 23 Preview

ProBru10

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

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

Week 23 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 34-18-3-3 (74 points) and 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and Third in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is going off a week that saw them push their winning streak to eight games, with wins over Springfield and Hartford. The Bruins are playing excellent hockey. You won’t want to miss this weekend.

The hockey action starts out on Friday, March 6, 2020, when the Springfield Thunderbirds invade Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunk. The action continues on Saturday, March 7, 2020, when the Providence Bruins return the favor and take on the Springfield Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. Then on Sunday, March 8, 2020, the Hershey Bears come to Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Finally, the week wraps up on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, when the Providence Bruins make their way to Hartford, Connecticut to take on the Wolf Pack at the XL Center.

Friday, March 6, 2020 (HOME) and Saturday, March 7, 2020 (AWAY), Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds

The weekend series will be the 11 and 12th 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 ninth 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 most recent chapter saw the Bruins win 3-1. Peter Cehlarik, Jack Studnicka, and Urho Vaakanainen netted goals. Dan Vladar stopped 31 of the 32 shots fired his way.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 30-26-2 (62 points) and 4-6 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, this is still a favorable matchup for the Providence Bruins. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 30-15-5 against the Panthers’ affiliate.

The Thunderbirds have been winning with inconsistent play. They’ve given up 179 goals in 58 games while scoring 183. This is a plus-four goal differential. This also means they are giving up 3.08 goals a game while scoring 3.15. The Springfield club is 8-4 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 2-19-1 when trailing after two periods.

To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 148 goals in 58 games while scoring 185. That is a +37 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.55 goals a game while scoring 3.18. The Providence club is 19-0 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 8, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Hershey Bears (HOME)

The Sunday battle will mark the sixth and final matchup, the Providence Bruins and Hershey Bears will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins would win 2-1 in overtime. They had goals from Ryan Fitzgerald and Brendan Gaunce (OT). Dan Vladar was excellent in net stopping 21 of 22 shots fired his way.

The second matchup saw the Providence club fall 5-3. They received goals from Brendan Woods, Paul Carey, and Jakub Zboril. Kyle Keyser was okay in net stopping 28 of 33 shots he faced. The third meeting saw the Bruins win 6-3. Ryan Fitzgerald, Paul Carey, Urho Vaakanainen (2), Jack Studnicka, and Trent Frederic scored goals. Sean Bonar, who has since been sent to the ECHL, stopped 25 of 28 shots he faced.

The fourth battle saw the Bruins win 7-6 in a shootout. Brendan Woods, Joona Koppanen, Urho Vaakanainen, Paul Carey, Jakub Lauko, and Oskar Steen had goals. Max Lagace stopped 17 of the 23 shots that were fired his way. The netminder would also contribute with an assist on the scoresheet. The most recent chapter saw Bruins 3-2 in a shootout. Peter Cehlarik would score both goals. Max Lagace would stop 30 of the 32 shots he faced.

The Hershey Bears come into the game 35-18-3-3 (55 points) and 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for first in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference. Providence has had success against the Washington affiliate going 17-9-1-2 over the five seasons. Including 7-7-1 on the road. Hershey comes into the game with the second-best defense in the Eastern Conference just behind Providence. They’ve given up 153 goals in 59 games. That’s only giving up 2.59 goals a game.

The Hershey Bears are 28-8-1-1 when they outshoot their opponents. They are also 9-10-2-2 when they are being outshot by their opponents. The Bruins, on the other hand, are 18-13-3-2 when they outshoot opponents and 12-5-0-1 when being outshot by opponents. The Washington affiliate is 12-3-1-1 when leading after the first period and 22-0-1-1 when leading after the second. However, they are just 6-8-2-1 when trailing after the first and 3-13-0-1 when down after two.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (AWAY)

The Wednesday matchup will mark the ninth 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 seventh 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 most recent battle saw the Bruins win 3-2. Oskar Steen, Jack Studnicka, and Brendan Gaunce would have goals. Max Lagace stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced.

The battle with the Hartford club is going to be challenging. The Rangers’ affiliate comes into the game 31-16-6-5 (73 points), including 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fourth 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 23-17-4-2, including 9-10-3-1 on the road. The Wolf Pack has seen success this season thanks to a stifling defense. They’ve given up only 161 goals in 58 games. That means they are only giving up 2.77 goals a game. This is the third-ranked defense in the Atlantic Division behind Providence and Hershey. Providence, on the other hand, has scored 185 goals in 58 games. That’s 3.18 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

Hot

Jack Studnicka: New week, same Studnicka. Jack Studnicka has been on fire over the last month of the season. The young forward continues to get better day in and day out. In 56 games, he’s netted 22 goals while dishing out 24 assists for 46 total points. This includes netting eight goals and dishing out 12 assists for 20 total points in his last 16 games. Studnicka has also registered a point in 12 of his last 16 games. If he keeps up his play, we will see Studnicka in Boston for good very soon.

Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce has been a force for a few weeks now. He’s been an excellent addition to the Providence club this season. In 48 games, he’s netted 17 goals and dished out 18 assists for 35 total points. The veteran forward is riding a nine-game point streak. In that time, he’s netted six goals while dishing out six assists for 12 total points. He’s played a major part in the Bruins’ current eight-game winning streak.

Not

Alex Petrovic: Alex Petrovic is in his first season with the Providence Bruins. Overall, he’s been successful. In 50 games, he’s netted two goals while dishing out 18 assists for 20 total points. Despite these numbers, he’s only dished out one assist for one total point in his last 21 games. That’s an extreme cold streak. Let’s hope that Petrovic can put that behind him.

Ryan Fitzgerald: Ryan Fitzgerald has had an up and down season. The veteran forward has seen his stock fall over the last few seasons. In 57 games this season, he’s netted 12 goals and dished out 13 assists for 25 total points. This includes not registering a point over his past five games. Despite the cold streak, the Bruins as a whole are playing well. Other players have been able to take up the slack. Let’s hope that Fitzgerald finds his offensive game soon.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Trent Frederic: Trent Frederic has had an excellent second full season in Providence. The young center has rounded out his game in all areas of the ice. In 55 games this season, he’s netted seven goals while dishing out 24 assists for 31 total points. This includes registering a point in four of his last five games. The former University of Wisconsin Badger has also played well against Springfield registering 10 points in 10 games.

On The Blue Line

Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen is another guy that’s had an up and down season for the Providence Bruins. In 50 games, he’s netted five goals while dishing out nine assists for 14 total points. The young defenseman has played well defensively, but his offensive game has been sporadic. Last weekend, he was able to break a four-game pointless streak with a goal. Look for him to come up big this weekend.

In Net

Max Lagace: Max Lagace has had an excellent first season with the Providence Bruins. The veteran goalie spent the last few seasons in the Vegas organization. Lagace is 21-7-3 this season, with a 2.38 GAA and a .918 save percentage. He’s also registered five shutouts. That ranks second in the AHL.

The Providence Bruins are riding an eight-game winning streak. They’ve played well against both teams they should beat, and teams ahead of them in the standings. The games this weekend will be important when it comes to playoff seeding. Hartford and Hershey are top teams in the East. Those two games will not be easy. I believe Providence can come out of the weekend with six of eight points. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Providence Bruins Continue To Roll With Six Straight Victories

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

On Wednesday night the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins were on the road in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for a mid-week contest against the Penguins. The top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins walked out of the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza with a significant 6-2 beatdown earning their sixth straight victory. The same two teams first faced each other in this two-game home and home series on Sunday, February 23rd, 2020, with the Providence club holding onto a 2-1 win at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

After a great start to the 2019-20 regular season campaign, the team from the smallest state in the Union went through a few bad times mid-season and many unsuccessful attempts to capture points in front of the hometown faithful. Hovering around .500 at home this season, the Bruins finally got back to winning ways at the La salle Squarefacility in the city’s capital to rise above that .500 mark at home with an impressive six-game stretch where Providence earned 11 of 12 points. During those consecutive games at the Dunk which took a better part of the month of February to complete, the Bruins now have a 15-10-2-2 home record. With last nights 6-2 road win in the state of Pennsylvania, the B’s continue to impress on the road and are in the top-five in the league with a 17-8-1-1 record away from the Dunk.

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Providence now sits in third place in the Atlantic Division and fourth place in the AHL’s Eastern Conference with a 32-18-3-3 overall record and 20 games remaining in the 2019-20 regular season. To go along with their six-game winning streak, the Providence club has actually earned seven points in the last seven games with an unfortunate 2-1 overtime loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers which kicked off the recent six-game homestand. The B’s are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and are starting to be a nuisance to the teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference with the B’s having 70 points in the fourth spot and only five points away from conference-leading Belleville Senators who’ve really kicked it up a notch to begin the second half of the season.

With last nights road win, the Providence team will finish this short three-game road trip with contests against the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday,  February 29th, 2020 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts and wrap things up away from the Dunk on Sunday, March 1st, 2020 at the XL Center against the Hartford Wolf Pack. Speaking of the Atlantic Division foe Wolf Pack team, if the 2020 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs started today, Hartford and Providence would meet each other in the best-of-five first-round series with the Wolf Pack dominating the Providence club with a 6-0-0-1 regular-season record. As of today in this potential 2020 Calder Cup playoff matchup, the Hartford team would obviously have home-ice advantage and with their play against Providence this season it would be a tough task for the B’s as the Wolf Pack have a 21-2-1-2 record at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut but have only been able to muster up a 9-12-5-3 record on the road.

Providence Players Who Deserve Mentions As The Team looks To Clinch Their Eighth Consecutive Calder Cup Playoff Appearance

Paul Carey

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

The Providence Captain has been one of the club’s higher point producers throughout the season but as a veteran of the game, his experience and knowledge have been an asset to head coach Jay Leach’s staff away from the bench. Young Bruins prospects that get recalls often give high praise of him when asked who’s helped them along the way to get prepared for the higher level.

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The 31-year-old Weymouth, Massachusetts forward should be on the decline at his age but he never really slows down and able to keep up with the younger developing players. Carey sits in the second spot when it comes to team scoring with 20-16-36 numbers and 3-1-4 numbers in his last fours games as most Providence forwards are starting to pick up offensively. Paul who’s signed for another season will continue to serve the NHL Bruins organization as an inspirational leader at the developing depth but also a solid backup plan in case he’s needed in an emergency with Boston.

Peter Cehlarik

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Cehlarik has missed a majority of games in February of 2020 but returned to the Providence lineup against Springfield on the 22nd and immediately got back to work offensively. Posting 1-1-2 numbers in the 7-4 victory over Atlantic Division rival Thunderbirds, the big 6′-2″ 205-pound versatile forward now has 2-2-4 in his last three games and his return and emergence couldn’t have been better timed as the Rhode Island team continues to climb the standings preparing for another postseason birth.

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So far this year the 24-year-old forward has appeared in 42 games for Providence posting 15-17-32 numbers and in his three games with the NHL Bruins in this 2019-20 campaign notched an assist before being waived for the purpose of AHL placement. Peter is another leader on a team full of good low-risk European talent and with 20 games remaining in this season, I believe he’s just getting warmed up as he’s auditioning for more time with the B’s organization as he’s a restricted free agent at the end of the year.

Trent Frederic

( Photo Credit: Team Shred Photography )

Trent possesses many attributes that you want to see in a young player that’s on the verge of starting a long NHL career. He has a good mind for the game and for a big kid has a tremendous pair of hands. He does have decent speed when needed but Frederic’s game, in my opinion, is how he grinds along the boards and in the dirty areas around the net. As many Bruins, fans already know, Trent is not afraid to mix it up or be a nuisance to an opposing team which he felt did his team wrong with liberties taken.

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Regardless of his heavy playing style, the former 2016 first-round pick of the Bruins has already passed his AHL career-high of 25 points in 55 games last season to 7-23-30 totals thus far in 53 games for his Providence club in 2019-20. Frederic who leads the AHL in penalty minutes is currently on a three-game point streak with four assists in his last three games. That hard-nosed grind it out style will be needed down the stretch and in the upcoming Calder Cup Playoffs if in fact the B’s get in and secure a spot.

Brendan Gaunce

( Photo Credit:  Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images )

Gaunce was a sneakingly smart free agent signing for the Boston Bruins when both sides agreed to a one-year two-way contract during the offseason. Brendan is another player with a heavy bag of attributes and solid plan “B” asset for the higher NHL Bruins if needed regardless of the situation. After missing almost a month in the early season with a concussion and facial lacerations from a suspendable open-ice hit from former Laval Rocket forward Michael McCarron he’s really stepped it up offensively in the second half of the year.

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Brendan is currently on a season-high seven-game point streak where he’s contributed 5-5-10 numbers in that timeframe. In his last 20 games, he’s posted 9-10-19 numbers and has been one of the veteran players that Head Coach Jay Leach can put in a multitude of situations including when a tenacious forechecker is needed. it’s hard to say if this career-high streak can be sustained but it’s been fun to watch as the club continues to gell together in hopes of a long postseason run.

Max Lagace

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Another great find for the Boston Bruins over the offseason as Legace started the year on fire and hovering at the top of the AHL’s top goaltenders when it comes to individual stats. Max signed a one-year, two-way contract last summer and not only was he going to be a solid veteran presence in the Providence crease, but he also came to the  Bruins organization with some NHL playing experience. When the AHL plays three games in three nights on a weekly schedule his athleticism and demeanor at the minor-pro level have been nothing but impressive.

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Lagace who started off like a firecracker to start the year as mentioned has appeared in 31 games thus far in 2019-20 posting a 20-7-3 regular-season record with a 2.40 goals-against-average, and .918 save percentage. The 27-year-old netminder is currently in second in the AHL in shutouts with five (Leader- Six) and riding a three-game winning streak and 7-2-1 in his last ten games. In that ten-game stretch the Quebec, Canada native has a 2.77 GAA and .908 Save%. It should be interesting to see how the goaltending will be planned out for Lagace down the stretch and potential postseason because of another Providence netminder who’s been on a tear since early December 2019.

Robert Lantosi

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

I have to give major props to the Boston Bruins scouting staff on the AHL free agent signing of forward and Czech native Lantosi. A low-risk high reward decision is certainly paying dividends in his rookie year in North America. Robert was invited to the 2019 Bruins development camp and the NHL B’s did their due diligence with scouting him up close and offering him a contract before the 2019-20 campaign started. Lantosi is an extremely fast forward that doesn’t exactly have the biggest Getty up and go stride but instead, it’s the hole-shot he creates with increased foot speed. He has really good edge work and offensive creativity to stickhandle in a phone booth.

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In his first year of AHL hockey, the 24-year-old Slovakia native has contributed 11-20-31 numbers and another player who’s earned the trust of Coach Leach and has the ability to play with anyone up and down the right side. He does have a sick one-timer in Pastrnak’s office and wish he’d use that weapon more often in key scoring situations like increased power-play time. In his last four games, Robert has posted 1-2-3 numbers as he as well needs to be strong down the stretch and in the postseason as he’s playing for another minor-pro contract after this season.

Jack Studnicka

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

I know many Jack Studnicka mega fans are boiling over with the fact that’s he’s not playing regularly in the NHL yet, I believe the Boston organization is doing the right thing. By keeping a player like this in with the top-minor pro affiliate allows him to continue to develop and absorb the different aspects of the games as he’s currently in his first full year of AHL hockey. With potential departures on the NHL roster by this fall, it’s no doubt in my mind he’ll earn a spot in Boston after working hard during the offseason and providing Bruins management with no option to send him back to Providence after a solid NHL training camp in the fall of 2020.

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Jack currently leads the Providence club with 20-22-42 numbers in 54 games and when it comes to special teams play he’s contributed three goals on the power-play and leads the AHL with six shorthanded goals. After going eight games without a point from late December 2019 to mid-January 2020, the former 2017 second-round pick snapped out of that pointless funk to produce 6-10-16 numbers in his last 14 games. Jack is so fun to watch because of his tremendous hockey intelligence and the way he maneuvers effortlessly through all three zones. Be patient Bruins fans because Studnicka is coming and if you’ve had the chance to watch him play throughout his development you know what kind of special player he can be.

Dan Vladar

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

A big netminder with a ton of potential but his first few seasons of minor pro developmental hockey have been up and down as he continues to learn the pro game. I’ve always been high on Dan and can see why the Bruins selected him with the third-round selection in 2015 as the second-ranked European goaltender per NHL Central Scouting. The 6′-5″ 195-pound Czech Republic native has the size to smother any lose pucks down low and has the athleticism to be an effective butterfly style netminder. His up and down years when it comes to season records shouldn’t be any indication of his future as all hockey players go through highs and lows trying to soak so much information in while training to be a world-class athlete.

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The beginning of the 2019-20 season didn’t exactly start off the way anyone expected. The 22-year-old got his first win of the regular season giving up one goal in a 21 save effort but in his next contest he gave up five at the Dunk in Providence to go 1-1 in the early season with a 3.05 GAA and .888 Save%. His next game in Laval, Quebec he suffered a high ankle sprain and was out for a better part of six weeks. when he returned on the 1st of December, he certainly blew me away with a 36 save shutout and a return to the ice playing a style I’ve never seen him play before. During his injury rehabilitation, he worked with Bruins goaltending coaches Bob Essensa and Mike Dunham to minimize his movements in the crease.

Since coming back in the last month of 2019, Vladar has a 10-7-1 record with three shutouts, a 1.91 GAA, and .931 Save%. Dan’s goals-against -average ranks second and save percentage ranks third in the AHL. He’s currently on a three-game winning streak which has the potential to extend with an appearance in one of the road games this weekend. The young goaltending prodigy has worked very well with the aforementioned Max Lagace as both netminders look for equal regular-season playing time down the stretch.

Jakub Zboril

( Photo Credit: Tumblr )

Not a fan favorite when selected by the Boston Bruins in the first round with what talent remained on the draft board after the Boston organization had three straight selections. Regardless of fan opinion and NHL playing time, I believe Zboril has been a good soldier even though he’s spent a majority of his development with the Providence Bruins. He plays an aggressive shutdown style of defense and although he’s not considered to be much of an offensive producer from the backend, the 23-year-old has the vision and quick hands for fast outlet passes for defensive transition out of the zone. Those quick decisions have got him into trouble on several occasions throughout his pro-development but it’s not a knock as he continues to learn patience in his all-around game.

With fellow blueliner Jeremy Lauzon up with the NHL Bruins, for now, the 6′-0″ 195-pound Czech Republic native, in my opinion, is having his best season so far in his minor-pro career and has even surpassed former first-rounder Urho Vaakanainen on my depth chart. His defensive awareness and overall play with more trust from Head Coach Leach has been a pleasure to see and should bode well in contract negotiations this summer as a restricted free agent. Not saying that he’d get an extension for permanent NHL duties but could be retained and continue to develop in Providence as future roster spots become available with potential departures. In 52 games this season Zboril has 2-12-14 numbers and logs a lot of minutes as a depth defenseman with seniority.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 22 Preview

ProBru9

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

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

Hot

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.

Not

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

Up Front

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.

In Net

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!

 

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 21 Preview

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 21 of the AHL season as arrived. The Providence Bruins are looking to maintain their playoff position as teams make a final push towards the post-season. The Bruins skate into the week 29-18-3-3 (64 points) and 6-2-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a week that saw them beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4-2. They would also beat Laval 3-0 before beating Bridgeport 3-2.

The hockey action starts on Saturday, February 22, 2020, when the Springfield Thunderbirds invade Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunk. The action continues on Sunday, February 23, 2020, when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins come to town to take on the Providence club at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The action wraps up on Wednesday, February 26, 2020, when the Providence Bruins invade Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania, to take on the Penguins at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (HOME)

The Saturday matchup will be the ninth 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 most recent 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 Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 28-23-2 (58 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 28-15-5 against the Panthers’ affiliate, including 14-8-2 at home.

The Thunderbirds have been winning with excellent defense. They’ve only given up 160 goals in 53 games while scoring 168. This is a plus-eight goal differential. This also means they are only giving up 3.01 goals a game while scoring 3.16. The Springfield club is 7-3 when leading after the first period. They are also 19-2 when leading after two periods. On the flip side, they are 5-10 when trailing after one period. They are also 1-17-1 when trailing after two periods.

To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 138 goals in 53 games while scoring 164. That is a +26 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.60 goals a game while scoring 3.09. The Providence club is 17-0 when leading after one period and 24-0 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, February 23, 2020 (HOME) and Wednesday, February 26, 2020 (AWAY), Providence Bruins vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

The home and home series will be the fourth and fifth of six matchups these two teams will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins won 6-0. They got goals from Tommy Marchin (2), Pavel Shen, Robert Lantosi, Jack Studnicka, and Peter Cehlarik. Goalie Max Lagace was superb in net, stopping all 38 shots fired his way. The second game saw the Bruins get shutout 1-0. Dan Vladar stopped 19 of the 20 shots he faced.

The most recent meeting saw the Bruins win 4-2. Josiah Didier, Brendan Gaunce, Joona Koppanen, and Jack Studnicka scored goals for the Providence club. Max Lagace would go on to stop 28 of the 30 shots he faced in net.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins skate into the contest 25-20-3-5 (58 points) and 5-4-0-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for sixth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence Bruins have had some success against the Pittsburgh affiliate over the past five years, going 14-7-3-3.

This could be an opportunity for the Providence Bruins power-play to gain some momentum. The Penguins have taken 207 penalties in 51 games. That means they are giving up 3.98 penalties a game. They’ve also given up 38 goals out of those 207 penalty kill opportunities. That’s 81.6%, which is good for eighth in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. This seems like the perfect storm for the Providence club to gain confidence on the power-play.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is also excellent when they get an early lead and keep it. They are 12-2-1-1 when leading after the first period and 13-0-1-1 when they are leading after the second period. The home and home series should be a close one. These two games are ones the Providence Bruins need to win to maintain their playoff spot.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce is in his first season with the Providence Bruins. The veteran forward spent the beginning of his career in the Vancouver Canucks’ system. In 43 games this season, he’s netted 14 goals while dishing out 13 assists for 27 total points. This includes netting three goals and dishing out two assists for five total points in his last six games. He’s also coming off an excellent weekend that saw him net goals in all three games. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka is in his first full season with the Providence Bruins. The young forward is having an excellent season. He’s fully solidified himself as the Bruins’ top prospect. In 51 games this season, he’s netted 19 goals and dished out 20 assists for 39 total points. This includes netting five goals and dishing out four assists for nine total points in his last seven games. Studnicka is also coming off an excellent weekend that saw him record a point in all three games.

Not

Robert Lantosi: Robert Lantosi is another guy that is in his first season with the Providence Bruins. The young forward came to Providence after spending last season in Slovakia. In 44 games this season, he’s netted 10 goals while dishing out 18 assists for 28 total points. This includes dishing out three assists for three total points in his last eight games. Despite an overall excellent season, his production has slowed down. Let’s hope he can find his offensive game this weekend.

Paul Carey: Paul Carey is in his first season as the Providence Bruins’ Captain. Overall he’s had an excellent season. In 52 games, he’s netted 18 goals while dishing out 15 assists for 33 total points. This includes netting one goal and dishing out two assists for three total points in his last 10 games. Despite his All-Star season, his production has also slowed down a bit. Let’s hope the former Boston College Eagle can find his offensive game soon.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Trent Frederic: Trent Frederic has had an excellent season for the Providence Bruins. In 50 games, he’s netted seven goals while dishing out 19 assists for 26 total points. The 26 total points are a new career-best for the former University of Wisconsin Badger. The young forward has also played well against the Bruins’ two-weekend opponents. In 10 games against Springfield and Wilkes-Barre Scranton, he’s netted two goals while dishing out eight assists for 10 total points. Look for him this weekend.

On The Blue Line

Jakub Zboril: Jakub Zboril is a guy who has had an up and down season with Providence. In 49 games this season, he’s netted two goals and dished out 10 assists for 12 total points. Despite his offensive numbers not being there, he’s played better this year than last. In nine games against Springfield and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season, he’s netted one goal and dished out three assists for four total points. Look for him to have a big weekend.

In Net

Dan Vladar: Dan Vladar has been excellent this season. The young goalie was injured early in the year but came back strong after. On the year, he’s 8-7-1 with a 1.79 GAA and a save percentage of .936. Vladar has also played well against Springfield this season, going 3-1 with a 2.51 GAA and a .924 save percentage.

The Providence Bruins are sitting firmly in a playoff position. Their games this weekend are against teams below them in the standings. This means they should come away with at the very least four points when all is said and done. This would help cushion their spot in the Atlantic Division. It should be an exciting weekend of hockey that you do not want to miss. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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