No Brainer For Next Providence Bruins Team Captain

( Photo Credit: @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

With the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins season over with the first-round Calder Cup Playoff elimination to the hands of the AHL’s best Charlotte Checkers, next seasons team will obviously see some new additions, but roles could also change when talking about leadership. Current Captain Jordan Szwarz who just finished his third season with the Providence club and posted 66-82-148 numbers in 185 games in that timeframe is on an expiring contract, and future playing in the Ocean State is uncertain.

The 27-year-old Szwarz who joined the Providence team as a free agent signing before the 2016-17 campaign immediately took on a leadership role with his arrival wearing the assistant captain label for his first two-years ultimately being named to the highest honor of captain for the length of last season.  So with the potential departure of Szwarz who’s played a significant middle depth role with the Bruins organization in emergency situations seeing 12 games in Boston earning three points, who could step into that role and lead the 2019-20 Providence Bruins?

His Name Is Weymouth, Massachusetts Native Paul Carey

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Carey, a 30-year-old versatile forward came to Providence on January 11th, 2019, when he was traded to the NHL Bruins from the Ottawa Senators straight up for defenseman Cody Goloubef. This was Carey’s second tour of duty with the AHL Bruins as he played 17 games after being traded from the Colorado Avalanche to Boston on March 2nd, 2015. In those 17 games, Paul posted seven points but the second trade that landed him in Rhode Island this year had him on the better part of the score sheet and made an immediate impact upon his arrival.

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While in Ontario, Canada with the Ottawa Senators organization, Carey’s numbers were different as he seemed heavy on the “pass first” motto with 5-22-27 numbers in 29 games with the AHL’s Belleville Senators but with his addition to the Providence lineup and solid 30 games going the opposite from his days in Belleville posting 22-11-33 numbers to end the regular 2018-19 season. His first ten games with Providence was certainly a “system shock” and a time of adjustment posting 5-4-9 numbers but his last 20 games were honestly a pleasure to watch going 17-7-24 to end the year.

Here’s Why Paul Carey Is My Pick For The Next Providence Captian

Carey’s stats as a journeyman AHL’er are 106-136-242 in 346 career games so at his age the trend is to decline on the stat sheet and overall game, but in Paul’s situation as a player in his 30’s, the anomaly of him getting better especially with his point production is astonishing to me. Another thing that caught my attention has been the powerful words of the developing depth talking about leadership in Providence and members of that team who’ve gone out of their way to be a solid pro and lend advice to players about to cross the threshold of professional hockey careers at the highest level.

A perfect example was in an April 3rd, 2019, article by Boston Bruins reporter Eric Russo when he interviewed first-time recall Zach Senyshyn who had these positive things to say about the leadership core in Providence with mentions to veteran forwards Carey, Szwarz, and Lee Stempniak as seen below from Eric’s article quote below.

“I’m still a young kid and really learning from the older guys,” said Senyshyn, who posted back-to-back 40-plus goal campaigns with the Soo Greyhounds in his final two seasons with the club. “Having guys like Lee Stempniak and Paul Carey and Jordan Szwarz, learning from those guys, has really helped me take my game to the next level. A lot of that has to do with them.”

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As a Boston Bruins fan and one that follows the lower developmental depths of this NHL organization, naming Carey as the next captain of the Providence Bruins is a no brainer for me. Remains to be seen if Szwarz is brought back and the recent two-year, two-way contract agreement between the B’s and Carey just lines up this tremendous honor for me and believe if he’s not in the mix of the NHL Bruins lineup next season after training camp he’d be a solid pro and will do what it takes to continue to be a mentor in Providence.

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Bruins Give Gritty Forward Blidh Contract Extension

( Photo Credit: NHL.com / BostonBruins.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Over the weekend I was contacted by a close source that the Boston Bruins had a deal in place with forward Anton Blidh as the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins were going through their exit meetings. The exit meeting came as the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL Bruins were back in the Ocean State on Monday after being eliminated by the AHL’s best in the regular season the Charlotte Checkers. Although the Providence club made the postseason for the seventh straight year, they were no match for the powerful Checkers losing the first-round best-of-five opening series 3-1. I tweeted this below as soon as I heard the news and what do ya know, I pretty much nailed it.

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Well, the B’s did, in fact, lock up the 24-year-old Swedish native to a two-year, two-way contract worth an annual cap hit of $700K. Per Cap-Friendly, Anton was set to make $650K at the NHL level and $80K in the AHL, so with today’s official announcement, he could make around the same if he stays in the minor system and used as that depth player in case of emergency’s. Blidh was three points shy of tying his career high of 26 points (11-15-26 2017/18) in 71 games last season. This past regular season the hardnosed forward posted 10-13-23 numbers in 74 games during the 2018-19 campaign.

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The former sixth-round selection of the B’s in 2013 certainly brings an impactful dynamic when it comes to playing that power forward role. He can be a pest along the boards and around the top of the crease forcing loose pucks and creating lucky bounce chances. One of my favorite attributes to his game and role in the developing depth of the Providence organization is his willingness to have a teammates back and not afraid to throw down when the opposition is taking liberties. Erik K. Piri of the Elite Prospects website in 2014 said “Blidh is a gritty winger who plays with a lot of energy. Can kill penalties and is a terrific shot blocker. Also owns some offensive instincts and a willingness to go hard to the net. Loves to agitate and rile up opponents.” 

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In 21 career NHL games, Blidh has contributed a goal and an assist and in 263 career games in the AHL all with Providence, he has 41-38-79 numbers and 219 career penalty minutes. Career +27 in the AHL for those who love to talk plus/minus. It remains to be seen what’s going to happen to Anton when the question of where he could play. As fantastic twitter follower BruinsNetwork mentioned above, contracted players, especially on the fourth line, may have Blidh placed in Providence, or he could be that cap friendly asset if the NHL Bruins don’t want to entertain a Noel Acciari return in 2019-20.

No matter if Anton is placed in the NHL or AHL he’s going to continue to be a value in the depth of this organization and a player that can be inserted into any lineup at any time. His leadership was tested last season as he wore the “A” behind team Captain Jordan Szwarz and with Jordan currently on an expiring contract himself, Blidh could be a solid choice to be the leader if there’s a Szwarz offseason departure.

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins First Round Playoff Update

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By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

A new week of playoff hockey is upon us and the Providence Bruins are right in the middle of their first-round series with the Charlotte Checkers. After splitting the first two game in Providence, the two teams traveled down to Charlotte, North Carolina to continue the series at the Bojangles’ Coliseum. Game three was a tough game for the Providence hockey club and the Hurricanes’ affiliate took the ever so important 2-1 series lead with game four on Friday, April 26, 2019. The baby B’s hope they can steal game four and push the series to a game five where anything could happen. It’s going to be an exciting finish to the series that you do not want to miss.

First Round Calder Cup Playoffs: Providence Bruins vs. Charlotte Checkers

Game One

Despite the slow start, game one was the one that got away for the Providence Bruins. The Checkers started off hot, less than two minutes into the game Morgan Geekie netted a goal that was assisted by Nick Shilkey and Andrew Poturalski. Then, a little more than two minutes later it was like deja vu all over again when Morgan Geekie netted another goal assisted by Andrew Poturalski and Nick Shilkey to make it 2-0 Charlotte less than four minutes into game one. After this, however, the Providence Bruins would come storming back. Captain Jordan Szwarz got the baby B’s on board netting a goal that was assisted by Anton Blidh. A few minutes later, on the power play, Cooper Zech took a feed from Zane McIntyre and tied the game up at two!

The Bruins would pull ahead less than a minute later when Anton Blidh scored on a feed from Trent Frederic and after the first period, it was 3-2 good guys! The second period was one that Providence would probably like back. was one that Providence would probably like back. It started out with Charlotte’s Tomas Jurco tying the game up at three on a goal that was assisted by Martin Necas and Jake Bean. Later in the second period, Julien Gauthier would put the Checkers up 4-3 on goal that was assisted by Nicolas Roy and Dennis Robertson, and that would be the score at the of the second period.

Now, during my preview one of the stats I pointed out was that the Hurricanes’ affiliate was 38-0 when leading after two periods in the regular season, this didn’t bode well for our boys. The Bruins would show signs of life in the third period, and almost seven minutes the Jordan Szwarz would get his second goal of the game assisted by Kyle Cumiskey and the game would be tied at four. However, later in the period, Bobby Sanguinetti would put the Checkers up for good on a goal that was assisted by Nicolas Roy. Checkers win 5-4 and lead the series 1-0. Zane McIntyre had a rough night in net for Providence stopping 22 of the 27 shots fired his way.

Game Two

Game two was the next day, and the Providence Bruins looked to even the series at one apiece. The Providence hockey club came out hot when Cooper Zech would net his second goal of the series. It was assisted by Jordan Szwarz and Paul Carey and the Boston affiliate took an early 1-0 lead. Then with a little over a minute left in the first period, Jack Studnicka would net his first professional goal on a feed from Lee Stempniak and Ryan Fitzgerald to make the score 2-0 and that would be the score at the end of the first period.

The score remained 2-0 for most of the second period, but with a little over two minutes left Andrew Poturalski would get the Checkers on the board on goal that was assisted by Trevor Carrick and Nicolas Roy. With under a minute to play in the second Charlotte would tie the game up at 2 with a goal from Dan Renouf that assisted by Andrew Poturalski and Morgan Geekie. It would remain 2-2 at the end of the second period. The third period started off slow but ended up being eventful. Almost 10 minutes into the period Peter Cehlarik would put Providence up 3-2 on a goal assisted by Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic.

It would stay that way until the very end of the game when Chris Breen would add an empty net goal with one second left to make it a 4-2 game. Bruins win and tie the series up at 1-1. Dan Vladar was great in net stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced. At the end of the game as the empty net goal was being scored a scrum broke out and two Bruins players (Jordan Szwarz and Lee Stempniak) and three Checkers players (Trevor Carrick, Tomas Jurco, and Bobby Sanguinetti) were given game misconducts. This is significant because Bobby Sanguinetti was suspended one game for his role in the scrum and Trevor Carrick has been suspended three games for leaving the bench during an altercation.

Game Three

Both teams packed up and set sail for Charlotte, North Carolina where the rest of the series will be played at the Bojangles’ Coliseum. The Checkers came out strong in the first period and about halfway through Andrew Poturalski scored his second goal of the series which was assisted by Aleksi Saarela to put them on top 1-0. About four minutes later Charlotte would go up 2-0 when Morgan Geekie scored his third goal of the series which was assisted by Jake Bean and Andrew Poturalski and the period would end with the Hurricanes’ affiliate up 2-0. Both teams would put up a goose egg in the second period and at the end of two, it was still 2-0 Checkers.

Again, going back to game one the Charlotte hockey club including regular season play was now 39-0 when leading after two periods. About a minute into the third period Andrew Poturalski would net an unassisted goal his second of the game and third of the series to put Charlotte on top 3-0 and that would go on to be your final with the Carolina affiliate now up 2-1 in the series. Goalie Zane McIntyre was adequate in net stopping 25 of the 28 shots he faced. Something else of note, Dan Vladar was set to start game three but an injury during the pre-game skate forced Zane McIntyre into the lineup.

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

Hot

Cooper ZechCooper Zech has been great for Providence this series. In the three games, he netted two goals and has two total points. He came over to Providence in March signing as an undrafted free agent after his freshman year at Ferris State. While there, he led the team in scoring netting eight goals and dishing out 20 assists for 28 total points in 36 games. That’s a point per game total of 0.77. In 12 regular season games with Providence, the young defenseman didn’t find the back of the net but did dish out four assists for four total points. That’s a 0.33 point per game total in a limited sample. Hopefully, Zech can keep up his hot play and provide both offense and defense for the Bruins the rest of the series.

Jordan SzwarzThe Captain has been great for Providence this series. In the three games, he has netted two goals and dished out one assist for three total points. Szwarz had another great season for Providence in 68 games he netted 23 goals while dishing out 23 assists for 46 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.67. The OHL product will need to continue to play well if the Bruins hope to take games four and five in Charlotte.

Not

Zane McIntyre: Zane had a pretty good regular season for Providence. He was 25-14-7 with a GAA of 2.59 and a save percentage of 0.898. This series, however, has been bad for the North Dakota alum. In two games the veteran netminder is 0-2 with a GAA of 4.14 and a save percentage of 0.855. With the injury to Vladar before game three, and the severity of it unknown, the Bruins need McIntyre to pick up his play if they hope to move on to the second round of the playoffs.

Zach SenyshynZach Senyshyn had an up and down regular season. The speedster showed some flashes of being elite, and at times looked a little lost. In 66 games with Providence, he netted 14 goals and dished out 10 assists for 24 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.36. The young winger did get a call up to Boston and in two games netted a goal for his only point. That was something I was hoping would catapult him into a big playoff series, but in three games against Charlotte he has yet to register a point and if the Bruins want to advance to the next round, they need more offense.

Outlook for the rest of the series

A couple of things I said in my preview for the series that were important were overall team defense and would the Bruins get enough offense to win games. Both points seem to be rearing their ugly head as the team defense in game one as well as game three were suspect, and the Bruins just didn’t get enough offense especially in game three. Providence only had 20 shots on net in the game three loss and that just is not going to cut it and if the baby B’s hope to move onto the second round they need to generate more opportunities.

Before Wednesday night’s contest at Bojangles Coliseum, Providence rookie goaltender Dan Vladar went down with a lower body injury which is rumored to be a hamstring issue. With Zane McIntyre spending time with Boston as the “black ace” third goaltender, another rumor floating around the Boston Bruins organization is B’s goaltending prospect Kyle Keyser “could” get his first AHL start in goal in his first Calder Cup Playoff game. The 20-year-old Keyser recently ended his year with the Oshawa Generals a team who was eliminated in the  third  round of OHL playoffs to the hands of the leagues best Ottawa 67”s.

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I think that the boys in black and gold can win two in a row and still take this series. They proved earlier in the year that they could beat Charlotte on the road. Like I stated earlier game four will be Friday, April 26, 2019, and it will be one you do not want to miss. If Providence can come out on top, then the deciding game five would be Saturday, April 27, 2019. Let’s hope they can take game four Friday night! 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 series and Go, B’s, Go!

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins First Round Playoff Preview

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( Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

After a grueling 76-game schedule, the AHL regular season has come to an end. The Providence Bruins finished off the year 38-27-8-3 (87 points) and 5-5 in their last 10 games. This was not only good for fourth in the Atlantic Division, and seventh in the Eastern Conference but also a spot in the coveted Calder Cup Playoffs. Our baby B’s will take on the Carolina Hurricanes’ affiliate the Charlotte Checkers in the first round. The hard-hitting playoff action begins on Saturday, April 20, 2019, at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. It’s going to be an exciting series that you do not want to miss.

First Round Calder Cup Playoffs: Providence Bruins vs. Charlotte Checkers

The Providence Bruins will be in the playoffs for the 22nd time since 1987 and the 20th time since the team moved to Providence in 1992. Their first two playoff appearances were as the Maine Mariners in 1987-88 and 1990-91. The baby B’s will look to capture their second Calder Cup with their only one coming in the 1998-99 season. Our boys in black and gold will take on the Charlotte Checkers who are the top-ranked team in the Atlantic Division as well as the Eastern Conference. The first-round schedule will be as follows:

Game 1 Saturday, April 20, 2019: Providence vs. Charlotte at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence, RI

Game 2 Sunday, April 21, 2019: Providence vs. Charlotte at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence, RI

Game 3 Wednesday, April 24, 2019: Providence vs. Charlotte at the Bojangles’ Coliseum, Charlotte, NC

Game 4 Friday, April 26, 2019: Providence vs. Charlotte at the Bojangles’ Coliseum, Charlotte, NC*

Game 5 Saturday, April 27, 2019: Providence vs. Charlotte at the Bojangles’ Coliseum, Charlotte, NC*

*If Necessary

The Charlotte Checkers finished the year 51-17-7-1 (110 points) and 8-2 in their last 10 games. During the regular season, the Providence Bruins and the Hurricanes’ affiliate played eight times with the Providence hockey club going 4-3-1. In the first installment of the season series, the Carolina Hurricanes’ affiliate beat the Baby B’s 4-3 with the Bruins getting goals from the now departed Jan Kovar, Trent Frederic, and Jordan Szwarz. Meanwhile, goalie, Dan Vladar had a rough night in net turning away 20 of the 24 shots he faced. The second meeting did not yield better results for our boys in black and gold as the Checkers won 3-2 with the Bruins getting goals from Peter Cehlarik and Ryan Fitzgerald while goalie, Zane McIntyre played valiantly stopping 17 of 20 shots in the loss.

The third match-up between the two clubs saw the spoked P finally break through winning 2-1. They got goals from Peter Cehlarik and Jordan Szwarz. Zane McIntyre was superb in net turning away 25 of the 26 shots that were fired his way. The fourth installment between these two teams the Baby B’s fell in OT to Charlotte 3-2 getting goals from Jordan Szwarz and Trent Frederic. Zane McIntyre was great in net again, turning away 44 of the 47 shots he faced, and he pitched in with the rare goalie assist. The fifth meeting between the two clubs saw the spoked P beat the Hurricanes’ affiliate 5-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Trent Frederic (2), Gemel Smith, Paul Carey, and Karson Kuhlman. Zane McIntyre was very good in net turning away 24 of the 27 shots he faced.

In the sixth game of the season series, The Bruins beat the Checkers 2-1 in overtime getting goals from the now Ryan Donato, and Cameron Hughes (OT GW). Goalie Zane McIntyre was superb in net stopping 28 of the 29 shots he faced. The seventh grudge match saw the Baby B’s beat Charlotte 1-0 in overtime getting their game-winning goal from Gemel Smith. Goalie Dan Vladar was excellent in net turning away all 37 shots he faced. The final game of the season series saw Providence fall 3-2 getting goals from Paul Carey and Jakub Zboril. In net, Dan Vladar was good stopping 29 of the 32 shots that were fired his way.

There are many different keys to victory for the Providence Bruins, and the first one is special teams play. The Charlotte Checkers had the second-ranked power play unit in the Atlantic Division and the fifth-ranked in the Eastern Conference at 19.7%. Along those same lines, the Carolina affiliate also scored the second-most overall power play goals in the Atlantic Division and fourth-most in the Eastern Conference with 61. Meanwhile, the baby B’s penalty kill that will be dealing with that power play is quite good ranked third in the Atlantic Division as well as the Eastern Conference at 85%. The spoked P has given up 47 power play goals, and only two other teams have given up less than that amount in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.

On top of that, the boys in black and gold scored 12 shorthanded goals, this was the most in the Atlantic, and third most in the East. The Bruins’ power play was less than spectacular on the season. At 17.7% it was ranked sixth in the Atlantic and 12th in the East. Our boys in black and gold scored 56 power play goals this was 10th most in the conference and fifth most in the division. Meanwhile, the penalty kill for Charlotte was elite all year. At 86.6%, it was top in the Atlantic as well as the East. The Checkers only gave up 41 power play goals this was also top in the conference and division. The one thing the Hurricanes’ affiliate didn’t do was score shorthanded goals. They nabbed six on the year. Only two teams in the Atlantic and the East scored less.

Another major key to the series will be grabbing an early lead and keeping it. When leading after the first period, the Checkers are 30-5-1-1. The Providence hockey club is 17-7-3-1 when they are leading at the end of one. When ahead after the second period, the Charlotte hockey club is an astounding 38-0. The Bruins, on the other hand, are 30-4-2-2 in the same scenario. The other major key to winning is will the baby B’s get enough scoring. The boys in black and gold scored a total of 228 goals on the year which is 3.00 goals a game. This was good for 10th in the East. The Checkers only gave up 189 goals on the year which is 2.48 goals a game. Only one team was better than that in the Eastern Conference. If the Providence Bruins want to win, they are going to have to get scoring from everyone.

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

Hot

Jordan SzwarzJordan Szwarz has had a great season for Providence. The Bruins’ Captain in 68 games played netted 23 goals while dishing out 23 assists for 46 points. That’s a point per game total of 0.67. That it includes netting five goals and dishing out 12 assists for 17 total points in his last 17 games. The OHL product has been essential to the success of the baby B’s and when he scored his 20th goal on the year, he became the fifth player in Providence Bruins history to score 20+ goals in three different seasons. It’s safe to say that if the gritty forward is doing well so are the Providence Bruins. If they want to take out the Eastern Conference-leading Checkers, then Szwarz is going to need a big series.

Gemel Smith: Gemel Smith has had an excellent season since coming over to Boston in a trade with Dallas back in December. After three games with the big club, the OHL product was sent to the AHL and excelled almost instantly recording points in nine of his first 12 games. Recently, he has still been great. Over his past nine games, the gritty forward has found the back of the net three times while also dishing out six assists for nine total points. The Former Stars’ draft pick is another player crucial to the success of the Providence Bruins as a whole, and they need him to come up big in the Calder Cup playoffs.

Not

Peter CehlarikPeter Cehlarik has been good for the Providence Bruins as a whole this season, and his play recently shows that he might be turning the corner on the mini-slump that he was in, but I am not willing to say he’s out of the not category just yet. In 53 games with the Providence Bruins, he netted 12 goals and dished out 26 assists for 38 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.71. The SHL product has not netted a goal since March 22, 2019, but has dished out seven assists in that time frame. Hopefully, the Slovakian native can pick up his game for the Calder Cup playoffs. The baby B’s are going to need all the scoring they can get.

Ryan Fitzgerald: Ryan Fitzgerald is another guy that overall has had a good season for Providence, despite some adversity. The former Boston College Eagle was arguably the best forward for Providence over the first few months of the season, and then injury derailed the year a little bit. In 61 games, the gritty forward has netted nine goals while dishing out 28 assists for 37 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.60. Despite this, Fitzgerald has only found the back of the net once and dished out three assists for four total points in his last 13 games. The Bruins will need the winger to pick up his play in the playoffs if they hope to capture Calder Cup immortality.

My players to watch this series

Up Front

Trent Frederic: Trent Frederic has had an up and down season for Providence. It was his first full professional season, and he played well at times but also disappeared on the ice at times as well. The former University of Wisconsin Badger played in 55 games for the baby B’s as well as 15 games with the big club in Boston. With Providence, the young center netted 14 goals while dishing out 11 assists for 25 total points. That is a point per game total of 0.45. Despite this, his play has been strong as of late and he even registered his first career hattrick against Springfield in the playoff-clinching win. On top of that, he played very well against Charlotte this season netting four goals and dishing out one assist for five total points in four games against them this year. Look for him to have a big series and be crucial to the team’s success.

On the Blue Line: 

Victor Berglund: This one may surprise you a bit considering he has only played in four games since coming over from the Swedish Allsvenskan league in late March, but I think he is someone that could end up playing a huge part in the Providence Bruins’ quest for the Calder Cup. In the four games he has played in he’s netted one goal and dished out 1 assist for two total points. To top it off, the young defenseman from Sweden played well overall. He looked good on the ice. The defense is something that is going to play a major role in the outcome of this series, and I think Berglund can help solidify Providence on the back end.

In Net

Zane McIntyre: Zane McIntyre is another player that had an overall solid season for Providence. On the year, he was 25-14-7 with a .898 save percentage and goals against average of 2.59. The veteran netminder also played a lot better at home than on the road this year with 20 of his 25 wins coming at the Dunk this season. The first two games of this series are in Providence, so if he can play well the baby, B’s could be up 2-0 going back two Charlotte. To top it off, in five games against Charlotte this season, the University of North Dakota alum was 3-1-1 with a .926 save percentage and goals against average of 2.14. He will play a major role in whether the Bruins are successful this postseason.

The Calder Cup playoffs are here, and our Providence Bruins are lucky enough to have a spot in the tournament. The baby B’s do have an uphill battle playing against not only the number one team in the Atlantic Division but also the Eastern Conference. Despite this, our boys in black and gold went 4-3-1 against Charlotte this season and over the past five seasons are 6-5-1. This means the teams are more evenly matched than stats and records may indicate. If the Providence hockey club can take both games at the Dunk this weekend, then I think they will go on to win the series. It all starts on Saturday and I hope everyone is excited. 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 series and Go, B’s, Go!

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Weekend Recap

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Sam Fryman  |  Follow Me On Twitter @sfryman20

 

There’s an old saying regarding April showers and what they may bring. For the Providence Bruins, that has meant two things to begin the month. Many goals and many games consecutively to make the team work harder than they ever have before. The first two games of the weekend came against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in a home and away series, giving the Bruins a chance to decrease their magic number to nearly zero.

Friday, April 5, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Home)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

First Period:

The game started as quickly as one could imagine with Bridgeport’s Grant Hutton getting his first goal of the season just over a minute into the game. The goal came on the power play with Providence’s Jeremy Lauzon getting called for hooking at the 49-second mark. Just one minute later the Bruins would answer back with the gritty play of Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. JFK made a great play behind the cage of Jeremy Smith that managed to get across the line. The tally also kept his scoring streak intact.

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Another player looking to extend a streak was Paul Carey, and he would get the chance to do so at the 9:40 mark thanks to another Bruins’ power play. The alternate captain sent a great pass from circle to circle where Gemel Smith was waiting to put a one-timer in the back of the net. Thanks to the Sound Tigers second hooking call in as many minutes, the Bruins increased their lead to two with a goal from Ryan Fitzgerald. For Fitzgerald, it was a quick shot from the high slot, given plenty of help from his teammates on the second power-play unit. While Bridgeport would get one back late, the Bruins ended the period outshooting their opponents by a two to one margin.

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Score: 3-2 Bruins

Second Period:

In the second period, the Bruins would prove that when it rains, it pours. At the 3:37 mark, they would start an offensive barrage that would see them score three goals in just under two minutes of playing time. Mark McNeil, Paul Carey, and rookie Bruin Victor Berglund scored in that order. All three exhibited some fantastic dangles on their goals. As they did in the first period; however, the Sound Tigers would battle back and cut the lead back down to two. Otto Koivula and highly touted prospect Josh Ho-Sang were responsible for the Bridgeport tallies.

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Score: 6-4 Bruins

Third Period:

Entering the third, special teams had worked very well in favor of Providence, and they would get another opportunity to prove themselves. With Bridgeport defender Kyle Burroughs in the box for holding, Bruins captain Jordan Szwarz netted his 22nd goal of the season, deflecting a slap shot from Paul Carey. The score left the Bruins three for four with the man advantage, one of their best special teams showings this season. Carey would cap off a four-point night with an empty netter to seal the game after Bridgeport had gotten the Providence lead down to one. The final score marked the most goals the Bruins have scored in a game this season.

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Final: 8-6 Bruins

Saturday, April 6, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Away)

( Photo Credit: Gregory Vasil/Getty Images )

First Period:

Coming into the second game of the weekend, Bridgeport certainly wanted to put Friday’s game behind them. The Bruins had the opportunity to decrease their magic number to six, but it was the Sound Tigers who came out with the fire early. Ryan Bourque tipped in a shot to give the home squad a 1-0 lead just 3:29 into the game. After Jakub Zboril was sent to the box for tripping, Oliver Wahlstrom doubled the lead for Bridgeport, and the Bruins were in a hole before the halfway mark of the first period.

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Late in the first frame, the hottest Bruin of the last few games would continue to be hotter than an inferno. Paul Carey was able to walk in and net his 24th goal of the season to cut the lead in half with just about four minutes left in the period. With 42 seconds left in the period, Carey did it again to leave the game tied as the first frame came to a close. Jordan Szwarz picked up an assist on Carey’s second of the night.

Score: 2-2

Second Period:

The second period turned out to be fairly even between the two teams until late. Right after the penalty kill had come up large for the Bruins, Ryan Bourque was able to net his second of the night to give Bridgeport their second lead of the night. Although Dan Vladar continues to come up big, Providence couldn’t capitalize on their man advantage chances, and they ended the second period behind.

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Score: 3-2 Sound Tigers

Third Period:

In the final twenty minutes, Bridgeport was able to get a big insurance goal as Travis St. Denis was able to put a rebound past Vladar to make the lead 4-2. Despite JFK adding a critical tally late, it wouldn’t be enough for the Bruins to overcome and the magic number would stay stagnant going into the final matchup of the weekend against the Utica Comets. After the final whistle, the tempers would get the best of the Bruins as Mark McNeil would get a fighting major as well as a game misconduct for throwing punches after the game was declared official. Providence would also get some needed reinforcements back as Boston announced that Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic, Jeremy Lauzon, and Zach Senyshyn would return to the AHL.

Final: 4-3 Sound Tigers

Sunday, April 7, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Utica Comets (Home)

( Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins/Flickr )

First Period:

Zane McIntyre was back in net for the Bruins as a revamped squad was ready to take on Utica and get their magic number down to one with only a few games remaining in the regular season. All four of the Bruins latest additions from Boston were in the starting five and came out with a solid burst of offense. Just like Saturday’s contest, however, the opponents would get on the board first with Vincent Arseneau netting his 8th goal of the season for the Comets. Providence would get two late power-play opportunities but wouldn’t get the game tied as the first twenty minutes came to a close. The shot total was in favor of the Comets 10-8.

Score: 1-0 Comets

Second Period:

Late in the second frame, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson made it three consecutive games with a goal as he tied the game with a fantastic wrist shot from the near side circle. Zech and Cehlarik picked up the assists at the 16:42 mark. The tally also gave the Bruins a power play tally in each one of their games during the weekend. Utica goalie Ivan Kulbakov remained strong for the rest of the period to keep the game and the shot total even.

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Score: 1-1

Third Period:

In the third period, the Bruins would make it a game in their favor with two more players that had provided offense all weekend long. Paul Carey gave Providence the lead right off of the draw with his 26th tally of the season to give the Bruins a one-goal lead. Anton Blidh then finished off the game with an empty net goal, and the Bruins magic number was moved down to just one. Jordan Szwarz picked up the assists on both third-period goals to give him yet another multi-point game. It was certainly a weekend to remember for Providence, and with a magic number as low as it can possibly be they will play another three in three to close out the regular season.

Final: 3-1 Bruins

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 25 Preview

providencebruins

Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 25 of the AHL season is here, and the Providence Bruins skate into it 34-23-8-3 (79 points) and 6-2-1-1 in their last 10 games this is good for third in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. With just eight games left in the regular season, the baby B’s are making their final push towards the playoffs. Right now, our boys in black and gold sit firmly in the middle of the playoff picture. They’ve played well recently, and we hope they can finish strong the last few weeks of the season. This weekend won’t be an easy one with both games coming on the road against strong opponents, but we will get an idea of what this team may be able to do come playoff time.

The weekend kicks off on Friday, March 29, 2019, when the Providence Bruins skate into Syracuse, New York to take on the home team Syracuse Crunch at The Oncenter War Memorial Arena. The weekend then continues Saturday, March 30, 2019, when the baby B’s invade the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania to take on the home team Hershey Bears. Both games will serve as a test for the Providence hockey club, with both of their opponents sitting in playoff spots. It’s going to be an exciting weekend of hockey that you would kick yourself for missing.

Friday, March 29, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Syracuse Crunch (AWAY)

The Friday night contest marks the second time these two teams have played each other this season. The first meeting saw the Providence Bruins blank the Crunch 4-0 getting goals from Cameron Hughes, Karson Kuhlman (2), and the now departed Ryan Donato. Goalie Zane McIntyre was superb in net turning away all 27 shots fired his way. The Crunch come into the game 42-19-4-3 (91 points) and 6-2-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for first in the North Division and second in the Eastern Conference. They are also one of two teams to already secure a playoff spot.

Over the past five seasons, the two teams have not played each other much because they are in different divisions, but the Bruins have a record of 2-3 against the Crunch in that time frame. Something to keep an eye too, the Crunch are 24-6-1-2 at home. With the Providence club being 12-15-4-2 on the road it’ll be a tough task. The Syracuse Crunch score a lot of goals. It is going to take a total team effort defensively to keep them off the score-sheet, and team defense is going to be a major key for the Bruins if they want to win. In 68 games the Tampa Bay affiliate has scored 235 goals. This is good for the most in not only the Eastern Conference but the entire AHL. That’s an eye-popping 3.45 goals a game.

Luckily, for the Baby B’s they boast one of the best defenses in the Eastern Conference giving up 184 goals in 68 games played which is 2.70 goals a game. Another reason why I said it would take team defense to beat the Crunch is that you can’t stop just one guy or even one line from scoring and be okay. They have nine players with a point per game total of at least 0.60 and six of those players have at least 40 points on the year. It should be an exciting game from Syracuse, New York.

Saturday, March 30, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Hershey Bears (AWAY)

The Saturday games will mark the sixth time 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 fourth match-up between the two clubs saw the Bruins win 3-2 in a shootout getting goals from Jordan Szwarz, Paul Carey, and Anton Blidh (SO). Goalie Zane McIntyre was excellent in net stopping 28 of the 30 shots fired his way. The most recent battle saw the Bruins win 4-3 in overtime getting goals from Trent Frederic, Urho Vaakanainen, and Paul Carey (2). Goalie Dan Vladar was able to earn the win stopping 19 of the 22 shots that were sent his way.

The Hershey Bears skate into the weekend 36-24-3-4 (79 points) and 4-3-2-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference.  Over the past five seasons, Providence is 15-7-2-1 against Hershey going 5-5-2 at the Giant Center in that time frame. Despite the record in Hershey, this should be a good match-up for our boys in black and gold based on how they’ve played the Capitals’ affiliate overall not only this season but over the past five seasons. With both teams being neck and neck with each other, this game is going to be very important to the playoff seeding.

The first key is who is leading after the first and second periods. Hershey is 19-3-0-3 when they are ahead after the first period of action. They are also 25-1-1-2 when leading after two. Meanwhile, when down after one their records dips to 5-12-1-1 and when trailing after the second it falls even further to 5-21-1-1. On the other side, the Providence Bruins are 16-6-3-1 when ahead after the first period and 27-3-2-2 when they are leading after two. When trailing after one, their record dips to 7-15-2 and when down after two periods it dips even further to 4-19-3. 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 184 in their 68 games played. This means they are giving up 2.70 goals a game. On the other side of things, the Hershey Bears are ranked seventh in the Eastern Conference in goals against with 199 in their 67 games played. This is 2.97 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 +17. A combination of the Bruins’ stingy defense and the Bears’ mediocre offense bodes well for our boys in black and gold this weekend.

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

Hot

Jordan SzwarzThe Bruins Captain has been very good for the team this season. In 60 games for the Providence hockey club, the veteran forward has found the back of the net 21 times while dishing out 17 assists for 38 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.63. Recently, in the game against the Belleville Senators on March 22, 2019, the OHL product scored his 20th goal of the season. This made Szwarz the fifth player in Providence Bruins history to record 20+ goals in a season for three separate seasons. On top of that, the Captain has recorded a point in seven of his last 10 games finding the back of the net three times while also dishing out six assists for nine total points. Congratulations to Szwarz on the accomplishment and let’s hope he keeps it rolling this weekend.

Trent Frederic: Trent Frederic has had a pretty good year for Providence. While he has proven to be a streaky player, he’s also had a few different call-ups to Boston playing in 13 games for the big club. In 48 games with the Baby B’s the former University of Wisconsin Badger has netted 11 goals while also dishing out 11 assists for 22 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.46. That includes registering a point in four of the past six games the young forward has played in for Providence. Netting one goal and dishing three assists for four points in that time frame. Frederic is one of the better prospects the Boston Bruins have so it’s nice seeing the center find his scoring touch at the end of his first full professional season.

Not

Ryan Fitzgerald: Ryan Fitzgerald has had an up and down season for Providence. The former Boston College Eagle started out the year on fire. He was leading the team in scoring, and really showing off his playmaking ability. Then, unfortunately, injuries derailed the once excellent season. On the year the winger has netted eight goals while dishing out 25 assists for 33 total points in 53 games played. That’s a point per game total of 0.62. Over his past 11 games, the young forward has netted one goal and dished out three assists for four points. With the playoffs around the hope is that Fitzgerald can find his scoring touch again and help lead the team to a championship.

Anton BlidhAnton Blidh has proven to be a streaky player since coming over from Sweden where he was playing for Frolunda HC of the Swedish Hockey League. On the year, the winger has found the back of the net eight times while dishing out 12 assists for 20 total points in 67 games played. This is a point per game total of 0.29. On top of that, the young forward has not scored a goal since February 15, 2019, and in the 17 games since then has dished out two assists for two total points. Despite being on a cold streak as cold as the ice he skates on, the baby B’s hope he can pick up some scoring in the last few weeks of the regular season. If Blidh can get on a hot streak going into the playoffs, it could go a long way for our boys in black and gold.

My players to watch this weekend for the Bruins

Up Front

Paul Carey: Paul Carey has been excellent since being traded to the Bruins from the Senators this year. In 24 games with Providence, the former Boston College Eagle has netted 16 goals while also dishing out seven assists for 23 total points. Playing at a point per game pace of 0.95 has really helped the Providence offense out a great deal. The two-time NCAA champion has also played well against Hershey this season. In two games against the Bears this season, he has netted three goals while also dishing out one assist for four total points. The veteran forward has been so good for the Baby B’s that he signed a contract extension for two-years. Look for him to have a big weekend.

On the Blue Line

Victor Berglund: Victor Berglund is a name you might not recognize. That’s because he has not played a game with Providence this season. The young defenseman has been playing in Sweden for MODO Hockey of the Allsvenskan league, which is Sweden’s second-tier league. While playing there this season, the 19-year old in 50 games netted four goals and dished out nine assists for 13 total points. Recently, he signed his professional contract to play for Providence. He has joined the team, and we may see him make his debut for the baby B’s this weekend. All indications are that he is someone to be excited about because of his skating and shooting ability. Keep an eye out for him.

In Net

Dan VladarDan Vladar has had an up and down season for the Providence Bruins. On the year, he is 11-12-4 with a goals against average of 2.70 and a save percentage of .901. The good news is that seven of the 11 wins the young netminder has on the season have come on the road. With both games over the weekend coming away from the Dunk, this may be a weekend that we see Vladar shine.

The Providence Bruins are currently sitting firmly in a playoff spot. With 8 games remaining the team’s magic number is 14. The magic number is the number of points needed to clinch the playoff spot. The magic number goes down when it earns points either with victory, or overtime/shootout losses. The magic number also goes down when the team with the highest possible point total that isn’t currently in playoff position, loses. This means the baby B’s are sitting in a good position right now and can hopefully make that magic number dwindle down this 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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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Weekend Recap

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Sam Fryman  |  Follow Me On Twitter @sfryman20

The Providence Bruins celebrated Star Wars weekend at home, and the Force of offense was certainly with them as they looked to pick up four points and further distance themselves from their playoff challengers.

Friday, March 22nd, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. The Belleville Senators (Home)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

First Period:

Throughout the first period, there wasn’t much scoring to be noted or even critical chances. With two minutes to go in the period, defenseman Jordan Murray got whistled for interference, and the Bruins pounced on the opportunity. Trent Frederic and JFK set up Peter Cehlarik in front of the net to give Providence the first goal of the game. With lineup changes affecting all three of those men in recent weeks, it was a wonderful surprise to see that they hadn’t lost any offensive touch.

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Score: 1-0 Bruins

Second Period:

The second period featured a collection of close calls for both teams, but physicality would come to be the story as the score remained the same. In the closing seconds of the period, Trent Frederic received a nasty hit from Darren Archibald, and the team didn’t take to it kindly. While Anton Blidh only received a roughing minor for sticking up for his teammate, Archibald was slapped with a five-minute cross-checking major as well as a game misconduct. Frederic was shaken but thankfully was able to return to the game.

Score: 1-0 Bruins

Third Period:

With the third period getting started, the Senators had racked up almost half an hour of combined penalty minutes. Goaltender Marcus Hogberg kept them in the game with Jedi like reflexes but the offense needed to get one more past the Providence netminder Zane McIntyre. Providence would hold Belleville to just one shot on goal in the final frame and the captain Jordan Szwarz finished off the game with the empty net tally. It was the fourth straight game in which the Bruins collected points. Next up to finish out the weekend was the Binghamton Devils, who simply hoped to stop the bleeding of a long drought.

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Final: 2-0 Bruins

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. The Binghampton Devils (Home)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

First Period:

The game began with an unusual amount of stoppages as there were four icing calls against both Binghamton and Providence within the first minute and a half. With the Devils holding on to the final playoff spot in the Atlantic, a road win was critical for improving their chances. Binghamton was also hoping to end a massive losing streak, which has left them struggling to find points down the stretch.

The visitors finally began the scoring with six minutes to go in the opening period. Tariq Hammond delivered a great pass to the far side circle, and Nick Lappin was able to pick up his 17th goal of the year. The goaltenders had put on a good show before then as “Darth Vladar,” and Evan Cormier were the men between the pipes on the backend of Star Wars weekend in the Dunk. The Bruins would also gain some late opportunities with the man advantage, carrying over just short of a full power play to the beginning of the second period.

Score: 1-0 Binghamton

Second Period:

The Bruins wouldn’t capitalize on those chances, but just like the Empire, the Bruins would strike back with just about six minutes gone in the second period. After a great block in the offensive zone by Kyle Cumiskey, a two on one went back the other way, and Jordan Szwarz buried the goal to tie the game.

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As the game went on to the late stages of the second Gemel Smith made a great pass off of another turnover as Paul Carey finished with the goal to give the Bruins the lead. It was yet another multi-point game for Carey in the month of March as he has been the shining star offensively for Providence. The Bruins also vastly improved the shot total in the second frame as they had been trailing Binghamton in that department after the first twenty minutes.

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Score: 2-1 Bruins

Third Period:

The third period started with a penalty that would work in Providence’s favor. A double minor was assessed to defenseman Eric Gryba, who almost couldn’t stay out of the sin bin the entire night. Early in the four-minute advantage, Paul Carey picked up his second goal of the night. Jordan Szwarz and Gemel Smith again picked up assists.

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The victory was clinched with Carey’s stellar performance, and the Bruins now stand seven points clear of fifth place Wilkes Barre/Scranton with nine games left to be played. Providence will hit the road against those Penguins on Thursday, their first of three consecutive road games to end the month of March.

Final: 3-1 Bruins

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 24 Preview

provvswbs

( Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 24 of the AHL season is upon us, and the Providence Bruins skate into it 32-22-8-3 (75 points) and 4-3-1-2 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, with a little help they could move up in the standings if they have a good weekend. With only 11 games left in the regular season, now is the time for our boys in black and gold to make their big push in the playoff standings. The weekend hopes to be fruitful as the Providence club comes home for two games before embarking on another three-game road trip.

The weekend kicks off on Friday, March 22, 2019, when the Belleville Senators invade the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The hockey action continues Saturday, March 23, 2019, when Binghamton Devils roll into town hoping to conjure up a W at the Dunk. After the weekend of home cooking, the Providence Bruins head out on the highway and take on the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins on Wednesday, March 27, 2019, at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. It should be an exciting weekend of hockey that you are not going to want to miss.

Friday, March 22, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Belleville Senators (HOME)

The Friday showdown will mark the second time the Bruins take on Belleville this season. The Senators are 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 Connor Clifton and Zach Senyshyn. Goalie Dan Vladar was adequate in net turning away 20 of the 23 shots that were fired his way. The Belleville Senators come into the match-up 33-25-3-5 (74 points) and 6-2-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the North Division and eighth 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 are 1-1-1 against the Ottawa affiliate in that time frame.

As with most games, situational scoring is going to be very important to whoever wins this game. When leading after two periods, the Belleville Senators are 23-0-0-1. Meanwhile, when losing after two periods, the Ottawa affiliate is 5-21-0-2. The Providence Bruins, on the other hand, are 25-3-2-2 when they have a lead after the second period, and a record of 4-18-3 when down after two. Speaking of situational scoring, special teams will also play a major role in the game. The Sens have a power play percentage of 19.2% this is good for sixth in the Eastern Conference. They’ve scored 53 power play goals and 211 goals overall on the season. This means 25.1% of their goals have come with the man advantage. On top of that, they’ve only given up three shorthanded goals on the year. Meanwhile, the Baby B’s have the third-best penalty kill in the Eastern Conference at 85.7% and have scored 10 shorthanded goals, which is fifth in the East.

The Boston affiliate, meanwhile, has a power play percentage of 17.2% which is good for 12th in the East. They’ve also given up the second most shorthanded goals in the East at 13. The Senators’ penalty kill is at 75.9% this is last in the Eastern Conference, and they’ve had eight shorthanded goals. If the Bruins can manipulate these scoring situations in their favor, they will have a fantastic chance of coming out of this game with a victory. With the Belleville hockey club sitting in eighth place in the conference, a win here would absolutely help pad the lead the baby B’s have over them.

Saturday, March 23, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Binghamton Devils (HOME)

The Saturday battle marks the second time the Bruins have played the Devils this season. The first match-up saw the Binghamton hockey club come out on top 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Connor Clifton, Gemel Smith, and Anton Blidh. Goalie Zane McIntyre had a game that he would probably like to forget stopping 17 of the 22 shots that were fired his way. Despite the bad game earlier this year, the baby B’s have had great success against the New Jersey affiliate over the past five years going 13-6-1-1 during that time span including 9-2 at the Dunk.

The Binghamton hockey club has had a rough go of it this year. They skate into the contest 24-35-6 (54 points) and 1-8-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for eighth in the North Division and 16th in the Eastern Conference. Team defense will be a major key in this game. The Binghamton Devils have given up 233 goals on the year. This is not only the worst in the Eastern Conference, but it is the worst in the entire AHL. This is 3.58 goals a game that they are giving up. Our boys in black and gold, on the other hand, have given up 181 goals on the season which is 2.76 goals a game. Only three other teams in the East have given up fewer goals on the year.

On the other side of the puck, the New Jersey affiliate has one of the worst offenses in the East scoring 170 goals on the year which is 2.61 goals a game. Meanwhile, the spoked P has scored 196 goals on the year which is 3.01 goals a game. These stats bode well for the Providence hockey club in this game. Despite the tough year, the Devils are 15-1-1 when they are leading after the second period. If the Bruins stingy defense can keep Binghamton from scoring, they have a fantastic chance of coming out on top.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins (AWAY)

The Wednesday match-up will mark the sixth 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 now 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 fourth 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 most recent battle saw the Bruins fall 2-1 in overtime getting their lone goal from Ryan Fitzgerald. Goalie Zane McIntyre was great in net stoning 26 of the 28 shots that were fired his way.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins come into the game 30-23-7-3 (70 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 3-0-1-1, but over the past five seasons, the Baby B’s are 13-6-3-3. A major key for the boys in black and gold will be how their offense plays. The Penguins have given up a total of 185 goals on the year. Only four other teams in the Eastern Conference have given up less. Meanwhile, the Bruins have scored 196 goals this year which is the 11th 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 181, but they are also third in penalty kill at 85.7%. That coupled with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton having the 13th ranked power play in the Eastern Conference at 17.0% 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 18-14-2-2 but are 7-8-4-1 when being outshot. On the other side, the Baby B’s are 9-6-3-2 when being outshot and 21-14-5-1 when outshooting their foe.

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

Hot

Jordan SzwarzThe Providence Bruins Captain has been very good all season. On the year, the veteran forward has found the back of the net 19 times while dishing out 16 assists for 35 total points and a point per game total of 0.60. This includes netting one goal and dishing out five assists for six points in his last seven games. The next goal that the OHL product scores will be his 20th on the year and it’ll be his third season in a row with Providence with 20+ goals on the year. Szwarz would be the fifth player in Providence Bruins history to do that. It’s something to look out for coming up.

Ryan Fitzgerald: Ryan Fitzgerald had found himself in the not category last week, but he’s slowly starting to find the rhythm he had at the beginning of the year. At the beginning of the year, the former Boston College Eagle was arguably the best forward for Providence. An injury partway through the season derailed his momentum, but he’s slowly starting to find his stride again. In 51 games he has found the back of the net eight times while dishing out 25 assists for 33 total points and a point per game total of 0.64. This includes netting one goal and dishing out three assists for four points in his last six games played. It’s nice to see the young forward find his scoring touch for the playoff push.

Not

Gemel Smith: Gemel Smith has been excellent since coming over to Boston in a trade with Dallas back in December. For a little while, it seemed like the OHL product found himself in the “hot” category every single week. Recently, it seems like the gritty forward has found his first real cold streak of the season. Over Smith’s last nine games he has found the back of the net once and dished out three assists for four total points. Despite the cold streak, in 37 games since joining the baby B’s he has netted 13 goals and dished out 18 assists for 31 total points and a point per game total of 0.83. Hopefully, as Providence gets closer to the playoffs, the young forward will find his scoring touch again.

Mark McNeill: Mark McNeill has proven to be streaky for Providence this season. Over his past 18 games, he’s registered three points dishing out three assists and has not scored a goal since January 26, 2019. This means the WHL product netted seven goals while dishing out 14 assists for 21 total points and a point per game total of 0.65. Since then his point per game total has plummeted to 0.48 (7-17-24 in 50 games played). Hopefully the gritty forward can find his scoring touch as the baby B’s push towards the playoffs.

My players to watch this weekend

Up Front

Zach SenyshynZach Senyshyn has proven to be very streaky for Providence this season. In 57 games this season he has netted 14 goals and dished out 10 assists for 24 total points and a point per game total of 0.42. Despite this, last weekend he scored his first goal since January 26, 2019. Sometimes, all you need is one to break the floodgates open and go on a scoring streak. I am hopeful that the young speedster is going to do just that and get back on a role. Though, many are disappointed that the young forward hasn’t gotten the opportunity to showcase his skills in Boston, if he sticks with it and continues to work hard it’ll be only a matter of time before that happens.

On the Blue Line

Cooper ZechCooper Zech recently signed a deal with Providence and played in his first professional games. In his first two games, he played around 20 minutes each game and looked very good. The 20-year-old defenseman comes to Providence from Ferris State as an undrafted college free agent. In his freshman season with Ferris State, he was the WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) top-scoring freshman, the top scoring freshman defenseman, WCHA Rookie of the Year, and the first freshman to lead Ferris State in scoring since 1987-88 netting 8 goals and dishing out 20 assists in 36 games played for the Bulldogs.  The former Bulldog also recorded his first point on Wednesday against Laval getting the primary assist on a goal. After the season he’s had, there certainly are some lofty expectations moving forward. Hopefully, he has a big weekend for Providence.

In Net

Zane McIntyre: Zane McIntyre has had an up and down season this year. On the year the veteran netminder has a record of 22-10-7 with a 2.51 goals against average and a save percentage of .901. The University of North Dakota alum has been a lot better at home than on the road this season, and when the Bruins went on their crazy point streak, he was a large reason for that. With two games at the Dunk, look for Zane to have a big weekend.

The Providence Bruins are currently sitting in playoff position by four points. A good weekend and they could pad that standing and possibly move up a spot in those standings. With 11 games remaining the team’s magic number is 20. The magic number is the number of points needed to clinch the playoff spot. The magic number goes down when it earns points either with victory, or overtime/shootout losses. The magic number also goes down when the team with the highest possible point total that isn’t currently in playoff position, loses. This means the baby B’s are sitting in a good position right now and can hopefully make that magic number dwindle down this 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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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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