(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)
By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
We are into the 12th week of the AHL season. The Providence Bruins skate into it 19-9-1-2 (41 points) and 8-2 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 week that saw them beat the Springfield Thunderbirds 5-4 in overtime. They would then go on to shutout the same Thunderbirds 5-0 before beating the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 6-0. The Bruins have a short a weekend with games against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Hartford Wolf Pack.
The hockey action starts on Friday, December 20, 2019, when the Providence Bruins travel to Wilkes-Barre Township, Pennsylvania, to take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. The weekend wraps up on Saturday, December 21, 2019, when the Providence Bruins invade Hartford, Connecticut, to take on the Hartford Wolf Pack at the XL Center.
Friday, December 20, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AWAY)
The Friday matchup marks the second of six 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 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins skate into the contest 14-11-3-1 (32 points) and 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. The Providence Bruins have had some success against the Pittsburgh affiliate over the past five years, going 13-6-3-3. However, they are only 6-5-2 in Wilkes-Barre Scranton during that time.
This could be an opportunity for the Providence Bruins power-play to gain some momentum. The Penguins have taken 123 penalties in 29 games. That means they are giving up 4.32 penalties a game. They’ve also given up 25 goals out of those 123 penalty kill opportunities. That’s 79.7%, which is good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 13th 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 7-1-1 when leading after the first period and 8-0-1 when they are leading after the second period. It should be a close game between these two division foes. I expect the Providence club to come out on top in this one. It’s one of those games they need to win to assert themselves atop the Eastern Conference.
Saturday, December 21, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (AWAY)
The Saturday matchup will mark the fifth 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 most recent 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 battle with the Hartford club is going to be challenging. The Rangers’ affiliate comes into the game 16-7-2-5 (39 points), including 5-3-2 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 22-14-4-2, including 8-8-3-1 at the XL Center. The Wolf Pack has seen success this season thanks to a stifling defense. They’ve given up only 81 goals in 30 games. That means they are only giving up 2.7 goals a game. Providence, on the other hand, has scored 109 goals in 31 games. That’s 3.51 goals a game. It’ll be a great battle between the two teams.
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not
Robert Lantosi: Robert Lantosi came to the Providence Bruins after spending the beginning of his career in his home country of Slovakia. The young forward spent last season with HK Nitra of the Slovak Tipsport Liga, which is Slovakia’s top hockey league. In 27 games with the Providence club this year, he’s netted eight goals while dishing out 13 assists for 21 total points. This includes netting two goals and dishing out seven assists for nine total points in his last seven games. Let’s hope he keeps it up.
Trent Frederic: Trent Frederic has had an up and down season this year, but recently is playing very well. In 28 games this season, he’s netted four goals and dished out 13 assists for 17 total points. The former University of Wisconsin Badger also finds himself in the middle of a four-game point streak. During the streak, he’s netted two goals and dished out five assists for seven total points.
Brendan Woods: Brendan Woods has had an average season for the Providence Bruins. The veteran forward came to Providence after spending the last two seasons with the Utica Comets. In 19 games, the former University of Wisconsin Badger has netted five goals and dished out four assists for nine total points. Despite this, he only has one point, an assist in his last seven games. Let’s hope he breaks the slump soon.
Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce has had a good season for the Providence Bruins. The former first-round pick came to the Providence club after spending his entire career in the Vancouver system. In 20 games this year, the veteran forward has netted seven goals while dishing out seven assists for 14 total points. Despite this, he only has registered one point, an assist over his past five games.
My Players To Watch This Weekend
Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka has had an excellent first season with the Providence Bruins. In 29 games, the young forward has netted 13 goals while dishing out 12 assists for 25 total points. His development has been stellar. Studnicka is an absolute joy to watch play. His game is not only developing offensively but defensively as well. Look for him to have a big weekend.
On The Blue Line
Steven Kampfer: Steven Kampfer has spent the majority of the season as the defensive substitute in Boston. With Boston getting healthier, the veteran defenseman was sent down to Providence to get more work in. The former University of Michigan Wolverine has registered three points, all assists in the four games since arriving in Providence. Look for the veteran defenseman to provide leadership on the blue line.
Dan Vladar: Dan Vladar has been excellent in the four games he’s played since coming back from injury. The young netminder looks more confident between the pipes. In those four games, he’s 3-1 stopping 119 of the 123 shots fired his way. That means he has a .967 save percentage with a 0.99 GAA. He’s also recorded two shutouts in those four games. Look for him to try and keep up his stellar play.
The Providence Bruins look poised to make a big run towards the playoffs this year. It’s feasible that the Providence club ends up getting home ice for a round or two in the playoffs. That would be huge. This team has the chance to do something we haven’t seen them do in a very long time, and I say enjoy the ride. I hope everyone has an absolutely marvelous Holiday. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!
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