Providence Bruins Get A Gem In Asselin

( Photo Credit: Vincent Ethier/LHJMQ )

By: Michael Robert |  Follow me on Twitter: @b_blackandgold

The Bruins have remained fairly steady the last couple years when it comes to making any big changes, whether that be adding through free agency or looking to bring a change through any trades that would make an immediate impact. They have stuck to their guns and have been trusting the process of building from within, by drafting and developing players that slot into the roles they want to inject into the lineup.

Look no further than the way off-board pick of Trent Frederic at 29th overall in the 2016 entry draft as a prime example. They were so brazen as to even publicly state that they picked him there with the intention and of his projection to be a bottom-six player in their lineup. Why you would take someone you think is a bottom-six that high is beyond me, but I digress. And it turns out the young man continues to get better, faster, and stronger, almost like he has something to prove. Maybe this was their divine plan all along? We could go back to the hotly debated 2015 draft as well, where they took players that were projected far lower than where the Bruins snagged them. Regardless, they have shown time and time again to build the big league team through their system ranks instead of making any big splashes.

The odd time, they, as well as other clubs, take a chance on some players that linger on the outskirts, because why not? Worst case scenario they don’t progress into anything, and best-case scenario, they grow as a player under the tutelage of good coaching and trainers, and as they become men, they turn into an impact player. This is not a common happening. But, if there is a player I would put my money on to be one of the players in a small sample size to break the mold, it is Samuel Asselin.

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Asselin was picked up this year by the Bruins as an undrafted overage player coming out of the QMJHL, playing his final season with the Halifax Mooseheads where he was also tagged with an “A” on his jersey for awesome. Well, an assistant captain, but this kid has skills as you saw in the video above. He is a smaller player coming in at 5’9 and 180 pounds, but in today’s game, this doesn’t tell the full story. This kid is quick, gritty, has great hands, attacks the net, is relentless on the puck, can make the plays, and has a great shot. Yes, he is a bit of all things good.

This description got me thinking of another player with the Bruins actually…..#63. I hate making comparisons because it isn’t fair to drop that on him thinking he will produce in the same way, but I believe the sky is the limit here with him, and he certainly can do great things. What remains to be seen is if he can translate it to the NHL level. He is currently on a contract that has him sticking in the AHL only, but what an opportunity to show what he can do and earn himself something better when this runs out.

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Asselin has some impressive accomplishments coming with him to the Bruins. He was the leading goal scorer in the ‘Q’ in his final year, was a Memorial Cup Champion in 2018, and made it back to the Mem Cup finals again in his last season coming up just short while being the most dominant player in the tournament by far. He was also a member of the Titan when they were the QMJHL Champions and served as captain of the Cataractes in his third season in the league. Some other accolades he holds with him are being named to the CHL All-Star Team in 2017-18 and in 2018-19 was named to the QMJHL Second All-Star Team. He has also been leaving his mark on the recent Prospects Challenge in Buffalo. I can’t help but see some Marchand-Esque zip to his game.

Asselin is very self-aware and knows what he brings to the table:

“I can score, I can pass the puck, I think I’ve got pretty good vision but I can always play both sides [of the puck], I can play in my zone. I’m a good two-way forward. I think that’s my biggest asset,” Asselin described himself 10 months back.

In his first three seasons with Shawinigan, he put up 30 – 73 – 103 numbers in 167 games played. In that third season, he was moved to the Titan and played 10 games with them there posting 4 – 7 – 11 totals. The following season he was moved quickly to Halifax, where one could say he had a coming-out party of sorts, putting up an impressive 48 – 38 – 86 in 68 games. He had some solid players surrounding him there as well, like LaVoie, who went in the second round of this year’s draft to the Oilers.

This is very promising. While not having the prestige that some of these top prospects have, he most certainly is a gamer. I will go down as saying he is one of the best players in years to go undrafted and also has huge potential to make it to the NHL. Again, can he translate it to the NHL? If he can make this leap in the next couple years, with Marchand and some of the current core getting older, it would be perfect timing.

To wrap this up, and something all of us Bruins fans can love, Montreal was interested in signing him as well. Being the good and smart francophone that he is, he made the smart decision and chose the Bruins. A couple more things to leave you with just to make you smile.

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Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Allred: Top-10 Bruins Prospects

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As a diehard Boston Bruins fan, I also pay close attention to the organization’s prospects in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins and lower levels of developmental hockey around the world. I believe it’s important for B’s fans to not only be up to date with what’s going on with the National Hockey League team in Boston but also who’s standing out in the prospect pool and about to cross the threshold of future NHL professional careers.

These top-ten ranking below are my thoughts on where I see these prospects in the B’s developing depth with minimal if no games in the NHL. This was a great idea from our Senior writer Mike Cratty who came to our writing team of 17 members for that offseason content and to keep the B’s conversation going. Check out the two previous prospect ranking articles from Mike Cratty HERE, and writer Lucas Pearson’s rankings Here to see the difference in opinions when it comes to this offseason topic. Without further ado, here are my Top-10 Boston Bruins Prospect Rankings.

10) Jakub Zboril

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Sometimes first-round NHL drafted players don’t get to the highest level in the world after leaving the draft podium, but with NHL contracted players ahead of Zboril it gives time to properly develop. The now 22-year-old two-way defenseman has one-year remaining on his current entry-level contract before becoming a restricted free agent. Jakub will most likely spend another season with the Providence Bruins where he’s played in 124 career games posting 8-30-38 numbers. In two career NHL games during his callups from the AHL, Zboril went pointless but did get a taste of the NHL which could drive him to seriously compete for a spot at training camp in September.

9) Zach Senyshyn

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Another young player with tremendous upside when he was selected in the first round in 2015 along with the aforementioned Zboril. In my opinion, Senyshyn has the attributes to be an NHL’er, but the pipeline ahead of him hasn’t been easy to crack the code to be a regular. With one-year remaining on his entry-level deal Zach is going to have to work harder than ever to get the attention of the Bruins brass high above to address a serious need on the right side of the B’s forward core.

In 132 career AHL games with Providence, the 22-year-old has 26-24-50 numbers and in two games during the 2018-19 campaign got his first career NHL goal when he was called up and played in a 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild. I can see Senyshyn playing a majority of next year in Providence, but he could also get more looks during this upcoming 2019-20 NHL season.

8) Jeremy Lauzon

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Jeremy is another prospect that is being hindered by the bottlenecking factor of this Bruins organization, especially for a depth defenseman. Lauzon is on the last year of his entry-level deal and overly not sure of his NHL timeline with the core ahead of him. I’d expect he’s going to have a solid camp and will impress those who are constructing a winner in the next regular season campaign but another season in Providence developing is what I see in my crystal ball. Lauzon did play in 16 games at the NHL level during the 2018-19 season and thought he played well earning his first and only NHL goal in that timeframe. With Providence appearing in 81 games the former 2015 second-round selection posted 2-12-14 numbers in his career thus far in the AHL.

7) Trent Frederic

( Photo Credit: Team Shred Photography )

By far, one of my favorite prospects in the Bruins system. Frederic has speed and creativity, but above all, he plays with that edge that can get him into the NHL Bruins lineup no matter what forward line. He has good speed with or without the puck, and his strength in the faceoff circle is another tremendous attribute when winning draws in critical situations.

The 2018-19 season was Frederics first full season of AHL hockey and as a rookie in the league contributed offensively with 14-11-25 numbers. I still believe that Trent’s game can only get better with his time developing in Providence but did have a few good looks in his first career NHL games in the 2018-19 season where he spent 15 games with the Boston club failing to register a point.  Frederic is another big kid with serious upside as a 21-year-old and can definitely see his offensive numbers getting better with the upcoming season with two more full seasons under his current entry-level contract.

6) Kyle Keyser

( Photo Credit: TheAHL.com / NBCSports.com )

Signed to an entry-level contract as an undrafted free agent back in October of 2017 after losing former Bruins prospect netminder Malcolm Subban via the waiver process to the Vegas Golden Knights. Since Keyser’s addition to the future plans of the Bruins crease, the Coral Springs, Florida native has really impressed me and continues to pass other goaltending prospects that were drafted in previous years.

Keyser is a 20-year-old netminder who’s eligible for the AHL action in the upcoming season. With Zane McIntyre out of the picture and the Bruins signing Maxime Legace to a one-year deal to add to the netminding depth there are rumors he could start his minor-pro career in the ECHL. The AHL full time is not out of the realm depending on what the B’s want to do with goaltender Dan Vladar. Kyle had a career year last season playing for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals where he tied his career-high in games played with 47 and a record of 32-8-0 with a 2.45 goals-against-average and .915 save percentage.

5) Axel Andersson

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

One of the more intriguing defensive prospects, in my opinion.  Drafted in the second round in 2018, Andersson was quickly signed to an entry-level contract after the close of the teams annual Development Camp. The 6′-0″ 180-pound defenseman has impeccable skating abilities along with impressive edge work. He has a high hockey IQ and the ability to snap tape to tape stretch passes for quick transition offensively.

Andersson is not a point-producing blueliner, but that part of his game could be incorporated with his time in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Moncton Wildcats a team who selected him in the 2019 CHL Import Draft where he went 30th overall in the first round. From the folks I talk to in the Moncton, New Brunswick Canada area is that he’s going to be heavily relied on the backend and could see top-line minutes in all situations.

4) Jakub Lauko

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Probably one of the most exciting prospects when it comes to raw talent. Lauko’s speed and puck control in full speed has been a pleasure to watch in his first development camp and his games in the “Q” with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. After he was selected in the third round of the 2018 NHL draft, he joined the Huskies club a year later as the Rouyn-Noranda club had his rights from drafting him in the CHL import draft. Lauko and the Huskies would go onto have one of the best seasons known to be with the team being the best in the QMJHL during the regular season, capturing the Presidents Trophy in the playoffs, and marching into Halifax, Nova Scotia to take home the Memorial Cup,

In 44 games for the Huskies, Lauko contributed with 21-20-41 numbers and 6-7-13 totals in the postseason. He’s definitely a work in progress and will be in the pro ranks soon enough, but I’m a firm believer in properly developing players and could see him back with the Huskies for the upcoming 2019-20 season. The AHL is another possibility but like I said another solid year in the QMJHL defending the outstanding President Trophy and Memorial Cup-winning year wouldn’t be a bad idea.

3) John Beecher

( Photo Credit: by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images )

Beecher is a 2019 first-round draft pick that has intimidating size and speed for an 18-year-old that’s about to start his NCAA hockey career at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2019. With players like Studnicka, Lauko, and Keyser excused from the 2019 Bruins Development Camp festivities, Beecher had the spotlight on him as the new kind in the system. His power forward mentality and creativity for a bigger player has been something to watch that’s for sure. His tremendous upside was on full display in the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase held in Plymouth, Michigan where he was in the top-six of the tournament scoring for earning 4-1-5 numbers in five games played.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what this type of player he becomes at Michigan in his first year of collegiate hockey. If he can earn five points in five games on a team highlighted with names like Cole Caufield, Arthur Kaliyev, and Joel Farabee, the young Beecher could see an increased role with the NCAA Wolverines in a top-six powerhouse role under the tutelage of Head Coach Melvin Pearson and play with fellow B’s prospect Jack Becker.

2) Urho Vaakanainen

( Photo Credit: NBC Sports )

If any prospect defenseman is ready to cross the threshold of a long NHL Bruins career, it’s former first-rounder Vaakanainen. Due to an unfortunate head injury to start the 2018-19 NHL regular season, Urho would come back to the game later after recovering from a concussion to play the remaining games of the year with the Providence Bruins. The 20-year-old Vaakanainen started his pro career with Providence and was called up in October of 2018 due to injuries at the NHL level.

After only two NHL games and zero points, Urho suffered a concussion and didn’t return to the game for two months. When he did return to the game, he was placed in Providence where he played the remainder of the 2018-19 AHL season. Vaakanainen’s return would be in mid-January of 2019 and in 30 games to close the regular season Urho posted 4-10-14 numbers. As mentioned above a few times, current NHL contracts in Boston could hinder Vaakanainen from an NHL return for the upcoming season but the rumors of B’s defenseman going on the LTIR to start the year, Urho could easily make a return to the NHL lineup without a doubt.

Jack Studnicka

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Drafted in the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft, Studnicka has worked extremely hard the last couple of seasons trying to make the NHL out of training camp. This year he could very well be in the mix for a forward position, but with the current depth up the middle, jack very well could see time on the wing if needed. The 6′-1″ 172-pound natural center has spent the last four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League and last season posting 12-22-34 numbers in 30 games for the Oshawa Generals before being shipped to the Niagara Icedogs via trade where he posted 24-25-49 numbers in 30 games played.

Between Oshawa where Captain Jack played three seasons prior and Niagara for a 30 game stint, Studnicka had his best offensive numbers posting 36-47-83 totals for his best OHL career season surpassing his previous career-high of 72 points in the 2017-18 campaign. As a person that like to see Bruins prospects properly develop, I’d like to see Studnicka play at least a full season in the AHL because if the B’s organization is seriously considering moving him to a wing position, he should learn that transition in Providence with what’s looking like a very impressive lineup for the upcoming season.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 139 that we recorded on 8-2-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Sticher.

Report: Bruins Prospect Looking To Terminate KHL Contract

( Photo Credit: KHL )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Rumor out of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League is Boston Bruins prospect Pavel Shen is eager to terminate his current contract with his Salavat Yulaev Ufa club. The 6′-1″ 183-pound Russian native played 20 games in the highest hockey league in Russia notching one assist. He also spent time in the lower levels of professional developmental hockey during the 2018-19 campaign with the VHL’s Toros Neftekamsk where he recorded two assists in 13 games and in the MHL with the Tolpar Ufa club posting one assist in five games played.

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Shen was selected in the seventh round ( 212th overall) of the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. This was the first Russian prospect selected by the Bruins club since the days of Alexander Khokhlachev when the forward was selected in the second round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The 2019 NHL Draft also was the second year in a row that the B’s selected a Russian player when they took defenseman Roman Bychkov in the fifth round.

The now 19-year-old Shen was the 32nd-ranked European Skater per the NHL’s Central Scouting final ranking in the spring of 2018. Pavel is a highly-skilled forward that has a strong competitive edge and doesn’t back down when it comes to puck battles or standing up for himself. His speed and scoring ability have been great to watch during film sessions or the last two years he’s been at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts for the annual Bruins Development Camps. His speed is one of his best attributes and in my opinion, right he possesses a nasty NHL type release.

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Although Shen was a later round pick, his ability to make and read a play in tight coverage is another attribute I enjoyed watching as he has a knack of getting to the net and frustrate defenders with his stop on a dime and acceleration with a powerful stride after that. Just the way he skates from east to west is impressive, and his head and shoulder movements tend to have those attacking him either with a body check or getting the puck away from him have them fooled or heading in the opposite direction.

It sounds like the NHL Bruins are interested in signing the crafty forward to a three-year, entry-level contract to get him over to the bigger ice sheets in North America to learn the tighter defensive game as he continues to develop. I would expect this signing could land him in the American Hockey League with the NHL Bruins top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins at least for the duration of his potential ELC deal. If he is in fact placed in the AHL with Providence, he’ll be joining a potentially lethal prospect list regardless of NHL prospect Rankings lately, or Bruins fans displeasure of how this NHL franchise has been drafting lately.

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If he goes to the AHL club in the state of Rhode Island, his addition will complement nicely alongside fellow Bruins prospects Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Oskar Steen, and Anders Bjork. Now, it remains to be seen if any of these players mentioned besides Shen make the NHL roster but in my opinion, a full season of development is never a bad idea.

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A Look Back: Bruins Prospect Frederic Notches 1st Pro Hatty

( Photo Credit: Circling The Wagon / Team Shred Photography )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twiter @BlackAndGold277

As a huge Boston Bruins prospect guy, I was looking at some of the B’s talent at the developmental levels particularly at the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins during the 2018-19 regular season campaign. Looking at first-year American Hockey League pro and B’s 2016 first-round selection Trent Frederic and his best game offensively in April of 2019 when he notched three in a 5-3 road victory against boarding state rival Springfield Thunderbirds.

Frederic’s three goals all came in the second period from the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts and was a courageous effort to really put the team on his shoulders to get a victory over a birds team they see 12 times a year.  Frederic had a solid year learning the pro level rigors from Providence Head Coach Jay Leach and Assistant Trent Whitfield, and although didn’t have explosive numbers offensively with 14-11-25 numbers in 55 career games, his impact on the ice certainly overshadows his lack of finishing with point production, but that’s a work in progress nonetheless.

Below Is Frederic’s first career Pro Hat Trick and please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey Youtube channel!  We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our Youtube Channel

Also, give a listen to the latest Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast that was recorded on June 26th with longtime friend and Bruins diehard Heather Ingerson! We have episode 135 planned for the weekend after the American 4th of July so stay tuned for that as we update you on the recent NHL Bruins free agent signings.

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins 2018-19 Season Review

providence

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

The Providence Bruins 2018-19 AHL season came to an end on Friday, April 26, 2019, when they lost 4-1 to the Charlotte Checkers which gave the Hurricanes’ affiliate the 3-1 series win in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. It was an exciting season of highs and lows for the baby Bs, and the team gave us as fans a lot to look forward to in the coming years. There are many players that we can look forward to seeing not only in Providence next season but Boston for years to come. Later in the article, I will go a little more in-depth about a player at each position that I am especially excited about, but guys like Urho Vaakanainen, Jack Studnicka, Jeremy Lauzon, Trent Frederic, and Kyle Keyser are players you should be extremely excited about.

Team Breakdown 

The season started off rough for the Providence hockey club. They went 3-5-1 in October which frustrated not only the players but the fans as well. The month of November was much better for our boys in black and gold going 6-3-2 bring their record to 9-8-3. As we got deep into the holiday season, the Providence Bruins continued to struggle a bit. The month of December the Bruins went 5-7-2 bringing their overall record to 14-15-5. This was especially frustrating because despite the player call-ups and injuries this team was extremely talented and seemed to not be playing to their ability.

The new year hit, and the team was 15-16-5 after the first two games, and then something amazing happened. The team went on a 12-game point streak that went from January 6, 2019, to February 8, 2019. During the point streak, they went 10-0-1-1, and it was largely in part thanks to the defense and Zane McIntyre.  The point streak catapulted the team to a 25-16-6-1 record, and they jumped into playoff position during that 12-game period.

The rest of February wasn’t as kind to the Providence hockey club, they ended the month 3-4-1 pushing their record to 28-20-7-1 by the end of February. The month of March was very good to the baby B’s they went 7-4-1-2 pushing their record to 35-24-8-3 going into the final month of the season. The team would go 3-3 their final six games of the year pushing their final overall record to 38-27-8-3 (87 points) which was good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference.

The Providence Bruins ended up having a goal differential of +16 with 228 goals scored and 212 goals against. This was very good. The team defense was one of the best in the Eastern Conference.  The baby B’s would go on to have the seventh-ranked power play in the Atlantic Division and 12th-ranked in the Eastern Conference at 17.7%. The penalty kill, on the other hand, would end up being one of the best in the league being ranked third in the Eastern Conference as well as the Atlantic Division at 85%.

Forwards

The forward group had lofty expectations right from the get-go. They had a few big name prospects that were expected to make that jump from prospect to legitimate NHL player. The two main prospects that were supposed to take huge steps forward were Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Trent Frederic. Both young forwards were competing for the third-line center position in Boston during training camp. Ultimately, neither player would win the position out of camp and both would spend time in Boston never fully grasping the position.

Trent Frederic, a former University of Wisconsin Badger, did well in his first full professional year of hockey. Despite a slow start, it seemed like getting called up to Boston gave the young center confidence which translated into better play and more scoring later on in the season for Providence. Overall in 55 for the baby Bs, Frederic netted 14 goals while dishing out 11 assists for 25 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.45. Something else that was promising for the young center was 18 of his 25 points were scored after the new year. As the year went on, he got stronger. He did play in 15 games with Boston and didn’t register a point. However, he still looked solid when he played. Overall, I think this was a season that Frederic can build upon and I think he will end up being a good third or fourth line center for Boston in the future.

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, on the other hand, might be a piece used in a bigger trade to strengthen the NHL roster. The former Boston University Terrier took a step back in a lot of people’s opinion. The young center did spend time in Boston and Providence and did deal with some injuries. It’s possible that the uncertainty about where he was playing, and getting hurt played into a less than stellar season. Ultimately, in 28 games with Providence, he netted seven goals and dished out nine assists for 16 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.57. With Boston, he netted three goals and dished out six assists for nine points in 28 games. That’s a point per game total of 0.32.

Another forward that was expected to take a big leap forward, and failed to do so was Zach Senyshyn. The young speedster excelled in the OHL scoring at a point per game clip of 0.91 (114-63-177 in 195 games). This has yet to translate fully to the AHL game, though he does show flashes of brilliance. In 66 games with Providence, the young winger netted 14 goals while dishing out 10 assists for 24 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.36. While he did score two more goals than last season he did also have two fewer points overall in the same amount of games. Despite this, Senyshyn did earn a call-up to Boston and in two games netted a goal. I am hoping that the confidence he showed there translates next season.

Two forwards who were both in their first professional season who surprised and had great years were the former University of Minnesota-Duluth Captain and NCAA champion Karson Kuhlman and the former University of Wisconsin Captain Cameron Hughes. Hughes had a strong start to the season, and then injury hurt his productivity, but he still ended up netting 13 goals and dishing 15 assists for 28 total points in 53 games. That’s a point per game total of 0.53. The former University of Wisconsin forward looks like he could be a strong player on one of the bottom two lines at the NHL level. He will be someone to look at next season.

Kuhlman, on the other hand, had a marvelous season. The former NCAA champion netted 12 goals while also dishing out 18 assists for 30 total points in 58 games for Providence. That’s a point per game total of 0.51. The young forward played so well that he earned a call-up to Boston and in 11 regular season games netted three goals while dishing out two assists for five total points. The former University of Minnesota-Duluth Captain also has played in six playoff games for Boston this season and in those games has dished out two assists for two total points. He is someone who could potentially be a middle six forward in the NHL. He is someone to be excited about not only the rest of this season but next season too.

This brings me to the three guys who were probably the most consistent forwards throughout the year for Providence. First, is Jordan Szwarz who would serve as the Captain for Providence this season. The gritty forward was an excellent veteran presence in the locker room for the baby Bs. He is someone who served as a Captain or Associate Captain at every AHL team he’s played for. In 68 games with the Providence hockey club, he netted 23 goals and dished out 23 assists for 46 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.67. It was his third year in a row with the spoked P where he netted at least 20 goals. He became the fifth person in team history to do so. Szwarz is an unrestricted free agent after this season so the likelihood of him in the organization next season isn’t great.

Next, we have Gemel Smith. The OHL product was acquired from Dallas in December and was excellent for Providence. In 47 games he netted 16 goals while dishing out 24 assists for 40 total points. That is a point per game total of 0.85. Smith is an RFA after this season so, he is someone that we may not see next season in the organization, but regardless was excellent this season. That brings us to the third guy on my list of “most consistent forwards on the year for Providence” Paul Carey. The veteran forward was acquired in January from Ottawa and was nothing short of brilliant in his time with the baby Bs. In 30 games with the club, the former Boston College Eagle netted 22 goals while dishing out 11 assists for 33 total points. That’s a point per game total of 1.10.

Finally, the forward I am most excited about next year and beyond is someone who didn’t play a regular season game for Providence but joined the team in the playoffs. That person is Jack Studnicka. To me, he is the best offensive prospect in the system. The young center spent the entire regular season in the OHL splitting time between the Oshawa Generals and the Niagra IceDogs. In 30 games with Oshawa, he netted 12 goals and dished out 22 assists for 34 total points. Then, in 30 games with Niagra, Studnicka netted 24 goals and dished out 25 assists for 49 total points. That means, in 60 total OHL games he netted 36 goals and dished out 47 assists for 83 total points. That’s a point per game total of 1.38. He also played in 11 playoff games with the IceDogs netting six goals and dishing out five assists for 11 total points. In four playoff games with Providence, he netted one goal and dished out one assist for two total points. The young forward is someone to look for next season and be extremely excited about.

Defense

The defense is another group that had many high profiles prospects that are well known throughout the system. Thanks to many injuries early on for the parent club in Boston, a lot of these prospects saw time in the NHL. One of those players is Jeremy Lauzon. The former QMJHL champion had a good season with Providence despite injury and being called up. In 29 games with the baby Bs, he found the back of the net once and dished six assists for seven total points. This is a point per game total of 0.24. The good news is he had the same exact stats last season in 55 games. So, his scoring rate increased despite getting hurt. In 16 games with Boston, he netted one goal for one total point. He also flashed some really good defensive ability. I could definitely see Lauzon being part of the Boston defense for years to come.

Another guy that spent a couple games up in Boston was Jakub Zboril. In two games with the parent club, he didn’t register a point but he played good defense. The major thing was he looked like he belonged. In 56 games with the Providence Bruins, the former QMJHL Champion netted four goals and dished out 15 assists for 19 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.33. Again, the good news here is that the young defenseman had the same exact stat line in 68 games with the baby Bs last season. This means his scoring rate increased which is positive because he is billed as a two-way defenseman. Zboril is an interesting case because with the depth the team has he could be dealt for a bigger piece or he could remain with the organization and be part of the team’s defensive plan moving forward.

Connor Clifton probably made the biggest jump from year one with Providence to year two, and it was a surprising jump at that. With all of the other defensive prospects the team had, the former Quinnipiac University Captain was overlooked. That turned out to be a mistake. In 53 games he netted six goals while dishing out 21 assists for 27 total points. That is a point per game total of 0.51. The young defenseman’s scoring rate almost doubled from last season. To top it off he was playing really good defense, and when Boston needed someone called up because of injury, they called on Clifton. In 19 games with the parent club, he dished out one assist for one point, while also playing a key role on the third defensive pairing. He has also played a pivotal role in the playoffs anchoring the third pair. Overall, I think Clifton can be a better version of Kevan Miller for the Boston Bruins moving forward.

There are two defensemen that I am extremely excited for next season for two totally different reasons. The first one is Cooper Zech. The young defenseman came to Providence as an undrafted free agent in March after his freshman season at Ferris State University. While there, he led the Bulldogs 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 0.78. In 12 games with the Providence hockey club, he didn’t find the back of the net but did dish out four assists for four total points, and in the team’s four playoff games, he netted two goals for two total points. The main reason I am excited about Zech is I want to see how his offensive game translates to the AHL. If he can keep up a point per game total of 0.78 for a full AHL season he would have a 59 point season over 76 games.

The other defenseman I am extremely excited about is Urho Vaakanainen. The Finnish defenseman was drafted in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft and this was his first full professional season in North America. Despite getting injured during the second game of a brief two-game call-up, the young defenseman had a great season Providence. In 30 games with the baby Bs, he netted four goals while dishing out 10 assists for 14 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.46. He didn’t register a point during the brief Calder Cup playoff stint but he played great defense. This is a player that I think is going to be a top pairing defenseman for the Boston Bruins for years to come. He not only possesses the defensive ability, but he also has some nice offensive ability too. Look for him to possibly make an impact in Boston as early as next season.

Goaltending

The goaltending for the Providence Bruins this season was not very consistent. They had stretches where it was lights out and others where it seemed like every shot was going in. First, we had Zane McIntyre who in his fourth season with Providence you hoped he would show that he could potentially at least be a back-up in the NHL. In 46 games with Providence this season, the University of North Dakota alum was 25-14-7 with a GAA of 2.59 and a save percentage of .898. The veteran netminder will be a group 6 unrestricted free agent this off-season. This happens when a player is 25 and have had at least three professional seasons beyond junior or collegiate hockey. I believe this means that McIntyre won’t be back in the organization next season especially with Kyle Keyser ready for the AHL and Jeremy Swayman waiting in the wings at the University of Maine.

Dan Vladar had a respectable first season in Providence with the Bruins. In 31 games with the baby Bs, the 21-year old netminder was 13-13-4 with a GAA of 2.73 and a save percentage of .898. The young goalie showed you flashes of great play and the potential to be at least a back-up goalie at the NHL level. I expect him to share the load in Providence next season with Kyle Keyser who will likely play in his first full AHL season with the spoked P. It’ll be interesting to see if Vladar is able to take a big step forward next season, I like him overall as a prospect and hope that he has a great year next year.

That brings us to Kyle Keyser. The 20-year old goalie made his Providence debut during the Calder Cup playoffs in game four of the first round. The OHL product was forced into playing time because of a Vladar injury, and McIntyre being called up to Boston as the “black aces” goalie for the playoffs. The OHL product played as well as could be expected, stopping 26 of 29 shots that were fired his way in the series finale loss. Keyser is coming off an excellent season with the Oshawa Generals where in 47 games he was 32-8 with a GAA of 2.75 and a save percentage of .915. He also played excellently during their playoff run going 8-7 with a GAA of 2.83 and a save percentage of .925. This is the goalie I am most excited about the Bruins system. I think he has the tools to eventually be a number one goaltender in the NHL.

Ultimately, it was a fun season for the Providence Bruins that was full of ups, downs and a ton of excitement. It may have ended quicker than we all would have liked, but it was awesome watching our boys in black and gold play all season. There are many reasons to be excited about not only the AHL club moving forward but also the big club in Boston. They had prospects take important steps forward, and hopefully, those players continue their development and then make waves in the NHL. On a personal note, it was fun previewing the Providence Bruins for everyone this season, and I thank you for reading. Now that my rookie season is over expect next season to be even better. I will catch up with everyone as much as I can during the off-season but feel free to send any questions or comments to me on Twitter. I hope everyone enjoys the time off 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 Post-Game Recap: Boston @ Minnesota: 4/4/19

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(Photo Credit: David Berding-USA Today Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Minnesota Wild

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

DeBrusk – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Johansson – Coyle – Senyshyn

Heinen – Frederic – Kuhlman

Nordstrom – Acciari – Backes

Defense

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Miller

Clifton – Kampfer

Goalies

Halak

Rask

Minnesota’s Lineup

Forwards

Donato – Staal – Kunin

Zucker – Eriksson Ek – Fiala

Greenway – Sturm – Rask

Foligno – Fehr – Brown

Defense

Suter –  Spurgeon

Brodin – Hunt

Bitetto – Pateryn

Goalies

Stalock

Dubnyk

First Period

This one featured plenty of storylines coming into it. For the Bruins, it marked the NHL debut of 2015 first-round pick, Zach Senyshyn. Additionally, Trent Frederic was called back up, and David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Chris Wagner sat to rest before the quickly approaching first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The goaltending matchup was Jaroslav Halak vs. Alex Stalock.

Additionally, Charlie Coyle’s first game as a Bruin in Minnesota was set to get underway, as well as Ryan Donato’s first game against the Bruins as a member of the Wild. Minnesota had a debut of their own, as former Clarkson University captain Nico Sturm joined the team on an entry-level deal as an undrafted free agent following the conclusion of Clarkson’s season.

It was a milestone game for Bruce Cassidy, as this marked his 300th NHL game behind the bench. His record coming in was 163-98-38. Steven Kampfer also hit a career milestone with his 200th NHL game.

Good chances came on both sides throughout the first period, but no one could break through. Part of this on the Bruins end was undoubtedly due to the roster fluctuation ahead of the postseason. Sensyhyn showed a willingness to get amongst the action in the first period. With good chances and tempo, it’s a little surprising that we didn’t see any scoring on either side. The shots were 9-8 in favor of Minnesota.

Score: 0-0

Second Period

The second frame got off to a rough start early on as Kevan Miller and Jordan Greenway brushed shoulders and Miller slid awkwardly into the boards. He was helped off the ice.

The Bruins came out hard to start, outshooting Minnesota 6-2 throughout the first six minutes of the period. It was just a matter of breaking through.

That all changed with a persistent forecheck from the Bruins fourth line, and good puck movement on the blue line. Joakim Nordstrom eventually buried his seventh goal of the season, assisted by Noel Acciari (8) and Matt Grzelcyk (15).

The first penalty of the game came against Luke Kunin for roughing with 5:05 to go in the period.

Good news came late in the period as Miller returned for the Bruins. For Minnesota, well, Alex Stalock was having quite a bit of fun. Here are a couple of examples.

That wasn’t the only time he went far out of his crease to play the puck, he did so on the defensive zone boards to his left. Oh yeah, he even did a bunny hop in his crease too.

Stalock’s antics were quite the spectacle. Otherwise, the Bruins took control and doubled the Wild’s shots at 18-9 for the period. Despite such domination in the shots on goal and scoring chances categories for the Bruins, their lead sat at just one.

Score: 1-0 Boston

Third Period

The plot thickened for Kevan Miller as he was not seen on the bench to start the third period.

Brandon Carlo and Kunin both went off for roughing just less than two minutes in, neither team scored with the extra space to operate on the ice. Clifton then went off for interference about four minutes later, no dice for Minnesota.

Besides the Nordstrom goal, neither goal was giving an inch. Karson Kuhlman did ring the post one time, but the goaltending battle commenced. This was until David Pastrnak buried his 38th of the season to make it 2-0 towards the end of regulation. Jake DeBrusk (15) and Patrice Bergeron (48) had the assists.

Zach Senyshyn scored his first career NHL goal on an empty netter set up by Marcus Johansson (17) and Steven Kampfer (2).

The final shots were 35-26 in favor of the Bruins. The last game of the regular season is up next for the Bruins when the Tampa Bay Lightning come to town for some matinee hockey at 1 PM on Saturday.

Final Score: 3-0 Boston

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Bruins Recall Frederic, Senyshyn From Providence

430b74a297e8b2eca1709318e09ce873Photo Courtesy Of Yahoo! Sports

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced today that the team has recalled forwards Trent Frederic and Zach Senyshyn from Providence on an emergency basis.

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Frederic has skated in 13 games for Boston this season, going scoreless. He made his NHL debut on January 29th against the Winnipeg Jets at the TD Garden. He has skated in 51 games for Providence this season, posting 11 goals and 11 assists for 22 points. He also posted five goals and three assists for eight points in 13 appearances for Providence last season. The St. Louis, Missouri native was selected by the Bruins in the first round (29th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

Senyshyn has skated in 62 games for Providence this season, posting 14 goals and 10 assists for 24 points. Last season, he posted numbers of 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points in 66 games in Providence. Prior to turning pro, Senyshyn spent three seasons in the OHL with the Soo Greyhounds posting 114 goals and 63 assists for 177 points in 195 career games. The Ottawa, Ontario native was drafted by the Bruins in the first round (15th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Senyshyn will likely make his NHL debut tomorrow night in Minnesota as this could be a showcase for him to show what he has in his first career call up. Frederic should also see some playing over the next two games probably on the third line. Senyshyn should see time on the second line perhaps with David Krejci and potentially even time on the power play. Both guys have the ability to truly impress over these next two games and could develop some momentum into the next season when they attempt to make the big club in Boston.

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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

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

Click Here For The Boston Bruins 2018-19 Regular Season Schedule and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com

Click Here for The Providence Bruins Schedule and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com