For Bruins’ Tuukka Rask There’s More To Life Than Hockey

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( Photo Credit: NHL.com  )

By: Pasi Tuominen  |  Follow Me On Twitter @pasituominen

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is one of the best in his trade but make no mistake: this is a guy who values life off the ice as well.

After 34 starts in the 2019–2020 season, Rask ranks among the top goaltenders in the NHL. Coming into the season wasn’t easy, though. No one needs to be reminded of what happened in the Stanley Cup final last summer.

“It bugged me for a long time, and it still kind of does,” Rask told me recently. “But I was OK with the defeat after a while. Now that I have kids, there’s more to life than just hockey.

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“We gave our everything but came one win short. It could have gone either way. But that’s how sports are.”

Soon after the seven-game series against the St. Louis Blues, Rask headed home with his family. “I spent July in Finland and came back to Boston in August for some more serious training. Two months of playoff hockey was a tough call. In the summer, I had to take it easy and recuperate, too.

“Sometimes you have to forget about hockey, and as a father of small kids, it certainly isn’t difficult. I have played hockey for such a long time; I don’t feel that much pressure anymore. But you always have to be prepared, that’s the key. As long as you’re prepared, you don’t worry that much, and there will be no emotional burden.”

After Tim Thomas’ tenure, the Boston Bruins have put their trust mainly in European goalies. Rask shared the goaltending duties with Anton Khudobin for two seasons and does so with Jaroslav Halak now. After Sunday’s game at Madison Square Garden, Halak has 26 starts. Rask has been the starter in 34 contests.

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“I have great chemistry with Jaro, just like I had with Khudobin. Things are working out great. Jaro is a good goalie and a nice guy. We both work hard and try to help the team win hockey games. Sometimes I play more, sometimes Jaro does. It goes in cycles, really.

“Hockey is so fast and physically demanding that you must get some rest occasionally. Otherwise, you’ll get worn out. And if that happens, it’s hard to get your groove back. Sometimes you’re on a roll, sometimes you’re not. There’s no secret to that. It seems, though, that some months tend to be worse than others. During bad spells some people start to panic–I don’t.”

Although just five teams have scored more goals than the Bruins this season, Rask points out that Boston is a defense-first group. Indeed: the Bruins have allowed a league-low 146 goals.

“Our mentality is to defend well and create offense out of that,” Rask said after Saturday’s win over the Detroit Red Wings. “It’s huge in this league and it works for us. If you want to go far in the playoffs, that’s how you have to play.”

The Bruins followed the Detroit win by defeating the New York Rangers at MSG on Sunday, 3-1. It was one of those nights that Halak got the call while Tuukka watched from the bench.

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“When you’re playing, you see the plays and mistakes differently. But when you’re not playing, you don’t analyze that much. On the bench, I just try to not be hit by the puck…”

There’s been a number of Finns – 14 to be exact – on the Bruins roster over the years. Young defenseman Urho Vaakanainen is one of them. Vaakanainen mainly plays with the AHL’s Providence Bruins; however, he’s been recalled a few times and has seven NHL games under his belt now.

“He’s played well and filled his role,” says Tuukka Rask. “He’s a mobile defenseman and gives a good first pass. His style of play suits us.”

Rask, who turns 33 in March, will have a contract year in 2020–2021, but it seems the Finnish shot-stopper is in Beantown for the long haul. Boston loves Rask, and the feeling is mutual.

“I enjoy the city of Boston as much as I enjoy the team. This has become my home. I tend to settle down in one place, I’ve always been like that. I accept changes only when they are absolutely necessary.”

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Recall D Urho Vaakanainen, Place F Joakim Nordstrom on IR

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Photo: Winslow Townson / Associated Press

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

This morning, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced the team recalled defense prospect Urho Vaakanainen on an emergency basis from the Providence Bruins, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate. The move was first reported by Mark Divver, saying the move appeared in the AHL’s transaction log.

 

Sweeney also announced that forward Joakim Nordstrom has been placed on injured reserve. Nordstrom has 4-3-7 totals through 39 contests with Boston this season, including aa minus-seven rating. During his first season with the Bruins last year, the Swede had 7-5-12 numbers in 70 games before adding three goals and five assists in the playoffs.

This season Vaakanainen has four goals and eight assists for 12 points through 42 AHL contests to go along with a plus-14 rating and 16 penalty minutes. In 72 career AHL games, the Joensuu, Finland, native holds 8-18-26 totals in addition to a plus-16 rating.

Vaakanainen has appeared in five NHL games with Boston this season, registering two shots on goal and a plus-two rating. Last season , Vaakanainen appeared in two games with the Bruins last season before going down with a concussion, notching two shots and a rating of minus-one.

General manager Don Sweeney and the Bruins selected Vaakanainen with the 18th-overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NHL entry draft. Vaakanainen played three seasons in the Finnish Elite League from 2015 to 2018, skating in 109 total games and recording 7-16-23 numbers.

During the 2018-19 season, the 21-year-old served as an assistant captain on Team Finland during the World Junior Championships, helping the team to a gold medal with four assists in seven games. Vaakanainen’s father, Harri, coached Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask in Finland.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 164 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Prospect Lauzon Is Making A Case To Stay At The NHL Level

( Photo Credit: Boston Bruins / @NHLBruins / NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins defensive prospect Jeremy Lauzon’s road to the National Hockey League has certainly been fun to watch as a person that tracks developing players selected in the annual league draft at the beginning of every summer. A product of the controversial 2015 Entry Draft that was held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, Lauzon was selected in the second round (52nd Overall) and with the small sample size at the NHL level thus far, the selection of the Quebec, Canada native is definitely paying dividends and proof that the scouting staff didn’t exactly fumble the whole weekend in Florida that was Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney’s first event as an NHL executive.

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Jeremy and his hockey development really got exposed as so many other young talented men increase their competitive edge and draft expectations in leagues like the nationwide Canadian Hockey League. Playing for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the skilled Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Lauzon caught the eyes of many thirsty scouts that were in the house on a game by game basis watching his strong defensive game and crushing hits either along the boards or opposing players entering the defensive zone. With the QMJHL Huskies, he contributed offensively with career 35-95-130 numbers in 200 games played but has seemingly transitioned his game to a shutdown role in the higher professional hockey leagues.

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Since joining the American Leagues Providence Bruins Lauzon has appeared in 126 career games production 3-24-27 and has been a workhorse getting himself noticed for opportunities like he’s currently having with his recalls to Boston. In my opinion, he boxes out players very well and has the intelligence enough to have defensive responsibilities against bigger forwards trying to create havoc in front of his fellow goaltender. Jeremy is a really good special teams asset as he forces players to make immediate decisions as he minimizes opponents space but also quick enough to get back and help with defensive coverage.

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In 19 career NHL games with Boston, he’s seen 16 appearances in the 2018-19 season contributing a goal to three games thus far in the 2019-20 campaign adding his second NHL tuck. It’s going to be interesting to see what the Bruins are going to do with the young up and comer and forever question of when veteran defenseman Kevan Miller is going to make a return this season or be ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. To me, if the Miller option of off the table, I’d like to see Lauzon get more time obviously but would hate to see him being used to go down to Providence just because he’s waiver exempt. The better players should get the time in my opinion, regardless of seniority.

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In the above tweet, co-host of the Big Bad Bruins Podcast Chris Blackey brings up a valid point of Lauzon’s presence when it comes to the B’s organization moving forward. If he’s not being shopped as mentioned above, what if he’s in fact with the higher Boston club to show what he can do while the Bruins look to move a current blueliner with the 2020 NHL trade deadline coming later this month on the 24th. Could John Moore be shopped or a player like Matt Grzelyck be a candidate to be shipped out of town to make room for the young Lauzon who in my opinions certainly deserved more time at the NHL level and adds that element of physicality on the backend that was missed during the 2019 Stanley CVup Playoffs? All remain to be seen of course.

Going back to his time with the Bruins top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins, I like the game time situations Head Coach Jay Leach has put the developing defenseman to grow his game and allow him to dictate his ultimate success. He’s certainly been a rock on the blueline in his time in the AHL particularly this season with fellow players like Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanaienen, Alex Petrovic, and recently signed to AHL extension Josiah Didier. Hats off the Providence coaching staff and the support of veterans on the team that has all molded this work in progress into what many folks are seenin for the first time when he makes it to the NHL level.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 163 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 17 Preview

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 17 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 24-16-2-2 (52 points) and 4-5-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a challenging week that saw them lose to the Sound Tigers 2-1 before beating the same Bridgeport club 3-1. The Bruins would then go on to lose to Springfield 6-5 in overtime before beating Lehigh Valley 3-2 in a shootout.

This weekend’s hockey action starts on Friday, January 24, 2020, when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms travel to Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The action wraps up on Saturday, January 25, 2020, when the Hershey Bears invade Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunk. It should be exciting hockey you do not want to miss.

Friday, January 24, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (HOME)

The Friday meeting will mark the third of six the two teams will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins would go on to win 3-0. The now in Boston Anders Bjork, Brendan Gaunce, and Paul Carey would score goals. Max Lagace would stop all 28 shots he faced in what would be his first game as a Bruin. The most recent matchup saw the Bruins win 3-2 in a shootout. Oskar Steen and Zach Senyshyn scored goals. Max Lagace stopped 26 of 28 shots he faced.

Historically, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms have given the Providence Bruins fits. Over the past five seasons, the Providence club is 11-13-2. This includes 6-6-1 at home. This game, however, should not reflect that. The Philadelphia affiliate skates into the matchup 18-19-1-5 (42 points) and 6-3-0-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 13th in Eastern Conference.

The only real positive thing that you can say about the Lehigh Valley club is that their defense is not horrible. They’ve given up 118 goals in 43 games. This means they are only giving up 2.74 goals a game. The problem with that is they’ve only scored 103 goals this season. This means they have a -15 goal differential, while also only scoring 2.39 goals a game. Scoring less than you give up is not how you consistently win hockey games.

Some other stats of note for the Phantoms, they are 9-4-0-1 when leading after the first period. 11-0-0-1 when leading after the second period. They are 3-10-0-1 when trailing after the first period. The Lehigh Valley club is 3-15-0-3 when down after the second period.

To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 117 goals in 44 games while scoring 138. That is a +21 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.65 goals a game while scoring 3.13. The Providence club is 13-0 when leading after one period and 19-0 when leading after two. However, they are 2-10-1-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-12-0-1 when trailing after two.

Saturday, January 25, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Hershey Bears (HOME)

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

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

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

The Hershey Bears come into the game 25-14-2-3 (55 points) and 6-4 in their last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference. Providence has had success against the Washington affiliate going 17-9-1-1 over the five seasons. Including 10-2-0-1 at home.

The Hershey Bears are 17-7-0-1 when they outshoot their opponents. They are also 7-7-2-2 when they are being outshot by their opponents. The Bruins, on the other hand, are 11-11-2-2 when they outshoot opponents and 8-5 when being outshot by opponents. The Washington affiliate is 7-1-0-1 when leading after the first period and 14-0-0-1 when leading after the second. However, they are just 4-6-2-1 when trailing after the first and 3-11-0-1 when down after two.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Trent Frederic: Trent Frederic is a guy who started off slow, but is having a good season. In 41 games this year, he’s netted six goals while dishing out 17 assists for 23 total points. This includes netting two goals and dishing out four assists for six total points in his last six games. The former University of Wisconsin Badger is only two points away from his total of all last season. This year the young center has really rounded out his game in all zones.

Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce is in his first season with Providence. He came to the Bruins after spending his entire professional career in the Vancouver Canucks system. In 34 games this season, he’s netted 10 goals while dishing out 11 assists for 21 total points. This includes netting three goals and dishing out three assists for six total points in his last seven games. The veteran forward has been a great addition to the Providence forward crop.

Not

Josiah Didier: Josiah Didier is also in his first season with the Providence Bruins. The veteran defenseman came the Bruins after spending last season with the Calder Cup Champion Charlotte Checkers. In 44 games this season, he hasn’t netted a goal while dishing out eight assists for eight total points. This includes registering two assists for two total points in his last 18 games. Hopefully, the University of Denver alum can provide some offense soon.

Joona Koppanen: Joona Koppanen is in his second season with Providence. The young forward came to the Bruins after spending the beginning of his career in Finland. In 33 games this year, he’s netted seven goals while dishing out seven assists for 14 total points. This includes registering one point, an assist in his last seven games. Hopefully, the former fifth-round pick can pick up his offensive game soon.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Paul Carey: Paul Carey is having an excellent season with Providence. In 44 games this year, he’s netted 17 goals while dishing out 13 assists for 30 total points. This includes netting three goals and dishing out three assists for six total points in four games against Hershey this season. The Bruins’ Captain has played so well that he earned himself a spot on the AHL All-Star Team.  The success Carey has had both this season and against Hershey makes him a prime candidate to have a big weekend.

On The Blue Line

Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen came into the season has one of the Boston Bruins’ top prospects. The young defenseman has had an excellent season overall. In 39 games this season, he’s netted four goals and dished out seven assists for 11 total points. This includes netting three goals and dishing out an assist for four total points in four games against Hershey this season. Look for him to have a big weekend.

In Net

Max Lagace: Max Lagace has had an excellent first season with Providence. On the season, he’s 16-6-2 with a 2.43 GAA and .917 save percentage. This includes a league-leading five shutouts. The veteran netminder has provided stability at the back end of the Bruins’ defense. Look for him to have a big weekend.

The Providence Bruins have had a rough six weeks after starting the year so hot. The Providence club currently sits in a playoff spot by two points. These two games this weekend are both very winnable and ones the team needs to win to push towards the playoffs. I expect the Bruins to win both games this weekend. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 16 Preview

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 16 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 22-15-1-2 (47 points) and 4-6 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a superb week that saw them beat the Springfield Thunderbirds 5-2 and 5-3. This weekend is another big weekend with three games in three days plus a game next Wednesday. Four games in a short period are never easy.

The hockey action begins on Friday, January 17, 2020, when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers travel to Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The action continues on Saturday, January 18, 2020, when the Providence Bruins make their way to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to take on the Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena. The three games in three days conclude on Sunday, January 19, 2020, when the Springfield Thunderbirds come back to Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunk. Week 16 comes to an end on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms invade Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Friday, January 17, 2020 (HOME) and Saturday, January 18, 2020 (AWAY) Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers

The weekend home and home series with mark the fifth and sixth of 12 that these two teams will have this season. The first game saw the Bruins shutout the Sound Tigers 4-0, getting goals from Peter Cehlarik, Cameron Hughes, Robert Lantosi, and Ryan Fitzgerald. Goalie Max Lagace was excellent in net topping all 30 shots fired his way.

In the second meeting, the Providence club would win 4-1, getting goals from Joona Koppanen, Brendan Gaunce, Alex Petrovic, and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Max Lagace was fantastic in net stopping 31 of 32 shots fired his way.

The most third meeting saw the Bruins lose 2-0. Goaltender Max Lagace was up to the task in net stopping 33 of 35 shots fired his way. The most recent battle saw the Bruins win 5-0. Brendan Gaunce (2), Ryan Fitzgerald, Trent Frederic, and Jack Studnicka had goals. Max Lagace stopped all 17 shots fired his way.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers provide a favorable matchup for the Providence club. The Bridgeport club comes into the weekend 14-22-4-1 (33 points) and 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for eighth in the Atlantic Division and 16th in the Eastern Conference.  Furthermore, the Bruins are 24-17-6-3 against the Islanders’ affiliate over the past five seasons.

The biggest key to Bruins’ victory in these two games is taking an early lead and keeping it. The Sound Tigers are 1-12-2 when trailing after one and 0-15-2 when trailing after two. To add insult to injury, the Bridgeport club in 41 games has only scored 92 goals while giving up 133. Not only is this a horrendous -41 goal differential, but they’re only scoring 2.24 goals a game while giving up  3.24. They are giving up a full goal more than they are scoring. This isn’t a winning formula.

To compare, the Providence Bruins are 12-0 when leading after one period and 18-0 when leading after two periods. They’ve also scored 126 goals while giving up only 106 in 40 games. That means, not only do they have a +20 goal differential, but they are scoring 3.15 goals a game while only giving up 2.65. These are games that Providence must win. Bridgeport is not a good club at all.

Sunday, January 19, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (HOME)

The Sunday matchup will be the eighth of 14 these two teams will have. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 5-2, getting goals from Peter Cehlarik and Anders Bjork. Goalie Dan Vladar was subpar in net stopping 23 of the 28 shots fired his way.

The second game saw the Bruins losing 5-4 in overtime while getting goals from Robert Lantosi, Joona Koppanen, Scott Conway, and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Max Lagace stopped 30 of the 35 shots fired his way. The third meeting saw the Providence club come out on top 5-4 in overtime. They would get goals from Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Robert Lantosi, Peter Cehlarik, and Paul Carey (OT). Veteran netminder Max Lagace stopped 24 of the 28 shots he faced.

The fourth battle saw the Bruins come out on top 5-0. Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Jack Studnicka, Paul Carey, and Oskar Steen had the goals for Providence. Dan Vladar was out of this world in net stopping all 42 shots fired his way. The fifth game saw the Bruins come out on top 4-3. Robert Lantosi, Jack Studnicka, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Pavel Shen were the Bruins goal scorers. Dan Vladar was on his game, making 31 stops out of 34 shots.

The sixth battle would prove to be a good one. The Bruins won 5-2. Trent Frederic, Brendan Gaunce, Ryan Fitzgerald, Anton Blidh, and Karson Kuhlman would score goals. Dan Vladar stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced in net. The most recent matchup would also be a good one. The Bruins would win 5-3. Brendan Woods (2), Peter Cehlarik, Karson Kuhlman, and Anton Blidh would net goals. Max Lagace would go on to stop 21 of the 24 shots he faced in net.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 21-18-2 (44 points) and 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, this is still a favorable matchup for the Providence Bruins. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 28-15-4 against the Panthers’ affiliate, including 14-8-1 at home.

The Thunderbirds have been winning with excellent defense. They’ve only given up 117 goals in 41 games while scoring 125. This is a plus-eight goal differential. This also means they are only giving up 2.85 goals a game while scoring 3.04. The Springfield club is 5-2 when leading after the first period. They are also 14-2 when leading after two periods. On the flip side, they are 4-8 when trailing after one period. They are also 1-13-1 when trailing after two periods.

To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 106 goals in 40 games while scoring 126. That is a +20 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.65 goals a game while scoring 3.15. The Providence club is 12-0 when leading after one period and 19-0 when leading after two. However, they are 2-9-1-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-11-0-1 when trailing after two. These two teams are evenly matched and getting and sustaining an early lead, are imperative to winning.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (HOME)

The Wednesday meeting will mark the second of six the two teams will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins would go on to win 3-0. The now in Boston Anders Bjork, Brendan Gaunce, and Paul Carey would score goals. Max Lagace would stop all 28 shots he faced in what would be his first game as a Bruin.

Historically, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms have given the Providence Bruins fits. Over the past five seasons, the Providence club is 10-13-2. This includes 5-6-1 at home. This game, however, should not reflect that. The Philadelphia affiliate skates into the matchup 16-19-1-4 (37 points) and 4-6 in their last 10 games. This is good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 15th in Eastern Conference.

The only real positive thing that you can say about the Lehigh Valley club is that their defense is not horrible. They’ve given up 114 goals in 40 games. This means they are only giving up 2.85 goals a game. The problem with that is they’ve only scored 93 goals this season. This means they have a -21 goal differential, while also only scoring 2.32 goals a game. Scoring less than you give up is not how you consistently win hockey games.

Some other stats of note for the Phantoms, they are 8-4-0-1 when leading after the first period. 9-0-0-1 when leading after the second period. They are 3-10-0-1 when trailing after the first period. The Lehigh Valley club is 3-15-0-3 when down after the second period. This is another game that you would expect the Providence Bruins to come out victorious.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Karson Kuhlman: Karson Kuhlman had a rough start to his year. While up in Boston, he suffered an injury eight games into his season. The former University of Minnesota-Duluth Captain has been excellent in the four games since he came back. In those games, he’s netted two goals and dished out an assist for three total points. On top of that, he’s looked great on the ice. He’s skating with purpose and attacking the puck whenever he’s on the ice.

Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce is in his first season with the Providence Bruins. He’s had a good season overall. In 30 games, he’s netted eight goals and dished out 11 assists for 19 total points. This includes netting a goal and dished out three assists for four total points over his last three games. The former Utica Comets forward has provided a spark offensively that the team has needed.

Not

Oskar Steen: Oskar Steen is in his first professional season in North America. The Sweden native has had a rough time adjusting to the North American ice. In 38 games, he’s netted four goals and dished out seven assists for 11 total points. He also has not registered a point over his last eight games played. Steen is still young. I expect him to adjust to the smaller ice and start producing soon.

Alex Petrovic: Alex Petrovic is someone who started out on fire in his first season with the Providence Bruins. In 35 games, he’s netted two goals while dishing out 17 assists for 19 total points. However, he hasn’t registered a point over his last six games. Hopefully, the former Edmonton Oiler and Florida Panther defenseman can pick up his offensive play soon.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka is one of the Bruins’ top prospects. He’s also having an excellent season. In 38 games, he’s netted 14 goals and dished out 12 assists for 26 total points. He also earned himself a spot on the AHL All-Star team. Despite not registering a point in his last six games, the young forward still looks good in all zones. Look for him to break his pointless streak this weekend.

On The Blue Line

Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen is having an excellent season with the Providence Bruins. Not only is he playing well defensively, but he is playing well offensively as well. In 34 games, he’s netted four goals and dished out seven assists for 11 total points. Look for him to have a big weekend at both ends of the ice.

In Net

Max Lagace: Max Lagace has had an excellent first season in Providence. He is 14-6-2 with a 2.49 GAA and a .915 save percentage. He’s also registered a league-high five shutouts this year. With Tuukka Rask being injured, it looks like Vladar could be called up to Boston on an emergency basis. This means Lagace is going to have to have a stellar weekend for the Providence club.

The Providence Bruins bounced back in a big way this past weekend after their worst one of the season. The next four games on the schedule are a good chance for the Providence club to build upon that and continue the momentum. Every game this weekend is a game that they should win. It would be nice to bank some points and get a little bit of a cushion in the standings heading into the Calder Cup playoffs. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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

Bruins Call Up Jeremy Lauzon From AHL, Place Charlie McAvoy On IR

(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

By: Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512

On Monday morning, the Boston Bruins announced that defenseman Jeremy Lauzon has been recalled from Providence on an emergency basis and Charlie McAvoy was placed on injured reserve.

Lauzon has been developing as a strong defensive defenseman for Providence this season. The 22-year-old leads the team in plus-minus with a plus-16 rating in 35 games. He has also set a personal record in points, recording one goal and nine assists. Lauzon has also shown that he can be an intimidating physical presence and a challenge to play against. At 6’1″ and 205 pounds, he has the tools to keep this up at the NHL level. He has logged 16 games with Boston, all coming during the 2018-19 season, recording one point (a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights), two penalty minutes, and a minus-1 rating.

Lauzon’s call-up gives the Bruins another opportunity to see how well the defensive prospect has been developing and test his NHL readiness. The Quebec native was drafted in the second round of the 2015 NHL draft, 52nd overall. This was the sixth Bruins pick of the draft, with Lauzon being the last of three defensemen taken in the first two rounds by Boston, the other two being Jakub Zboril (13th overall) and Brandon Carlo (37th overall). Lauzon, Zboril, and Urho Vaakanainen are widely considered to be the Bruins’ top defensive prospects and the best options for call-ups when injuries arise. That Lauzon got the call this time is a vote of confidence in his abilities by the Bruins’ coaching staff and front office.

McAvoy Placed on IR

Charlie McAvoy was injured on a hit by Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie on December 23rd. He has not played or practiced with the team since then. It has been officially listed as a lower-body injury, but the Bruins have not given a timeline for his recovery as of yet.

McAvoy has skated in 38 games so far this season, recording 13 assists and a plus-13 rating. The defenseman’s injury comes at an inopportune time as he has been pushing to score his first goal of the season and get the offensive part of his game moving. His move to IR shows that he might be out longer than coach Bruce Cassidy anticipated.

Injuries Piling Up

The addition of Lauzon adds a healthy body to a depleted Bruins blue line. Connor Clifton was injured last night in a matchup with the Buffalo Sabres. There has been no official report as of yet about the nature of his injury, but the Boston Globe’s Matt Porter reported on Twitter during the game that he did not return to the bench after the end of the first period. The Bruins later tweeted that he was officially ruled out of the game with an upper-body injury.

The Bruins face off against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Depending on which players return from injury and what the coaching staff decide, Lauzon could be making his 2019-20 debut with Boston.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 160 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 13 Preview

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

It’s week 13 of the AHL season, and the Providence Bruins are 19-11-1-2 (41 Points) and 6-4 in their last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a tough week that saw them get shutout by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 1-0 and then be shoutout again by Hartford 3-0. After the holiday, the team has two games on the road that you don’t want to miss!

The hockey action starts on Friday, December 27, 2019, when the Providence Bruins invade Springfield, Massachusetts, to take on the Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. The action concludes on Saturday, December 28. 2019, when the Providence Bruins make their way to Hartford, Connecticut, to take on the Wolf Pack at the XL Center.

Friday, December 27, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (AWAY)

The Friday night matchup will be the fifth of 14 these two teams will have. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 5-2, getting goals from Peter Cehlarik and Anders Bjork. Goalie Dan Vladar was subpar in net stopping 23 of the 28 shots fired his way. The second game saw the Bruins losing 5-4 in overtime while getting goals from Robert Lantosi, Joona Koppanen, Scott Conway, and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Max Lagace stopped 30 of the 35 shots fired his way.

The third meeting saw the Providence club come out on top 5-4 in overtime. They would get goals from Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Robert Lantosi, Peter Cehlarik, and Paul Carey (OT). Veteran netminder Max Lagace stopped 24 of the 28 shots he faced. The most recent battle saw the Bruins come out on top 5-0. Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Jack Studnicka, Paul Carey, and Oskar Steen had the goals for Providence. Dan Vladar was out of this world in net stopping all 42 shots fired his way.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 16-15-2 (34 points) and 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, this is still a favorable matchup for the Providence Bruins. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 25-15-4 against the Panthers’ affiliate, including 12-7-3 in Springfield.

The Thunderbirds have been winning with excellent defense. They’ve only given up 91 goals in 33 games while scoring 95. This is a plus-four goal differential. This also means they are only giving up 2.75 goals a game while scoring 2.87. The Springfield club is 4-2 when leading after the first period. They are also 9-2 when leading after two periods. On the flip side, they are 3-6 when trailing after one period. They are also 1-10-1 when trailing after two periods.

To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 83 goals in 33 games while scoring 109. That is a +26 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.51 goals a game while scoring 3.30. The Providence club is 10-0 when leading after one period and 15-0 when leading after two. However, they are 2-6-1-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-8-0-1 when trailing after two. These two teams are evenly matched and getting and sustaining an early lead, are imperative to winning.

Saturday, December 28, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (AWAY)

The Saturday matchup will mark the sixth of 10 meetings the two teams will have this year. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 2-1. Providence got their lone goal from Jack Studnicka. Goalie Kyle Keyser was up to the task in net stopping 23 of 25 shots that were fired his way. The second battle saw the Bruins win 4-3 in a shootout. They got goals from Scott Conway, Jack Studnicka, and Robert Lantosi. Max Lagace was able to stop 35 of the 38 shots he faced.

The third game saw the Bruins fall 5-2. They received goals from Ryan Fitzgerald and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Kyle Keyser was able to stop 24 of 28 shots he faced. The fourth battle saw the Providence Bruins fall 4-1. They got their lone goal from Cameron Hughes. Goalie Max Lagace stopped 18 of 22 shots he faced. The fifth battle was a bad one, the Bruins would lose 3-0. Goalie Max Lagace was up to the task in net stopping 18 of the 20 shots he faced.

The battle with the Hartford club is going to be challenging. The Rangers’ affiliate comes into the game 17-7-2-5 (41 points), including 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for first in the Atlantic Division and second 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 22-15-4-2, including 8-9-3-1 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 31 games. That means they are only giving up 2.61 goals a game. Providence, on the other hand, has scored 109 goals in 33 games. That’s 3.30 goals a game. It’ll be a great battle between the two teams.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka has been excellent for the Providence Bruins this season. It’s his first full season in Providence, and while there have been some growing pains, on the whole, the young center has developed nicely. In 31 games this season, he’s netted 13 goals while also dishing out 12 assists for 25 total points. This includes three goals and one assist for four total points in his last five games.

Robert Lantosi: Robert Lantosi is another player who is in his first full season in Providence. In 29 games, the young forward has eight goals while dishing out 13 assists for 21 total points. Lantosi came to Providence after signing an AHL deal in the summer. He spent most of his career in Slovakia before coming to the Bruins. He’s someone who could battle for a two-way NHL deal if he keeps up his play.

Not

Cooper Zech: Cooper Zech is another person in his first full season with the Providence Bruins. He came to the Providence club after signing an AHL contract last year. In 21 games this year, he’s netted one goal while dishing out five assists for six total points. After a stellar weekend that saw him grab five points, he’s come back down to earth and hasn’t registered a point in his last four games. Let’s hope he gets back to his scoring ways.

Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce has had an up and down season for Providence this year. In 23 games this season, he’s netted seven goals and dished out seven assists for 14 total points. This overall is great. However, over his past seven games, the veteran forward has only registered one point an assist. Let’s hope he gets back to scoring soon.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Paul Carey: Paul Carey has been excellent in his first season as the Providence Bruins’ Captain. In 32 games, the veteran forward has netted 14 goals and dished out 11 assists for 25 total points. The former Boston College Eagle has also provided valuable leadership to a young team. Look for him to continue that this week.

On The Blue Line

Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen has been very good overall for Providence. After a rough stretch to start the year, he was called up to Boston because of injury. Since returning to Providence, he’s been excellent both offensively and defensively. Overall on the year, the young defenseman has netted four goals and dished out seven assists for 11 total points in 29 games. Look for him this weekend.

In Net

Max Lagace: Max Lagace has been excellent in his first season with Providence. He holds a 13-4-2 record with a 2.36 GAA and a .919 save percentage. The veteran netminder has also recorded a league-leading five shutouts. Lagace has provided leadership for the young goalies as well.

The Providence Bruins find themselves in a favorable position coming out of the holiday. They are in a playoff spot comfortably. If the Providence club continues playing the way they have been, they will make a strong push towards the post-season after the New Year. I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday and has a great New Year. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 11 Preview

 

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 11 of the AHL season is here. The Providence Bruins are 16-9-1-2 (35 points) and 7-2-1 in the last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a week that saw them beat the Binghamton Devils 6-2 and the Utica Comets 3-2 in a shootout. They would then fall to the Hartford Wolf Pack 4-1 before falling to the Syracuse Crunch 4-1. This week sees the Bruins have a home and home with a familiar foe before traveling to Pennsylvania for a game.

The hockey action starts on Saturday, December 14, 2019, when the Providence Bruins invade Springfield, Massachusetts, to take on the Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. The Springfield Thunderbirds would return the favor on Sunday, December 15, 2019, when they take on the Bruins at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Finally, the week wraps up on Wednesday, December 18, 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.

Saturday, December 14, 2019 (AWAY) and Sunday, December 15, 2019 (HOME) Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds

The weekend home and home will be the third and fourth of 14 games these two teams will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 5-2, getting goals from Peter Cehlarik and Anders Bjork. Goalie Dan Vladar was subpar in net stopping 23 of the 28 shots fired his way. The second game saw the Bruins losing 5-4 in overtime while getting goals from Robert Lantosi, Joona Koppanen, Scott Conway, and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Max Lagace stopped 30 of the 35 shots fired his way.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 14-13 (28 points) and 4-6 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, this is still a favorable matchup for the Providence Bruins. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 23-15-4 against the Panthers’ affiliate, including 11-7-3 in Springfield and 12-8-1 in Providence.

The Thunderbirds have been winning with excellent defense. They’ve only given up 72 goals in 27 games while scoring 80. This is a plus-eight goal differential. This also means they are only giving up 2.66 goals a game while scoring 2.96. The Springfield club is 4-2 when leading after the first period. They are also 8-1 when leading after two periods. On the flip side, they are 2-5 when trailing after one period. They are also 1-9 when trailing after two periods.

To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 75 goals in 28 games while scoring 93. That is a +18 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.67 goals a game while scoring 3.32. The Providence club is 9-0 when leading after one period and 12-0 when leading after two. However, they are 2-6-1-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-5-0-1 when trailing after two. These two teams are evenly matched and getting and sustaining an early lead, are imperative to winning.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AWAY)

The Wednesday matchup will mark the first of six the two teams will play. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins skate into the contest 13-9-3-1 (30 points) and 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence Bruins have had some success against the Pittsburgh affiliate over the past five years, going 12-6-3-3. However, they are only 5-5-2 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 110 penalties in 26 games. That means they are giving up 4.23 penalties a game. They’ve also given up 22 goals out of those 110 penalty kill opportunities. That’s 80%, which is good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. This seems like the perfect storm for the Providence club to gain confidence on the power-play.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is also excellent when they get an early lead and keep it. They are 6-1-1 when leading after the first period and 7-0-1 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.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Cooper Zech: Cooper Zech is in his first full professional season with the Providence Bruins. The young defenseman came to the Bruins when he signed an AHL deal after an excellent freshman season at Ferris State University. It’s been an up and down season for Zech. In 18 games, he’s netted one goal and dished out five assists for six total points. However, in his last five games, the young defenseman has found the back of the net once while dishing four assists for five total points. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

Ryan Fitzgerald: Ryan Fitzgerald has had a good season for the Providence Bruins thus far. In 28 games, he’s netted seven goals and dished out nine assists for 16 total points. The former Boston College Eagle has been even better over his past 12 games netting three goals while dishing out six assists for nine total points. The veteran forward has been a stabilizing force on offense. It’s needed due to players moving up and down from Providence and Boston because of injury. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

Not

Oskar Steen: Oskar Steen is also in his first professional season here in North America. The young forward has taken time adjusting to the smaller ice. In 28 games on the year, the Sweden native has netted three goals while dishing out seven assists for 10 total points. Despite this, Steen hasn’t registered a point in his last six games. Hopefully, he can adjust to the North American ice and shake off the rust soon.

Jeremy Lauzon: Jeremy Lauzon has had an up and down year for Providence. In 28 games this year, he has seven points, all assists. While the young defenseman has matched his point total from the last two seasons, he still hasn’t registered a point over his past six games. Let’s hope the former Rouyn-Noranda Husky can turn it around and get back on the scoresheet.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Paul Carey: The Providence Bruins Captain Paul Carey has had an excellent season. In 27 games, he’s scored 12 goals while dishing out 10 assists for 22 total points. He’s also provided leadership that a young team needs. With injuries and call-ups, the former NCAA Champion has been a big constant that the offense has needed. Watch for the Captain to have an excellent weekend.

On The Blue Line

Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen has had an up and down season for Providence. Initially, the young defenseman didn’t seem like himself on the ice. He was then called up to Boston because of injury and played really well for the big club. Since being reassigned to Providence, he’s been on another level. He’s playing well in all three zones and controlling the overall play when he’s on the ice. In 24 games this year, Vaakanainen has netted four goals while dishing out six assists for 10 total points. Look for him this weekend.

In Net

Dan Vladar: Since coming back from injury, Dan Vladar has been excellent for Providence. On the year he is 3-2 with a 1.84 GAA and a .928 save percentage. Look for him to continue his hot play this weekend.

The Providence Bruins are in a good position this holiday season. The Providence club sits comfortably in a playoff seed. This is what you expect from a team looking to compete for a championship. Let’s hope they can keep up their play over the weekend. These are three games that they should be able to win. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 10 Preview

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 10 of the AHL season is here, and the Providence Bruins skate into it 14-7-1-2 (31 points) and 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for first in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference. Our boys in black and gold are coming off a superb week that saw them beat the defending Calder Cup Champion Charlotte Checkers 4-1 and 4-0 in Charlotte. This week the team return home for a dreaded three games in three days stretch.

The hockey action kicks off on Friday, December 6, 2019, when the Binghamton Devils invade Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunk. The action continues on Saturday, December 7, 2019, when the Utica Comets soar into town to take on the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin Donuts Center. The three games in three days conclude on Sunday, December 8, 2019, when the Hartford Wolf Pack come to Rhode Island to take on the Bruins at the Dunk. The hockey action wraps up on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, when the Syracuse Crunch comes to town to take on the Providence club at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

Friday, December 6, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Binghamton Devils (HOME)

The Friday night matchup marks the first of two that these two teams will have this season. The Binghamton Devils have had a rough start to their season. The New Jersey affiliate skates into the game 7-11-4 (18 points) and 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for eighth in the North Division and 16th in the Eastern Conference.

Not only have the Devils had a bad start to their season, but they’re also facing a Providence club that has their number over the past five seasons. Our boys in black and gold are 13-5-1-1 against the Binghamton club during that time, including 5-3-1-1 at home. Binghamton’s defense has really let them down this season. This is why the Binghamton club is last in the conference this season.

The New Jersey affiliate has surrendered 77 goals in 22 games this year. That means they’re giving up a terrible 3.5 goals a game. In comparison, the Providence Bruins have let in 63 goals in 24 games this season. That’s a stingy 2.62 goals a game given up. If that isn’t bad enough for the Devils, their offense isn’t great either.

They’ve scored 59 goals in 22 games. That means they’re scoring 2.68 goals a game. The Bruins, on the other hand, have scored 82 goals in 24 games. That means they’re scoring 3.41 goals a game. This is a game the Providence club should absolutely win.

Saturday, December 7, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Utica Comets (HOME)

The Saturday night matchup marks the second and final meeting of the year that these two teams will have. In the first meeting, the Bruins would shutout the Comets 2-0, getting goals from Zach Senyshyn and Joona Koppanen. Netminder Max Lagace was excellent in net stopping all 34 shots he faced.

Utica comes into the game 13-8-1 (27 points) and 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the North Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Vancouver affiliate has been on a downward trend recently. They started the year 8-0. Since that start, they’ve gone 4-8-1, including a loss to Providence. To add insult to injury, the Providence Bruins are 8-5 against the Comets over the past five seasons, including 3-3 at the Dunk.

Scoring early and keeping the lead will be extremely important in this game. When leading after the first period, Utica is 7-3-1. When leading after the second, they are 9-2. The Providence Bruins, on the other hand, are 8-0 when leading after the first period. They are a perfect 11-0 when leading after the second period. This is another game I think Providence should absolutely win.

Sunday, December 8, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (HOME)

The Sunday matchup will mark the fourth 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 last 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 battle with the Hartford club is going to be challenging. The Rangers’ affiliate comes into the game 11-4-2-5 (29 points), including 3-3-2-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fifth 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 22-13-4-2, including 14-5-1-1 at the Dunk. The Wolf Pack has seen success this season thanks to a stifling defense. They’ve given up only 58 goals in 22 games. Providence, on the other hand, has scored 82 goals in 24 games. That’s 3.41 goals a game. It’ll be a great battle between the two teams.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Syracuse Crunch (HOME)

The Wednesday matchup will mark the first of two meetings the two teams will have. The Lightning affiliate skate into the matchup 11-9-2 (22 points) and 5-5 in their last 10 games. That’s good for sixth in the North Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. The two clubs haven’t played each other much over the past five seasons. Providence holds a 3-3 record, including 2-1 at home.

This has the makings of being a trap game for Providence. Even though the Syracuse club is out of a playoff spot, they’ve been a good team for the last few years. Special teams are keeping the Tampa Bay affiliate afloat. On the power play, they’ve scored 19 goals in 101 opportunities. That’s 18.8%, which is good for fifth in the North Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. Their Penalty kill is even better. They’ve given up 12 goals in 93 opportunities. That’s a stifling 87.1%, which is good for first in the North Division and second in the Eastern Conference.

The Providence Bruins’ penalty kill is also stellar. They’ve given up 14 goals in 103 opportunities. That’s 86.4%, which is good for second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference.  The Providence club also has a league-leading eight shorthanded goals. The power play, on the other hand, is not good. They’ve scored 14 goals in 89 opportunities. That’s 15.7%, which is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Brendan Woods: This is Brendan Woods’ first season in Providence. He came to the Bruins after spending last season with the Utica Comets. The former University of Wisconsin Badger has gotten the opportunity to play more recently, with players going up and down between Boston and Providence. The veteran forward has taken that opportunity and run with it. Over his past five games, he’s found the back of the net five times while dishing out two assists for seven total points. In 13 games total on the year, he’s netted five goals and dished out three assists for eight total points.

Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanninen has been on an absolute tear recently. Since being sent back down to Providence after a brief stint with Boston, the young defenseman has played in five games. In those five games, he’s found the back of the net four times while dishing out three assists for seven total points. In 20 games this year, he’s netted four goals and dished out five assists for nine total points. He’s also playing superb defense.

Not

Josiah Didier: This is Josiah Didier’s first season in Providence. The veteran defenseman came to the Bruins after winning the Calder Cup with Charlotte last season. Though he’s providing some essential leadership to the team, that hasn’t translated on the scoresheet. Over his past 15 games, the University of Denver alum has only registered one point, an assist. In 23 games this season, he hasn’t found the back of the net and dished out five assists for five total points.

Jakub Zboril: Jakub Zboril has been playing average on defense. Offensively, the game doesn’t seem to be clicking currently. Over his past 11 games, he has registered just two points, both assists. In 24 games this season, the young defenseman has netted one goal and dished out six assists for seven total points. The Bruins hoped his offense would be closer to the production he had in the QMJHL. That hasn’t happened yet, but there is still time.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Jakub Lauko: Jakub Lauko is a top prospect in the Bruins’ system. The young forward didn’t start off the season the way he’d like before getting injured. Recently, however, he’s played well. Over the past four games, he’s netted one goal, while dishing out three assists for four total points. He also had the game-winning shootout goal in a game this week. In 16 games on the season, Lauko has four goals and three assists for seven total points. Let’s hope he can keep up the hot-streak.

On The Blue Line

Urho Vaakanainen: Urho Vaakanainen has been on an absolute tear recently. Not only contributing to the scoreboard but playing elite defense while also driving the play. It wasn’t a great start to the year, but he looks like himself again after his callup to Boston. Look for him to continue the hot-streak. I would also recommend just watching him play in general. He’s a joy to watch in every facet of the game.

In Net

Dan Vladar: Dan Vladar returned from injury to Providence against Charlotte this weekend and was excellent in between the pipes. The young goalie registered his first shutout of the season. In four games this year, he is 2-1 with a 1.77 GAA and a save percentage of .936%. Look for him this weekend.

The Providence Bruins have been excellent this year. They sit atop the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference. With the team clicking in all facets of the game, it seems like they’re gearing up for a big run. The Providence club could have one of those seasons that’s talked about for years to come. We should all just sit back and enjoy it. I hope everyone enjoys the games this weekend. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Bruins’ Defensemen And Goaltenders Grades At The Quarter Point Of The Season

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( Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

The Boston Bruins currently sit atop the entire NHL and their defense and goaltending is a major reason why. They’ve allowed the second least amount of goals in the league and with their incredibly deep defensive core and top goaltending tandem, they should continue their stellar play for the rest of the year. Now at the quarter-point of the season, it seems like a good time to look at how good the Bs defense and goaltending has been.

Zdeno Chara – A

It’s hard to believe that a 42-year-old is having one of his best statistical seasons in years, but Zdeno Chara continues to amaze. Through 26 games, the big man has five goals, seven assists, and a +16 rating. While we’ve all seen his legs slow down over the years, Chara still remains one of the best shut-down guys in the league.

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Charlie McAvoy – B+

One may look at Charlie McAvoy’s stat-line (seven assists in 26 games) and think that McAvoy hasn’t played up to standards but that is simply not the case. He continues to grow his defensive game and whether it’s on the offensive or defensive side of the puck, he seems to make a game-changing play once a game. Offensively, you’d like to see some more growth from the former 1st-rounder but that will come in time.

Torey Krug – A

Over the past few seasons, Torey Krug has emerged as one of the best offensive defensemen in the league and that narrative has stayed the same throughout this season. Already with 18 points in just 21 games, Krug is well on his way to another big season for the Bs. In just the three games since returning from his injury, Torey Krug has shown how important he is to the Boston Bruins. His vision, puck movement and skating ability is second to few in the league and his five points within those three games show just that. 

Brandon Carlo – A

Many people’s biggest gripe with Brandon Carlo in the past was how little offense he was able to generate. However, the key part of that statement is “in the past.” We’ve seen steady growth in Carlo’s ability to join the rush over the past couple seasons and it’s really paying dividends this season. He’s already over halfway to his career-high of 16 points and with 3/4 of the season to go, he seems primed to break that number.

 

Matt Grzelcyk

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

Matt Grzelcyk – A

I’ve been on the Matt Grzelcyk train for a while and he just continues to improve seemingly every game. The former Boston University captain has been excellent this year, especially when fellow blueliner Torey Krug went down with an injury. In Krug’s absence, Grzelcyk was forced to play bigger minutes while slotting in on the first powerplay and the increased role didn’t phase Grzelcyk at all. in the five games without Krug, Gryz potted two goals (both of which were beauties), four points, and was a +3.

Connor Clifton – B

Connor Clifton has been as sound as a third-pairing defenseman can be. Entering his first season with a full-time role, Clifton hasn’t looked out of place at all. Despite his smaller frame at 5-11, the defenseman isn’t scared to throw his body around. He sits second out of all rookies in hits and has added two goals and a positive rating to begin the season. 

BOSTON, MA - MAY 09: Boston Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer (44) fired up after scoring the 1st goal of the game. During Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals featuring the Boston Bruins against the Carolina Hurricanes on May 09, 2019 at TD Garden in Boston, MA. (Photo by Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

( Photo Credit: Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire Getty Images)

Steven Kampfer – C

There isn’t much to say about Stevie-snipes as he’s only played in three games, but in those three games, he’s looked solid. Kampfer’s possession statistics have actually been great, his Corsi and Fenwick sit at 60.3 and 63.2 respectively. His +1 rating and no points tell most of his story this year, he’s been everything he’s needed to be as a #7 defenseman.

Urho Vaakanainen – C+

Unlike last season where Vaakanainen’s stint was cut short due to an injury, we got to see a bit more of the young defenseman this year. He’s not the type of playing to blow you away but he looked like a better player compared to last season. The Fin is an incredibly fluid skater and his puck skills have continued to grow. While it doesn’t play into this grade, his stat-line since returning to the AHL has been very promising, with three goals and three assists in three games.

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( Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports Images)

Tuukka Rask – A+

The league leader in wins, top three in goals allowed average, top five in save percentage with a save of the year candidate to boot; but Tuukka Rask stinks, right? After failing to capture Lord Stanley the prior season, Tuukka has looked in the zone this season. He’s been one of Boston’s top players in all but a few games, only allowing more than three goals in just three games within his first 16 starts. Say what you want about Rask, but his stats speak for themselves.

Jaroslav Halak – A

Jaroslav Halak simply isn’t a backup goalie; he is the 1B to Tuukka Rask’s 1A. Last season, Halak was able to come in and provide much-needed stability to the Bruins’ net and has continued that through the first quarter of this season. In the ten games, he has appeared in, he’s put up a 6-1-3 record with a .930 save percentage and a 2.35 goals allowed average. 

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