Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins 2018-19 Season Review

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(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 Week 27 Preview

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( Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 27 of the AHL season is upon, and with it brings the final three games of the regular season. The Providence Bruins skate into it 37-25-8-3 (85 points) and 5-3-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is could for fourth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. With just three games remaining in the regular season the baby B’s magic number to clinch the playoffs is just one. This means, clinching the spot is just a formality at this point, and if the standings stay the same it looks like the Bruins would take on the Atlantic Division-leading Charlotte Checkers in the first round. However, before the excitement of the first round is here, we must finish the final three games this weekend.

The hockey action kicks off on Friday, April 12, 2019, when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms invade Providence, Rhode Island to take on the Bruins at the Dunkin Donuts Center. The exciting hockey action continues Saturday, April 13, 2019, as the Providence Bruins head on the road to take on a familiar foe the Springfield Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. Massachusetts. Finally, the regular season wraps up on Sunday, April 14, 2019, when the Springfield Thunderbirds fly into town to take on the baby B’s at the Dunk. It should be an exciting end to the 2018-19 AHL regular season!

Friday, April 12, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (HOME)

The Friday match-up marks the sixth time the Bruins have faced the Phantoms this season. In the first meeting, Lehigh Valley beat Providence 5-4 with the Bruins getting goals from Karson Kuhlman, Cameron Hughes, Colby Cave, and Wiley Sherman. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was off his game stopping 21 of 26 shots in net. The second meeting between the two teams saw a much better result for the Bruins. The Baby B’s beat the Philadelphia Flyers’ affiliate 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Austin Fyten (2), Cameron Hughes (2), Ryan Fitzgerald, and Jordan Szwarz, while goaltender Dan Vladar was good in net stopping 18 of the 21 shots that came his way.

The third match-up was another tough outcome for our boys wearing the spoked P. Lehigh Valley beat Providence 3-1. With Providence getting their lone goal from Joona Koppanen with goaltender Dan Vladar continuing his solid road play stopping 17 of the 19 shots that were fired his way. The fourth battle between the clubs saw the baby B’s win 4-2 getting goals from Gemel Smith (2), Trent Frederic, and Joona Koppanen. Goalie Zane McIntyre was fantastic in net turning away 20 of the 22 shots that were fired his way.  The most recent match-up saw the baby B’s win 5-3 getting goals from Lee Stempniak (2), Zach Senyshyn, Peter Cehlarik, and Gemel Smith. In net, Dan Vladar played well stopping 19 of the 22 shots that were sent his way.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms skate into the game 37-30-4-3 (81 points) and 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. Despite the fact they are on the outside of the playoff picture, this game will not be easy for Providence. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 10-12-2-1 against the Flyers’ affiliate including 5-5-1-1 at home. It should be a tough test for our boys in black and gold. There are a few keys to victory if the baby B’s plan on bucking the trend and beating Lehigh Valley. The first is getting a lead and holding onto it. The Providence club is 29-4-2-2 when leading after the second period, and the Phantoms are 26-1 when leading after two.

Special teams will also play a major key in who wins this game. The Flyers’ affiliate boasts the third-best penalty kill in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference at 85.3%. Meanwhile, the baby B’s power play is ranked sixth in the Atlantic Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference at 17.4% On the flip-side the Bruins have the second-best penalty kill in Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference at 85.7% and the Phantoms have the third-best power play in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference at 19.0%. If our boys in black and gold can keep out of the penalty box, they have a good chance of coming out of the game with two points.

Saturday, April 13, 2019 (AWAY), and Sunday, April 14, 2019 (HOME), Providence vs. Springfield Thunderbirds

The weekend home and home marks the 13th, and the 14th time the Bruins and Thunderbirds have faced off this season. In the first meeting, Springfield beat Providence 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Colby Cave. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre was a little off his game stopping 14 of 20 shots. The second meeting between the two teams saw a different score with the same result. The Florida Panther’s affiliate beat the Baby B’s 4-2 with the Bruins getting goals from now-departed Martin Bakos and Jan Kovar, while current goalie Zane McIntyre looked much better stopping 17 of 20 shots in net.

The third game of the season series saw the Bruins finally break through and get a win beating the Thunderbirds 5-4. The boys in black and gold got goals from Mark McNeill, Karson Kuhlman, Peter Cehlarik, Jordan Szwarz, and Connor Clifton while Dan Vladar stopped 22 of 26 shots he faced. The next installment of the season series did not go according to plan for the spoked P as they fell to the Springfield club 5-3. Bruins got goals from Zach Senyshyn, Gemel Smith, and Jordan Szwarz. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was a little off his game despite facing a barrage of shots stopping 34 of 39 he faced. Part five of the season series was a good one for the boys in black and gold. The Bruins beat the Thunderbirds 4-3 getting goals from Peter Cehlarik (2), Trent Frederic, and Paul Carey. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre continued to play well as he turned away 19 of the 22 shots he faced.

The sixth part in the season series saw the Panthers’ affiliate beat the spoked P 3-2 in overtime. The Baby B’s were able to get goals from Gemel Smith, and Cameron Hughes with Dan Vladar giving a tremendous effort in net stopping 38 of the 41 shots he faced. The seventh showdown saw the boys in black and gold win 2-1 in a shootout getting goals from Karson Kuhlman, and Trent Frederic netted the winning shootout goal. Zane McIntyre was excellent in net turning away 23 of the 24 shots he faced. The eighth throw-down between the two clubs saw the Providence hockey club win 3-2 getting goals from Mark McNeill, Gemel Smith, and Zach Senyshyn. Goalie Zane McIntyre was great in net stopping 22 of 24 shots that came his way.

The ninth meeting saw the Thunderbirds win 5-1 with the Bruins getting their lone goal from Jordan Szwarz. Goalie Zane McIntyre had a rough game in net stopping 21 of 26 shots that were fired his way. The 10th battle between the Providence Bruins and the Springfield Thunderbirds saw the baby B’s fall 4-2 getting goals from Paul Carey and Emil Johansson. Goalie Dan Vladar turned away 28 of the 31 shots that were fired his way. The 11th chapter of the long season series saw the Bruins come out on top 5-2 getting goals from Paul Carey (2), Urho Vaakanainen (2), and Connor Clifton. Goalie Zane McIntyre stopped 27 out of the 29 shots that came his way. The most recent battle saw the Bruins fall 3-1 getting their one goal from Urho Vaakanainen. In net, Zane McIntyre was good turning away 20 of the 23 shots fired his way.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the weekend home and home series 31-28-9-5 (76 points) and 5-3-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference. Despite having a rough season against the Panthers’ affiliate this year, the Baby B’s have played well against them over the past five years going 22-13-3. They also have almost identical records at home and on the road in that time frame. This bodes well for the weekend series. Defense again will play a major role in who wins this game. The Thunderbirds have scored 234 goals in the 73 games they’ve played this season which is 3.20 goals a game their problem is they’ve given up 233 goals in that time frame as well which is 3.19 per game and a goal differential of just one.

Providence’s defense, on the other hand, is quite good giving up only 199 goals in their 73 games which is only 2.72 goals a game. Their offense is no slouch either scoring 219 goals in 73 games which is 3.00 goals a game and a goal differential of 20. The other big key is again who had the lead after two periods. Despite their position in the standings the club from Springfield Massachusetts is 24-1-2 when leading after two periods and 1-25-1-2 when down after two periods. Meanwhile, the Baby B’s are 29-4-2-2 when leading after two and 4-20-3 when trailing after the second period. It should be an exciting game that you do not want to miss.

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

Hot

Paul Carey: Paul Carey has made his way into the hot category once again. It seems like he’s here every other week, but that’s just a testament to how well he’s been playing for Providence since being traded from Ottawa in early January. In 29 games with the baby B’s, the former Boston College Eagle has netted 21 goals while tallying 11 assists for 32 total points. That’s a point per game total of 1.10. That includes netting five goals and dishing out four assists for nine total points in his last five games. The two-time NCAA champion was so good this week he was named the CCM/AHL player of the week. Hopefully, the scoring continues as the playoffs come to a beginning.

Cooper ZechCooper Zech is new to the weekly hot or not list. Signing his first contract the second week of March, the young defenseman came to Providence by way of Ferris State. While a freshman at Ferris State, he led the team in scoring netting eight goals and dishing out 20 assists for 28 total points in 36 games. That’s a point per game clip of 0.78. In 10 games since coming to Providence, the 20-year old has not found the back of the net but has dished out four assists while playing great defense. This includes the nice little three-game point streak that he is currently on. Let’s hope he can continue his play through the end of the season and the playoffs.

Not

Ryan Fitzgerald: At one point during the season, Ryan Fitzgerald was the Providence Bruins’ best forward. You could have made the case that he deserved to be called up to Boston to get a shot with the big club. However, injuries hampered the former Boston College Eagle’s season. In his past nine games, the young forward has netted one goal while also dishing out one assist for two total points. Despite this, the season hasn’t been all bad. In 58 games, the 24-year old has netted nine goals and dished out 26 assists for 35 total points. Hopefully, the gritty forward can pick up his play as we head towards the playoffs.

Mark McNeill: Mark McNeill has been on a bit of a cold streak. The gritty forward started out by having a very good year, but since has dropped off a bit. The WHL product in 54 games, has netted eight goals and dished out 17 assists for 25 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.46. Despite this, in his last 22 games, the veteran has netted one goal and dished out two assists for three total points. This means, before the cold streak he had netted seven goals and dished out 15 assists for 22 points in 32 games. The Providence Bruins are hoping he can find the scoring touch again as we come to the end of the season.

My players to watch this weekend

Up Front

Gemel Smith: Gemel Smith has been excellent since being traded to Boston from Dallas in December. In 44 games with the Providence Bruins, the young forward has netted 15 goals and dished out 21 assists for 36 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.81. As good as the OHL product has been overall, he’s been exceptionally good against Lehigh Valley and Springfield this season. In 13 games against the two hockey clubs this season, Smith has netted six goals and dished out seven assists for 13 total points. This means that 36% of his total points have come against these two teams. Hopefully, the winger can continue that hot play this weekend.

On the Blue Line

Urho VaakanainenDespite missing time because of injuries and the World Junior Championships, Urho Vaakanainen has had an excellent first professional season with the Providence Bruins. In 29 games with the Baby B’s the young defenseman has netted four goals while dishing out 10 assists for 14 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.48. This is much higher than his Finnish Liiga days of 0.21 (7-16-23 in 109 games). To top it off, the rookie has played very well against Springfield. In eight games against the Thunderbirds, he has netted three goals while dishing out five assists for eight total points. This means 57% of his points have come against the Panthers’ affiliate. Hopefully, the young defenseman can carry that play into this weekend.

In Net

Zane McIntyre: Zane McIntyre is another guy that has had an interesting season. On the year, the veteran netminder is 25-12-7 with a goals against average of 2.48, and a save percentage of .901. Mid-season the Providence Bruins went on an impressive point streak, and at the time neither goalie had really solidified himself as the number one guy. McIntyre was able to anchor the backend of the defense and do just that. To top it off, he has been a lot better at home than on the road this season with 20 of his 25 wins coming at the Dunk. With two of three games in Providence this weekend, look for him to be essential in the baby B’s success.

The Providence Bruins are currently sitting in playoff position by four points. With 3 games remaining the team’s magic number is 1. 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 Providence club just needs to at the very least let one of the next three games go to overtime, and they will make the playoffs.

Now, hopefully, they can win a few of these last three games and gain some momentum going into the post-season. Unless the Bruins move up in the standings, it looks their first-round match-up will be against the Division and Conference-leading Charlotte Checkers, a team that the boys in black and gold went 4-3-1 against this season. 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 final three games of the season and Go, B’s, Go!

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 23 Preview

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Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 23 of the AHL season is upon us, and the Providence Bruins skate into it 31-22-7-2 (71 points) and 4-4-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. Even though the baby B’s sit firmly in a playoff spot, they could move up higher in the standings relatively soon. The Providence club sits only three points away from the fifth-place Toronto Marlies. With only 14 games left in the regular season, now is the time for our boys in black and gold to make their push towards the playoffs and climb the standings. This weekend will not be easy, the team embarks on a three-game road trip starting on Friday, March 15, 2019, and it ends on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

The weekend kicks off when the Providence Bruins take their show on the road and invade the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania to take on the home team Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday, March 15, 2019. The trip continues Saturday, March 16, 2019, when the Bruins skate into Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to take on the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. The road trip wraps up on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, when the baby B’s head north to Laval, Quebec, Canada to battle the Laval Rocket at Place Bell. With all three teams being below the Providence club in the standings, it has the potential to be a successful trip for our boys in black and gold.

Friday, March 15, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AWAY)

The Friday match-up marks the fifth time the Bruins have faced the Phantoms this season. In the first meeting, Lehigh Valley beat Providence 5-4 with the Bruins getting goals from Karson Kuhlman, Cameron Hughes, Colby Cave, and Wiley Sherman. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was off his game stopping 21 of 26 shots in net. The second meeting between the two teams saw a much better result for the Bruins. The Baby B’s beat the Philadelphia Flyers’ affiliate 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Austin Fyten (2), Cameron Hughes (2), Ryan Fitzgerald, and Jordan Szwarz, while goaltender Dan Vladar was good in net stopping 18 of the 21 shots that came his way.

The third match-up was another tough outcome for our boys wearing the spoked P. Lehigh Valley beat Providence 3-1. With Providence getting their lone goal from Joona Koppanen with goaltender Dan Vladar continuing his solid road play stopping 17 of the 19 shots that were fired his way. The fourth battle between the clubs saw the baby B’s win 4-2 getting goals from Gemel Smith (2), Trent Frederic, and Joona Koppanen. Goalie Zane McIntyre was fantastic in net turning away 20 of the 22 shots that were fired his way.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms skate into the game 30-26-3-3 (66 points) and 3-7-0 in their last 10 games. This is good for sixth in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. Despite the fact they are on the outside of the playoff picture, this game will not be easy for Providence. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 9-12-2-1 against the Flyers’ affiliate including 4-7-1 on the road. It should be a tough test for our boys in black and gold. There are a few keys to victory if the baby B’s plan on bucking the trend and beating Lehigh Valley. The first is getting a lead and holding onto it. The Providence club is 24-3-2-1 when leading after the second period, and the Phantoms are 21-1 when leading after two.

Special teams will also play a major key in who wins this game. The Flyers’ affiliate boasts the best penalty kill in the Eastern Conference at 86.5%. Meanwhile, the baby B’s power play is ranked 14th in the Eastern Conference at 17.1% On the flip-side the Bruins have the second-best penalty kill in the Eastern Conference at 85.7%, and the Phantoms have the fifth-best power play in the Eastern Conference at 19.1%. If our boys in black and gold can keep out of the penalty box, they have a good chance of coming out of the game with two points.

Saturday, March 16, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins (AWAY)

The Saturday match-up will mark the fifth time that these two teams have played each other, and Providence has had their way with the Pittsburgh affiliate thus far. The first battle saw the Bruins beat the Penguins 2-1 in overtime getting goals from the now departed Martin Bakos, and Ryan Fitzgerald (OT). Goalie Dan Vladar was superb in net denying 27 of the 28 shots that came his way. The second installment saw the Baby B’s route Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 5-2 getting goals from the recently traded Ryan Donato (2), Martin Bakos, Joel Messner, and Zach Senyshyn. Goalie Zane McIntyre was great in net stoning 20 of the 22 shots he faced. The third match-up saw the boys in black and gold win 4-2 getting goals from Ryan Fitzgerald, Peter Cehlarik, Ryan Donato, and Jakub Zboril. Goal Zane McIntyre was excellent in net stopping 32 of the 34 shots that were fired his way. The most recent match-up saw the Bruins lost 2-1 in a shootout getting their goal from Chris Breen. Goalie Zane McIntyre was superb in net turning away 39 of the 40 shots that came his way.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins come into the game 29-23-6-3 (67 points) and 5-2-2-1 in their last 10 games played. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence Bruins have not only played extremely well against the Pittsburgh affiliate this year going 3-0-0-1, but over the past five seasons, the Baby B’s are 13-6-2-3. A major key for the boys in black and gold will be how their offense plays. The Penguins have given up a total of 179 goals on the year. Only four other teams in the Eastern Conference have given up less. Meanwhile, the Bruins have scored 188 goals this year which is the ninth most in the Eastern Conference. Hopefully, the offense is up to that task.

Special teams will also be a key in this game. The Providence Bruins are not only fourth in the Eastern Conference in goals given up with 173, but they are also second in penalty kill at 85.7%. That coupled with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton having the 12th ranked power play in the Eastern Conference at 17.3% means that if the spoked P can play their game and hold their ground, it bodes well for the overall outcome. Another major key for the Pittsburgh affiliate is whether they outshoot their opponent when they do, they are 18-13-2-2 but are 6-8-3-1 when being outshot. On the other side, the Baby B’s are 9-6-3-1 when being outshot and 20-14-4-1 when outshooting their foe.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Laval Rocket (AWAY)

The Wednesday match will mark the second time the Bruins take on Laval this season. The Rocket play in the North Division, so because of that they only play each other twice a year once at home and once on the road. In the first match-up, the Bruins fell 3-2 getting goals from Mark McNeill and Jeremy Lauzon. Goalie Dan Vladar was excellent in net turning away 31 of the 34 shots that were fired his way. The Laval Rocket come into the match-up 25-27-6-4 (60 points) and 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. This is good for seventh in the North Division and 15th in the Eastern Conference. Over the past five seasons, the two teams have not played each other very much because of being in different divisions, but the baby B’s hold a 2-1 record against the Rocket in that time frame.

Special teams will also play a major key in which team comes out on top. The Laval Rocket have the 15th ranked power play in the Eastern Conference at 16.9%. As I have stated earlier the baby B’s boast the second-best penalty kill in the entire Eastern Conference at 85.7%. On the other side of things, the Montreal affiliate has 14th ranked penalty kill at 78.5%. With the Bruins power play being the 14th ranked at 17.1% this would be a great chance to boost those numbers. Something that will be interesting to watch for is who outshoots who. The Providence hockey club is 20-14-4-1 when they outshoot their opponents. However, the Laval club has a better record when being outshot at 13-9-2-3.

Team defense will also play a major key in the matchup. The Bruins boast of the best defenses in the Eastern Conference giving up 2.79 goals a game. Meanwhile, the Montreal affiliate gives up 2.98 goals a game. Laval also has a goal differential of –21. That means they have given up 21 more goals than they’ve scored. The Baby B’s have a goal differential of +15. This game is going to an interesting match-up against two teams that are not familiar with each other. However, all the stats point to the Providence hockey club coming out on top.

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

Hot

Paul Carey: Paul Carey has been a scoring machine since coming over in a trade with the Ottawa Senators. In 21 games with Providence, the former Boston College Eagle has netted 14 goals and dished out six assists for 20 total points. That is a point per game total of 0.95. That includes netting six goals and dishing out two assists for eight total points in his last five games. The two-time NCAA champion has been playing so well that he was called up to Boston. Let’s hope the veteran forward keeps up his scorching hot play up in Boston.

Urho VaakanainenUrho Vaakanainen has been playing very well as of late. The young defenseman missed time earlier in the year due to a concussion, but he’s come back strong and is having a good year. In 28 games this year, the Finland native has found the back of the net four times and dished out 10 assists for 14 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.50. That includes netting four goals and dishing out one assist for five total points in his last five games. So far, it’s been a very successful first professional season for Urho. He made his NHL debut earlier in the year before being injured, he helped lead Finland to the World Junior Gold Medal after he returned from injury, and every part of his game looks NHL ready. Let’s hope the young defender can keep it up going forward.

Not

Ryan Fitzgerald: Ryan Fitzgerald started out the year having a fantastic season and was leading the team in points for a large part of the year. Injuries derailed what was an excellent season. However, in 48 games he has netted seven goals and dished out 24 assists for 31 points. This is a point per game total of 0.64. Despite this, over his past five games, the former Boston College Eagle has not found the back of the net and has dished out two assists for two total points. The veteran forward also has not found the back of the net since December 1, 2019. Part of that is due to injury, but he still has not scored a goal since coming back. With Carey called up to Boston, hopefully, the gritty forward can pick up some of the offense that will be missing.

Zach SenyshynZach Senyshyn has found himself in the not category a few weeks in a row now. That should give you an idea of how cold the streak he’s on is. Even though the young forward may be the most talented of the forward prospects, he cannot seem to buck this cold streak. The OHL product has not scored a goal since January 26, 2019. In his 14 games since then, the speedster has dished out three assists for three total points. Overall on the year, Senyshyn has found the back of the net 13 times and dished out 10 assists for 23 points in 54 games. This is a point per game total of 0.42. The Bruins will need him to bust out of this slump if they plan to go far in the playoffs.

My players to watch this weekend

Up Front

Karson Kuhlman: Karson Kuhlman has had an excellent first professional season for Providence this year. On the year the former University of Minnesota-Duluth Captain has potted 12 goals and dished out 16 assists for 28 total points in 55 games. That is a point per game total of 0.51. He has also recorded a point in three of his last five games for Providence dishing out three assists for three points in that time frame. The young forward has played so well that he earned a call-up to Boston and played well in the five games he played in. The Bruins need the former NCAA Champion to continue his exceptional play on this road-trip to make it a successful one.

On the Blue Line

Jakub ZborilJakub Zboril has had a very good season for the Providence Bruins this season. In 46 games he has found the back of the net four times while dishing out 12 assists for 16 total points. That is a point per game total of 0.34. This is a better scoring pace than last season, while also playing great defense. On top of that, he’s played well against Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre / Scranton this season. In six games against the two teams, he has netted one goal and dished out three assists for four total points. With Connor Clifton getting called up to Boston, the baby B’s will need Zboril to play well on this road-trip.

In Net

Dan VladarDan Vladar has had an up and down season for the Providence Bruins this season. On the year the young goaltender is 9-12-4 with a goal against average of 2.75 and a save percentage of .901. Despite the up and down year, six of his nine wins have come on the road, and both of his shutouts were away from the Dunk. With the next three games coming outside of Providence, Rhode Island I would look for Vladar to have a big road trip.

The Providence Bruins climbed a single spot from eighth in the Eastern Conference to seventh last weekend.  With 14 games left on the Providence hockey club’s magic number is 27. Anytime our boys wearing black and gold win, the magic number is reduced by two points. The magic number is also reduced when the team with the highest possible point total, who also sits outside of the playoff picture fails to record a point. Once the magic number hits zero, your team makes the playoffs. With 28 total points left for the Baby B’s to grab each game is of the utmost importance. Look for the road-trip to be full of some high-intensity hockey. 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 Week 22 Preview

BruinsvsBears

Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 22 of the Providence Bruins season is here and our favorite team in black and gold skate into the weekend 29-21-7-2 (67 points) and 4-4-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, only two points separate them and fifth place in the Conference standings. This weekend’s slate of games could not have come at a better time. The baby B’s have three games at home with two of the games coming against a team that is ahead of them in the standings. A strong week 22 could help the spoked P leapfrog a few teams in the conference as well as give them a nice cushion from teams trying to claw their way back into the playoff seeding.

The action-packed weekend kicks off on Friday, March 8, 2019, when the Hershey Bears invade Providence, Rhode Island to take on the Bruins at the Dunk. The weekend continues Saturday, March 9, 2019, when the same two teams battle it out at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center to find out once and for all which team is the better bear. Finally, the action wraps up on Sunday, March 10, 2019, when familiar adversary the Springfield Thunderbirds swoop into town to take on our boys in black and gold at the Dunk. It is going to be an exciting, jam-packed three days of hockey that you will not want to miss.

Friday, March 8, 2019, (HOME) and Saturday, March 9, 2019, (HOME) Providence Bruins vs. Hershey Bears

The Friday and Saturday games will mark the fourth and fifth times that Providence has played Hershey this season. In the first meeting between the two clubs, the Baby B’s beat the Washington Capitals’ affiliate 6-2 with the Bruins getting goals from Jordan Szwarz (2), Cameron Hughes, Anton Blidh, Kyle Cumiskey, and Tanner Pond while goalie Zane McIntyre looked great in net stopping 19 of 21 shots he faced. The second meeting saw the Providence club win 4-1 getting goals from the now departed Cody Goloubef (2), Karson Kuhlman, and Mark McNeill. Goalie Zane McIntyre was excellent in net turning away 23 of the 24 shots that were fired his way. The third battle saw the Bruins fall 2-1 getting their lone goal from Karson Kuhlman. Goalie Zane McIntyre was still great in net stopping 17 of the 19 shots that were sent his way.

The Hershey Bears skate into the weekend 32-22-1-3 (68 points) and 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. Despite being ahead of the baby B’s in the standings, the Capitals’ affiliate could be the perfect opponent to start a win streak against. Over the past five seasons, Providence is 13-7-2-1 against Hershey going 8-2 at the Dunk in that time frame. With both games being at home this bodes well for our boys in black and gold. There are a few keys to the game that if the spoked P can control, they will likely come out on top in both games.

The first key is who is leading after the first and second periods. Hershey is 18-3-0-2 when they are ahead after the first period of action. They are also 24-1-1-2 when leading after two. Meanwhile, when down after one their records dips to 4-12-0-1 and when trailing after the second it falls even further to 5-19. On the other side, the Providence Bruins are 13-5-3 when ahead after the first period and 23-3-2-1 when they are leading after two. When trailing after one, their record dips to 5-14-2 and when down after two periods it dips even further to 4-17-2. Getting a lead early and holding onto it will be a major key into winning both games.

The other major key to the game will be team defense. The Providence Bruins have one of the best defenses in the entire Eastern Conference ranked third in goals against with 165 in their 59 games played. This means they are giving up 2.79 goals a game. On the other side of things, the Hershey Bears are ranked sixth in the Eastern Conference in goals against with 171 in their 58 games played. This is 2.94 goals given up per game. The big difference is that despite their record, the Capitals’ affiliate has a goal differential of –15. This means they’ve given up 15 more goals than they’ve scored on the season. To give you an idea of just how bad that is the baby B’s differential is +25. A combination of the Bruins’ stingy defense and the Bears’ mediocre offense bodes well for our boys in black and gold this weekend.

Sunday, March 10, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (HOME)

The Sunday match-up marks the 12th time the Bruins and Thunderbirds have faced off this season. In the first meeting, Springfield beat Providence 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Colby Cave. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre was a little off his game stopping 14 of 20 shots. The second meeting between the two teams saw a different score with the same result. The Florida Panther’s affiliate beat the Baby B’s 4-2 with the Bruins getting goals from now-departed Martin Bakos and Jan Kovar, while current goalie Zane McIntyre looked much better stopping 17 of 20 shots in net.

The third game of the season series saw the Bruins finally break through and get a win beating the Thunderbirds 5-4. The boys in black and gold got goals from Mark McNeill, Karson Kuhlman, Peter Cehlarik, Jordan Szwarz, and Connor Clifton while Dan Vladar stopped 22 of 26 shots he faced. The next installment of the season series did not go according to plan for the spoked P as they fell to the Springfield club 5-3. Bruins got goals from Zach Senyshyn, Gemel Smith, and Jordan Szwarz. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was a little off his game despite facing a barrage of shots stopping 34 of 39 he faced. Part five of the season series was a good one for the boys in black and gold. The Bruins beat the Thunderbirds 4-3 getting goals from Peter Cehlarik (2), Trent Frederic, and Paul Carey. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre continued to play well as he turned away 19 of the 22 shots he faced.

The sixth part in the season series saw the Panthers’ affiliate beat the spoked P 3-2 in overtime. The Baby B’s were able to get goals from Gemel Smith, and Cameron Hughes with Dan Vladar giving a tremendous effort in net stopping 38 of the 41 shots he faced. The seventh showdown saw the boys in black and gold win 2-1 in a shootout getting goals from Karson Kuhlman, and Trent Frederic netted the winning shootout goal. Zane McIntyre was excellent in net turning away 23 of the 24 shots he faced. The eighth throw-down between the two clubs saw the Providence hockey club win 3-2 getting goals from Mark McNeill, Gemel Smith, and Zach Senyshyn. Goalie Zane McIntyre was great in net stopping 22 of 24 shots that came his way.

The ninth meeting saw the Thunderbirds win 5-1 with the Bruins getting their lone goal from Jordan Szwarz. Goalie Zane McIntyre had a rough game in net stopping 21 of 26 shots that were fired his way. The 10th battle between the Providence Bruins and the Springfield Thunderbirds saw the baby B’s fall 4-2 getting goals from Paul Carey and Emil Johansson. Goalie Dan Vladar turned away 28 of the 31 shots that were fired his way. The most recent chapter of the long season series saw the Bruins come out on top 5-2 getting goals from Paul Carey (2), Urho Vaakanainen (2), and Connor Clifton. Goalie Zane McIntyre stopped 27 out of the 29 shots that came his way.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the weekend home and home series 24-24-6-5 (59 points) and 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference. Despite having a rough season against the Panthers’ affiliate this year, the Baby B’s have played well against them over the past five years going 22-12-3. They also have almost identical records at home and on the road in that time frame. This bodes well for the weekend series. Defense again will play a major role in who wins this game.

The Thunderbirds have scored 193 goals in the 59 games they’ve played this season which is 3.27 goals a game their problem is they’ve given up 194 goals in that time frame as well which is 3.28 per game. Providence’s defense, on the other hand, is quite good giving up only 2.79 goals a game. Their offense is no slouch either scoring 3.05 goals a game. The other big key is again who had the lead after two periods. Despite their position in the standings the club from Springfield Massachusetts is 19-1-1 when leading after two periods and 0-22-1-2 when down after two periods. Meanwhile, the Baby B’s are 23-3-2-1 when leading after two and 4-17-2 when trailing after the second period. It should be an exciting game that you do not want to miss.

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

Hot

Paul Carey: Paul Carey has been very good for Providence since coming over in a trade with the Senators in January. Since the trade, the former Boston College Eagle has played in 18 games finding the back of the net 11 times and dishing out five assists for 16 total points. This is a point per game clip of 0.88. To top it off the two-time NCAA Champion has six points in his last seven games, netting five goals and dishing out an assist during that time frame. The veteran forward needs to continue his hot play if the Bruins hope to have a good weekend.

Jordan SzwarzJordan Szwarz has been great for Providence this season. The captain has found the back of the net 18 times while dishing 13 assists for 31 total points in the 52 games he’s played in. This is a point per game clip of 0.59. To top it off, recently he has scored five points in his last seven games netting three goals and dishing out two assists in the time frame. The OHL product is just two goals away from 20 on the year. Once he reaches that mark, he will be the fifth player in Providence Bruins history to have 20+ goals in three separate seasons. Be on the lookout for that.

Not

Zach SenyshynZach Senyshyn may be the most talented of all the Bruins forward prospects. Despite this, the young winger has proven to be a streaky player since coming to Providence, and right now he’s on a cold streak that’s as cold as the ice he skates on. The OHL product has netted 13 goals and dished out nine assists for 22 total points in the 51 games he has played in. This is a point per game total of 0.43. This is considerably less than his OHL days of 0.91 (114-63-177 in 195 games played). To top it off, he has scored just two points in his last 11 games dishing out two assists. He has not scored a goal since January 26, 2019. Hopefully, the speedster can find his offensive game and turn the corner this weekend.

Mark McNeill: Mark McNeill has had a good season for Providence overall. In the 46 games that he has played in the gritty forward has found the back of the net seven times while dishing out 16 assists for 24 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.52. Even though the WHL product has been good overall this season, he’s been on a big cold streak recently. He has recorded just two points in his last 14 games dishing out two assists. McNeill hasn’t found the back of the net since January 26, 2019. Hopefully, the veteran forward can turn things around and have a great weekend.

My Players to watch this weekend

Up Front

Gemel Smith: Gemel Smith has been excellent overall for Providence this year. In 31 games since being acquired from Dallas in a trade, the young forward has found the back of the net 12 times while dishing out 16 assists for 28 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.90. To top it off he has been especially good against Springfield and Hershey this season. In 11 games against the two teams this year he has found the back of the net three times and dished out eight assists for 11 total points. That means 39% of the points he has scored with the Bruins have come against this weekend’s opponents. Look for him to have a good week 22.

On the Blue Line

Urho VaakanainenUrho Vaakanainen has had a great first professional season despite missing time due to a concussion. In 25 games with the Providence Bruins, the young defender has found the back of the net two times while dishing out 10 assists for 12 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.48. This is much higher than his Liiga days in Finland of 0.21 (7-16-23 in 109 games played). As well as his offensive game is coming along, the WJC Gold Medalist’s defensive game has been just as impressive. He looks like he’s already NHL ready despite being only 20 years of age. Last weekend the young defenseman scored his first two professional goals. Look for him to continue his play and have a good weekend.

In Net

Zane McIntyre: Zane McIntyre has played well for Providence overall this year. At the turn of the new year, it was his fantastic play in net that helped solidify the backend of the Bruins’ defense. As good as his play has been, the veteran goalie has been better at home this season and been especially good against Hershey. In the three games against the Capitals’ affiliate, the netminder’s stats are 2-1 with a goals against average of 1.68 and a save percentage of .922. With all three games being home and two of them against Hershey, look for him to have a big weekend.

The Providence Bruins come into the weekend clinging to that eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. This weekend is the perfect one to gain some ground and pad their position in the standings. All of the weekend’s games are at home, and on top of that, the Providence club is playing teams they should beat. I would look for the Bruins to nab at least four of six points. This could help them leapfrog a team or two in the standings. Anything else would be a total loss for the weekend. We will catch up with you next week to let you know how the team fared but feel free to send any questions or comments to me on Twitter. I hope everyone enjoys the games this weekend and Go, B’s, Go!

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Could The Bruins Have Matched An Offer On Stone?

(Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Image)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

The prize of the NHL trade deadline has been dealt. Mark Stone ends up in Las Vegas with the Golden Knights. The cost? Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg and a 2020 2nd round pick.

Stone is well-regarded as one of the best two-way wingers in the entire league and is still just 26 years old. This season he has already set a career high in goals (28) and is two points away from his career high of 64. Another major factor about Stone is the fact that, soon after the trade went through, he signed an eight-year extension worth $9.5 million annually.

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The main piece the Senators got in return was 19-year-old defenseman Erik Brannstrom. Brannstrom was drafted 15th overall in 2017 and is widely considered as an A+ level prospect. The general consensus during “TSN Tradecentre” was that Brannstrom is easily a top-ten prospect in the league right now.

The young Swede has played well in his first season in North America, totaling 28 points in 41 games in the AHL as a D-man. The year prior, he posted 15 points in 44 games playing as a kid against men in the SHL. Brannstrom has also had a lot of international success. Last year, he was paired with phenom Rasmus Dahlin on Sweden’s World Junior team and was a big reason why the team got to the finals. This past World Juniors, he led the Swedes in goals with four. While the comparisons to Erik Karlsson may be a bit far-fetched, there’s no question Brannstrom will develop into a great NHLer when the time comes.

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 24: Oscar Lindberg #24 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the game at T-Mobile Arena on October 24, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

The only other player Vegas gave up was forward Oscar Lindberg. Lindberg hasn’t quite replicated his successful rookie season with the New York Rangers where he tallied 13 goals and 28 points in 68 games but has been a reliable two-way forward since then. At 27, he still has time to grow into a better player.

A lot of Bruins’ fans were salivating at the potential of Stone being in the black and gold, and there’s no doubting he would be a perfect fit for Boston, but the biggest problem was clearly the price. Seeing what Stone was able to get in return, what would be a similar return from the Bruins?

Despite having a great farm system, the Bruins don’t tout an A+ prospect like Brannstrom. The closest player to would be fellow 2017 1st rounder, Urho Vaakanainen. While Vaakanainen doesn’t have the offensive pedigree that Erik has, he is still a highly touted two-way defenseman with a ton of upside.

(Photo Courtesy of NBCSports)

When Vaakanainen was drafted, Jamie Langenbrunner, Boston’s player development coordinator, had a lot to say about the young Fin. “I think Scott mentioned to me … which I thought was high praise for a guy that could effortlessly skate around the rink,” Langenbrunner said. “[Vaakanainen] seems to have a little bit of those tendencies that he kind of floats on his skates a little bit, and it’s something that I don’t believe you can really teach.” Any comparison to a Hall-of-Famer is a good thing.

The Bruins clearly think highly of the 20-year-old. When the Bruins D-core was riddled with injuries, the Bruins decided to call up Vaakainanen despite being just 19 at the time and within his first season in North America. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of the defenseman as he suffered a concussion in just his second game in the NHL. When healthy. Vaakanainen went on to win the gold medal in this year’s World Juniors, tallying four assists in seven games with a +5 rating for team Finland.

Since Vaakanainen isn’t quite the player that Brannstrom projects to be, you’d think a pick would need to be added to even out their hypothetical values there. Maybe exchanging the 2nd rounder that Vegas gave up for a 1st and adding a lower pick, let’s say a 4th.

Boston Bruins v Anaheim Ducks

(Photo Courtesy Of CBS Boston – CBS Local)

So at this point, the deal is Stone for Vaakanainen, a 1st round pick, and a 4th round pick. I’m sure Ottawa wanted a roster player in return, preferably a younger player with a bit of room to grow (just as Oscar Lindberg was), so maybe a guy like Peter Cehlarik would also go the other way.

Cehlarik, 23, is a smart player with a great work ethic; however, he doesn’t have a massive ceiling. With that said, he has shown quite a bit of promise throughout his brief stint in the NHL. This season, he has four goals and six points in his 14 games with Boston.

So would a realistic offer for Mark Stone be Urho Vaakanainen, a 2020 1st, 2019 4th, and Peter Cehlarik? I’d say it’s pretty similar in value to what Vegas gave up, but I’m not sure either team would end up doing it. According to @BruinsNetwork on twitter, it was what Vegas offered, not what the Bruins didn’t in regards to Stone so maybe he was destined to never be a Bruin.

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 19 Preview

PBruinsvSpringfield

Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 19 of the Providence Bruins season is upon us, and our favorite AHL team has a jam-packed weekend ahead. The spoked P comes into the game 26-17-6-1 (59 points) and 8-1-0-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. This past weekend the boys in black and gold saw their 12-point streak come to an end, but they followed that up with an impressive shutout against the Syracuse Crunch. Hopefully, that is the start of another long point streak. Let’s get into what is on tap for the Baby B’s this weekend.

The Bruins have a weekend full of home cooking ahead. It all starts out on Friday, February 15, 2019, when the Toronto Marlies come into town for their only game at the Dunk this year. The weekend action continues Saturday, February 16, 2019, when the Charlotte Checkers come to town to finish up the season series between the two clubs. Finally, the Dunkin Donuts Center is sure to be rocking on Sunday, February 16, 2019, when familiar foe the Springfield Thunderbirds make their way to Providence. It’s going to be a great weekend of fast-paced, exciting hockey that you do not want to miss.

Friday, February 15, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Toronto Marlies (HOME)

The Friday match-up marks the second meeting between the two hockey clubs this season. The Marlies are in the North Division, so because of that the Baby B’s only play them twice during the year. Once at home and once on the road. The first meeting between the two clubs saw the Bruins blank the Maple Leafs’ affiliate 5-0 getting goals from Jordan Szwarz, Zach Senyshyn (2), Karson Kuhlman, and Anders Bjork. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre was excellent in net turning away all 35 shots he faced. Over the past five seasons, our boys in black and gold have had some good success against the Toronto hockey club with a record of 4-2-1 overall and 2-1 at home. This bodes well for the spoked P on Friday night.

The Toronto Marlies come into the game 25-17-5-3 (58 points) and 5-2-2-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the North Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. There are going to be a few major keys to this game. The first thing is playing total team defense. Like the Bruins’ last opponent, the Syracuse Crunch the Toronto hockey club scores goals, a lot of goals. In their 50 games played they’ve scored 176 goals. That’s a whopping 3.52 goals a game. Now the reason why total team defense is going to be key for the Baby B’s is that the Maple Leafs’ affiliate has eight players with a point per game total of 0.58 or higher. This means you have shut down more than just one line. Luckily for the Boston affiliate, they have excellent team defense giving up 137 goals in 50 games which 2.74 goals a game.

Another major key to the game will be special teams. The Toronto Marlies boast the top-ranked power play in the North Division and the second-ranked in the entire Eastern Conference at 23%. Meanwhile, the Providence Bruins are equipped with the second-ranked penalty kill in the Atlantic Division as well as the entire Eastern Conference. This plays back into the first key I touched on which was team defense being essential to shutting down the Toronto Squad. Finally, it’s imperative that the Baby B’s have a lead when the second period ends. When leading after two, the spoked P is 20-3-2-1, and the Toronto affiliate is 18-0-1-1. Being on the right side of these battles Friday night will almost guarantee a victory for the boys in black and gold.

Saturday, February 16, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Charlotte Checkers (HOME) 

The Saturday match-up will mark the eighth time these two teams have faced each other, and things haven’t gone the Providence club’s way. 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 six games of the season series, The Bruins beat the Checkers 2-1 in overtime getting goals from Ryan Donato, and Cameron Hughes (OT GW). Goalie Zane McIntyre was superb in net stopping 28 of the 29 shots he faced. The last 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 Charlotte Checkers come into the game 32-13-6-1 (71 points) and 2-4-3-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for first in the Atlantic Division as well as the Eastern Conference. The Baby B’s have had success against Charlotte not only this year but over the past five seasons. This year the spoked P is 4-2-1 against the Carolina affiliate and 6-4-1 over the past five seasons. Some major keys to this match-up are scoring early and keeping that lead. The Checkers are 16-3-1-1 when leading after the first period and 21-0-0-0 when leading after two periods. Meanwhile, our boys in black and gold are 12-5-2 when leading after one period and 20-3-2-1 when leading after two periods. Another major key is out-shooting the opponent. Both teams have great records when out-shooting the team they’re playing the Providence hockey club is 17-11-3-1 meanwhile the Charlotte team is 15-9-4-1. The season series between the two teams has been grueling, and the final game of the series will be nothing short of that.

Sunday, February 17, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (HOME) 

This game mark the ninth time the Bruins and Thunderbirds have faced off this season. In the first meeting, Springfield beat Providence 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Colby Cave. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre was a little off his game stopping 14 of 20 shots. The second meeting between the two teams saw a different score with the same result. The Florida Panther’s affiliate beat the Baby B’s 4-2 with the Bruins getting goals from now-departed Martin Bakos and Jan Kovar, while current goalie Zane McIntyre looked much better stopping 17 of 20 shots in net.

The third game of the season series saw the Bruins finally break through and get a win beating the Thunderbirds 5-4. The boys in black and gold got goals from Mark McNeill, Karson Kuhlman, Peter Cehlarik, Jordan Szwarz, and Connor Clifton while Dan Vladar stopped 22 of 26 shots he faced. The next installment of the season series did not go according to plan for the spoked P as they fell to the Springfield club 5-3. Bruins got goals from Zach Senyshyn, Gemel Smith, and Jordan Szwarz. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was a little off his game despite facing a barrage of shots stopping 34 of 39 he faced. Part five of the season series was a good one for the boys in black and gold. The Bruins beat the Thunderbirds 4-3 getting goals from Peter Cehlarik (2), Trent Frederic, and Paul Carey. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre continued to play well as he turned away 19 of the 22 shots he faced.

The sixth part in the season series saw the Panthers’ affiliate beat the spoked P 3-2 in overtime. The Baby B’s were able to get goals from Gemel Smith, and Cameron Hughes with Dan Vladar giving a tremendous effort in net stopping 38 of the 41 shots he faced. The seventh showdown saw the boys in black and gold win 2-1 in a shootout getting goals from Karson Kuhlman, and Trent Frederic netted the winning shootout goal. Zane McIntyre was excellent in net turning away 23 of the 24 shots he faced. The most recent throw-down between the two clubs saw the Providence hockey club win 3-2 getting goals from Mark McNeill, Gemel Smith, and Zach Senyshyn. Goalie Zane McIntyre was great in net stopping 22 of 24 shots that came his way.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 21-20-6-4 (52 points) and 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference. The Baby B’s have had a good amount of success against the Panthers’ affiliate over the past five years with a record of 21-10-3 and 4-3-1 this season. Defense again will play a major role in who wins this game. The Thunderbirds have scored 170 goals in the 50 games they’ve played this season which is 3.33 goals a game their problem is they’ve given up 171 goals in that time frame as well which is 3.35 per game. As I stated earlier the preview, Providence’s defense is quite good giving up only 2.74 goals a game. Their offense is no slouch either scoring 3.30 goals a game. The other big key is again who had the lead after two periods. Despite their position in the standings the club from Springfield Massachusetts is 16-1-1 when leading after two periods and 0-18-1-1 when down after two periods. It should be an exciting game to end the jam-packed hockey weekend.

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

Hot

Zane McIntyre: The recent point streak the Providence Bruins went on, and their climb in the standings was in large part thanks to McIntyre. The University of North Dakota alum has been excellent recently. Over his past 11 games, the veteran net-minder is 11-0-0 turning away 241 of the 260 shots that came his way for a save percentage of .927 and goals against average of 1.70. It cannot be overstated how he has played recently. It seems like he took the quote “new year, new me” to heart and really turned around not only his season but the Baby B’s season as well.

Gemel Smith: Gemel Smith has been nothing short of excellent since coming over to Providence. The gritty forward was acquired from Dallas in December and after three games with the big club in Boston, was sent down to Providence. Since then the OHL product has played in 22 games for the Baby B’s netting nine goals while dishing out 12 assists for 21 total points. That is a point per game total of 0.95 which is higher than his OHL days of 0.77 (89-114-203 in 264 games played). To top all of that off, he has registered a point in six of his last seven games in which he has found the back of the net three times and tallied six assists for nine total points.

Not

Kyle Cumiskey: Cumiskey has been pretty good for Providence since joining the team. However, the veteran defenseman is on a bit of a cold streak. The WHL product has only registered a point in one of his last six games dishing out two assists in that time frame. He also hasn’t found the back of the net since December 15, 2018. Despite the cold streak, he still is scoring at a point per game clip of 0.55 (3-13-16 in 29 games). This is higher than his AHL career of 0.48 (25-97-122 in 253 games played) as well as his WHL career of 0.45 (12-67-79 in 177 games played).

Mark McNeill: Mark McNeill has proven to be streaky for Providence this season. On the year he does have stats of 7-15-22 in 37 games played. This is a point per game total of 0.59. This is slightly higher than his AHL career of 0.57 (96-119-215 in 380 games played) and lower than his WHL days of 0.88 (97-146-243 in 276 games played). Despite this, the gritty forward has only registered one point in his last six games. The Baby B’s offense has still been clicking recently; however, with Kuhlman getting called up to Boston, Providence will need someone to pick up the mantle in the scoring department. McNeill could help do that.

My players to watch this weekend

Up Front

Jordan SzwarzSzwarz has had a good season for Providence this year. The Baby B’s Captain has netted 15 goals while dishing 11 assists for 26 total points in 43 games played. This is a point per game total of 0.60. This is right on par with his AHL career of 0.59 (105-135-240 in 407 games played), but lower than his OHL days of 0.78 (82-122-204 in 262 games played). On top of that, the gritty forward has been especially good against Charlotte, Springfield, and Toronto this season. In 15 games against those teams this season he has found the back of the net six times while dishing out four assists good for ten points against them this year. That means 38% of his points have come against these three teams. Look for the Captain to have a big weekend.

On the Blue Line

Urho VaakanainenUrho Vaakanainen has been good in limited time for Providence this season. The young defenseman has only played in 16 games with the Baby B’s because earlier in the year he was called up to Boston and in his second game with the big club, he got an elbow to the head leaving him concussed. After recovering from the injury, he then played for Finland in the World Junior Championships where he helped lead his team to the gold medal. Not only has he played well since returning to the spoked P, but three of his eight assists on the season have come in the four games against Springfield he’s played this season. Look for the future star to have a good weekend.

In Net

Zane McIntyre: I know it was stated earlier in the preview how good Zane has been for Providence, but he’s been so good that the numbers bear repeating. He was won his last 11 games that he’s played in while stoning 241 of 260 shots faced in that time frame. That’s good for a save percentage of .927 and goals against average of 1.70. He has also been especially good at home this season. With all three of the weekend games being played at the Dunk look for the veteran net-minder to continue his scorching hot play.

The Providence Bruins had their 12-game point streak snapped last Saturday night. However, they followed that up by shutting out one of the best offenses in the AHL the very next day when they beat Syracuse. That shows the heart of this team. It is very easy after losing a long point streak to let things snowball in the wrong direction. Instead of letting that happen, the Baby B’s had one of their best games of the season right after. The three games the boys in black and gold play this weekend are winnable. The toughest one coming Saturday when they take on Charlotte. I would expect the Bruins to secure at least four points this weekend continuing their hot play. 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 Week 16 Preview

babybs

Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins Flickr

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Heading into week 16 the Providence Bruins currently sit at 20-16-6-1 (47 points) and 6-2-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. For the second weekend in a row, the Baby B’s managed to grab five of six possible points and are currently riding a seven-game point streak which has seen them go 5-0-1-1. This has catapulted them to the brink of a playoff spot. After a grueling five straight weeks of three-game weekends, the spoked P has a little bit of a reprieve having only two games this weekend.

The action kicks off on Friday, January 25, 2019, when the Eastern Conference-leading Charlotte Checkers roll into town to invade the Dunk. The weekend wraps up on Saturday, January 26, 2019, when a familiar foe, the Springfield Thunderbirds swoop in to play at the Dunk. It should be a great weekend of hockey for all involved and these are two games you do not want to miss.

szwarzcheckers

Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins Flickr

Friday, January 25, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Charlotte Checkers (HOME)

The Friday evening match-up will mark the fifth time these two teams have faced each other, and things haven’t gone the Providence club’s way. 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. Most recently 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 Charlotte Checkers come into the Friday game 30-10-4 (64 points) good for first in the Atlantic Division as well as the entire Eastern Conference. Formerly, the Albany River Rats, the Checkers have seemingly had the Baby B’s number since moving to Charlotte in 2010. Over the past five seasons, they have a record of 5-2-0-1 against Providence. Something that does bode well for the Baby B’s is they do have a winning record against the Hurricanes’ affiliate in that time frame at 2-1-1.

As with most match-ups, special teams will play a big part of who wins this game. The spoked P holds the advantage in not only power play 19.8% to 18.4% but also in the penalty kill 86.1% to 84.3%. Another key to this game is who is leading after two periods. When leading after two periods the Checkers are 19-0 but losing after the second period, they are 3-6-3. On the other side, Providence is 16-3-2-1 when leading after the second period and 3-13-2 when trailing after two.

Despite the large win differential, and the lack of recent success against Charlotte the Baby B’s have a good chance of winning this game. Their goals for and goals against stats look similar at 149 goals for and 125 goals against for the Checkers and 139 goals for and 126 against for the boys in black and gold. Look for a close battle this weekend.

Saturday, January 26, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (HOME)

This game marks the eighth time the Bruins and Thunderbirds have faced off this season. In the first meeting, Springfield beat Providence 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Colby Cave. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre was a little off his game stopping 14 of 20 shots. The second meeting between the two teams saw a different score with the same result. The Florida Panther’s affiliate beat the Baby B’s 4-2 with the Bruins getting goals from now-departed Martin Bakos and Jan Kovar, while current goalie Zane McIntyre looked much better stopping 17 of 20 shots in net.

The third game of the season series saw the Bruins finally break through and get a win beating the Thunderbirds 5-4. The boys in black and gold got goals from Mark McNeill, Karson Kuhlman, Peter Cehlarik, Jordan Szwarz, and Connor Clifton while Dan Vladar stopped 22 of 26 shots he faced. The next installment of the season series did not go according to plan for the spoked P as they fell to the Springfield club 5-3. Bruins got goals from Zach Senyshyn, Gemel Smith, and Jordan Szwarz. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was a little off his game despite facing a barrage of shots stopping 34 of 39 he faced.

Part five of the season series was a good one for the boys in black and gold. The Bruins beat the Thunderbirds 4-3 getting goals from Peter Cehlarik (2), Trent Frederic, and Paul Carey. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre continued to play well as he turned away 19 of the 22 shots he faced. The sixth part in the season series saw the Panthers’ affiliate beat the spoked P 3-2 in overtime. The Baby B’s were able to get goals from Gemel Smith, and Cameron Hughes with Dan Vladar giving a tremendous effort in net stopping 38 of the 41 shots he faced. The most recent showdown saw the boys in black and gold win 2-1 in a shootout getting goals from Karson Kuhlman, and Trent Frederic netted the winning shootout goal. Zane McIntyre was excellent in net turning away 23 of the 24 shots he faced.

The Springfield hockey club comes into this eighth meeting with a record of 20-14-6-4 (50 points) and 5-2-2-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division as well as fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Thunderbirds seem to have the Bruins’ number this year going 4-2-0-1 against our boys thus far. Something that bodes well for the Baby B’s though, is that they are 10-4-1 against the Panthers’ affiliate in the last five seasons at home and 20-10-3 overall.

Major keys to the game will be whether the game is close or not. In one-goal games, the Baby B’s are 8-8-6-1. Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds are 5-6-6-4 under the same scenario. In two-goal games, the Bruins are 2-4 and their Atlantic Division foe is 5-3. Finally, in three-goal games the spoked P is 6-4 and Springfield is 5-3. Another key will be who is winning after the second period. As I said earlier the Boston Bruins’ top affiliate is 16-3-2-1 when leading after two. On the other side of the bench, the Panthers’ affiliate is 15-0-1. Whoever can jump out to an early multiple-goal lead stands a fantastic chance of coming away with two points Saturday night.

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

Hot

Paul Carey: Carey was traded to Boston from Ottawa in a minor trade back on January 11, 2019. Since being traded for, the former Boston College Eagle and two-time NCAA Champion has been excellent for Providence. In five games for the Baby B’s he has netted four goals and dished out two assists for six total points. Combine this with what the gritty forward did for the Belleville Senators in 34 total AHL games he has stats of 9-24-33 this is a point per game total of 0.97 which is much higher than his AHL career total of 0.67 (88-127-215 in 321 games played), and higher than his NCAA total of 0.59 (45-41-86 in 147 games played).

Karson Kuhlman: Kuhlman has quietly put together a really nice first full season with Providence. The former University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs’ Captain and NCAA champion has been excellent recently for the Baby B’s. The young forward has scored a point in 11 of his last 13 games with stats of 6-7-13 in that time frame. This superb play has pushed his season totals to 9-13-22. This is a point per game total of 0.51 which is higher than his NCAA total of 0.48 (39-41-80 in 166 games played.)

Not

Cameron Hughes: The young forward has seemed to run into a bit of a dry spell lately. The former University of Wisconsin Captain has found the score sheet just once in his past five games netting a goal against Springfield on January 13, 2019. This cold streak could be attributed to the fact that it’s the young forward’s first full season in Providence and sometimes it takes players times to adjust to the pro game. Still, he has a point per game total of 0.56 (10-14-24 in 43 games) which is relatively close to his college days of 0.66 (23-69-92 in 139 games played).

Joona KoppanenThe young forward was called up to Providence from ECHL Atlanta back in November. Since being called up to Providence he has played in 19 games finding the back of the net two times for two total points. The Finland native has not registered a point since January 4th, 2019. It is worth noting that he is only 20 years old, and this is his first full professional season in North America. It can take time adjusting to the different styles of play from the North American pro game to International play. The World Junior Cup Gold Medalist has a point per game total of 0.10 (2-0-2 in 19 games) which is significantly less than his Liiga days in Finland of 0.31 (2-12-14 in 45 games played).

My players to watch this weekend

Up Front

Jordan SzwarzThe Providence Bruins Captain has been great for the team this season. He’s netted 14 goals and dished out 9 assists for 23 total points. Szwarz has been especially good against Charlotte and Springfield this season. In 10 games against the two teams this year he has stats of 5-3-8. This is a point per game total of 0.80. Remember, the 6 goals away from 20 on the year. Once he hits the 20-goal milestone, he will be the fifth player in Providence Bruins history with 20+ goals in three different seasons for the club. Also, a big congratulations to the Ontario native for playing in his 400th career AHL game over the weekend.

On the Blue Line

Urho VaakanainenI know this is a repeat of last week, but I really do not want his play to go unnoticed. The young defenseman has been excellent in six games since returning to the Providence lineup. In those six games, he has dished out five assists for five points while playing excellent defense for the Baby B’s. Vaakanainen is easily my favorite prospect that the Boston Bruins currently have. Look for him to have another big weekend as three of his seven points this season have come against Springfield.

In Net

Zane McIntyre: Like Vaakanainen I know this is a repeat, but again I cannot let the play of McIntyre go unnoticed. The veteran goalie is a huge reason why the Bruins have gone on a seven-game point streak. In his last six games, Zane is 6-0-0 turning away 115 of the 127 shots he has faced for a .905 save percentage and goals against average of 1.97. His play has solidified not only the goalie position for Providence but also the back end of the defense.

For the second weekend in a row, the Providence Bruins were able to grab five of a possible six points. This has catapulted them to the brink of a playoff spot. While, both games this weekend will tough, with how the Baby B’s are playing, I have the utmost faith that this team will grab at the very least two points this weekend. However, do not be surprised to see them snatch up all four points as they continue their climb up the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference Standings. 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!

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

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 15 Preview

pbruins1

Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr

By Tim Richardson| Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Heading into week 15 the Providence Bruins currently sit at 18-16-6 (42 points) and 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for sixth in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. Despite being just out of the playoff picture, the Bruins managed to grab five out of six points last weekend and remain only four being behind fourth place in the Eastern Conference. This weekend, the Baby B’s have another full docket of games as it’s the fourth week in a row that they have a three-game weekend.  

It all kicks off on Friday, January 18, 2019, when the Thunderbirds of Springfield invade the Dunk. Next up, the spoked P takes the show on the road on Saturday, January 19, 2019, when they travel to Bridgeport, Connecticut to take on the home team Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena. Finally, the Baby B’s wrap up the weekend enjoying some home cooking on Sunday, January 20, 2019, when they play host to the Hartford Wolf Pack at the Dunk. It’s going to be an exciting hockey filled weekend that you don’t want to miss.  

Friday, January 18, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (HOME) 

This game mark the seventh time the Bruins and Thunderbirds have faced off this season. In the first meeting, Springfield beat Providence 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Colby Cave. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre was a little off his game stopping 14 of 20 shots. The second meeting between the two teams saw a different score with the same result. The Florida Panther’s affiliate beat the Baby B’s 4-2 with the Bruins getting goals from now-departed Martin Bakos and Jan Kovar, while current goalie Zane McIntyre looked much better stopping 17 of 20 shots in net. 

The third game of the season series saw the Bruins finally break through and get a win beating the Thunderbirds 5-4. The boys in black and gold got goals from Mark McNeill, Karson Kuhlman, Peter Cehlarik, Jordan Szwarz, and Connor Clifton while Dan Vladar stopped 22 of 26 shots he faced. The next installment of the season series did not go according to plan for the spoked P as they fell to the Springfield club 5-3. Bruins got goals from Zach Senyshyn, Gemel Smith, and Jordan Szwarz. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was a little off his game despite facing a barrage of shots stopping 34 of 39 he faced.   

Part five of the season series was a good one for the boys in black and gold. The Bruins beat the Thunderbirds 4-3 getting goals from Peter Cehlarik (2), Trent Frederic, and Paul Carey. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre continued to play well as he turned away 19 of the 22 shots he faced. The most recent battle saw the Panthers’ affiliate beat the spoked P 3-2 in overtime. The Baby B’s were able to get goals from Gemel Smith, and Cameron Hughes with Dan Vladar giving a tremendous effort in net stopping 38 of the 41 shots he faced.  

The Springfield hockey club comes into the seventh game of the season series with a record of 18-14-5-3 (44 points) and 3-4-3 in their last 10 games good for third in the Atlantic division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Thunderbirds seem to have the Bruins’ number this year going 4-2 against our boys thus far. Something that bodes well for the Baby B’s though is they are 9-4-1 against the Panthers’ affiliate in the last five seasons at home and 19-10-3 overall.  

Something that has been a major key for the Springfield Thunderbirds this year is balanced scoring. They have eight players with at least 22 points on the season and are second in the Eastern Conference in goals for with 139. Shutting down the high-powered offense of Springfield is going to be huge for Providence. Something that plays into the Baby B’s favor is that they are tied for fifth in the entire Eastern Conference in goals against this season with 119. On top of that, the boys in black and gold have gotten some key defenders back in the lineup. This should make for a great game this weekend. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AWAY) 

Saturday’s game marks the seventh time that these two teams have met, and all the games have been closely contented games with four of the six games going to overtime. The first game of the season series saw the Sound Tigers beat the Bruins 4-3 in overtime with the spoked P getting goals from the recently departed Colby Cave (2), and Jakub Zboril with goalie Dan Vladar playing well turning away 30 of 34 shots he faced. The next meeting saw the Providence club win 5-2 getting goals from Cameron Hughes, Colby Cave, Trent Frederic (2), and the now departed Jan Kovar. Goalie Zane McIntyre looked good in net stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced.  

The third meeting between the two clubs saw Providence breakout offensively winning 6-1 getting goals from Cameron Hughes (3), Zach Senyshyn (2), and Trent Frederic. In net, Dan Vladar was superb stopping 28 of the 29 shots fired his way. The next three meetings the Eastern Conference foes would play ended up going to overtime. The first of those ended up going the Sound Tigers’ way 5-4 with the Bruins getting goals from Jan Kovar, Anton Blidh, Jakub Zboril, and Ryan Donato. Zane McIntyre was in net for the contest, and he was a little off his game stopping 20 of the 25 shots that were fired his way.  

The next meeting between the two teams had the puck bounce the Bruins way as they won 2-1 in overtime getting goals from Wiley Sherman, and Ryan Fitzgerald (OT GW). Goalie Dan Vladar was excellent in net stopping 29 of the 30 shots he faced. Most recently, the Baby B’s fell in overtime 4-3 getting goals from Anton Blidh, Peter Cehlarik, and Kyle Cumiskey with goalie Dan Vladar stopping 13 of 17 shots he faced. It’s been a crazy season series thus far, and I would look for it to continue that way.  

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers come into the game 22-14-4-2 (50 points) and 4-5-0-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and second in the entire Eastern Conference. This game will be especially tough for Providence because, despite their 23-16-5-2 record overall in the past five seasons against Bridgeport, the Baby B’s are only 8-10-3-2 in Bridgeport during that time. A major key to winning this game will be special teams.  

The boys in black and gold boast the fifth best power play in the entire Eastern Conference at 20.6%, meanwhile, the Sound Tigers’ penalty kill is ranked ninth in the Eastern Conference at 80.4%. On the flip-side, the spoked P also has the second-best penalty kill in the entire Eastern Conference at 85.1% with the New York Islanders’ affiliate having just the 10th ranked power play in the Eastern Conference at 18.6%. Winning this match-up will go a long way to winning the game.  

Monday, January 21, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (HOME) 

The Monday game marks the eighth time the two teams have faced off this season. The first match-up saw the Wolf Pack beat the Bruins 4-2 with Providence getting goals from Austin Fyten and Mark McNeill while goalie Zane McIntyre was pulled in the first period after stopping 7 of 10 shots faced. Dan Vladar finished the game turning away all 8 shots he would see. The second meeting between the two teams saw a better result with Providence winning 4-3 in overtime. The Baby B’s got goals from Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic, and Cody Goloubef (OT GW), and goalie Zane McIntyre looked much better stopping 15 of 18 shots faced. 

The third leg of the season series saw the Pack come out victorious, winning 4-3. The Providence club got goals from Zach Senyshyn, Colby Cave, and Anton Blidh. Goalie Dan Vladar had a busy game stopping 26 of 30 he faced. In game four these two clubs both fought hard, but Hartford came out on top 4-3 in overtime. The boys wearing the spoked P got goals from Karson Kuhlman, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Kyle Cumiskey. Goalie Zane McIntyre turned away 18 of 22 shots faced in the losing effort. In the fifth meeting this year the New York Rangers’ affiliated blanked Providence 3-0. Goalie Dan Vladar played well in the game stopping 30 of 33 shots faced.  

More recently, the sixth meeting of the year could not have gone better for the spoked P, winning the game 5-1. The Bruins got goals from Peter Cehlarik (2), Emil Johansson, Gemel Smith, and Jordan Szwarz. Goalie Zane McIntyre looked excellent in net stopping 15 of 16 shots he faced. The two teams latest battle saw the Baby B’s score in bunches winning 6-3 getting goals from Peter Cehlarik, Jordan Szwarz, Karson Kuhlman, Anton Blidh, Mark McNeill, and Chris Breen. Zane McIntyre was up to the challenge in net for Providence stopping 15 of 18 shots he faced.  

The Hartford Wolf Pack come into the Sunday match-up 18-17-2-2 (40 points) and 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club has enjoyed some success at home against the Rangers’ affiliate over the past five seasons going 13-4-1-1 and 20-13-4-2 overall. Getting a lead early on, and keeping it is going to play a major factor in this game. The Bruins are 10-5-2 when leading after one period, and 14-3-2 when leading after two periods. At the other end, the Wolf Pack are 9-2 when leading after one period and 12-2-1-2 when leading after two periods. If our boys in black and gold can grab a lead early and hold onto it, they stand a fantastic shot at coming out of this game with two points.  

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

Hot 

Peter CehlarikCehlarik has been nothing short of spectacular for the Bruins lately. In his last four games with the Baby B’s, he has netted five goals while dishing out two assists for seven total points. This includes two separate two-goal games. So far this season in the AHL, the Swedish Hockey League product has potted 10 goals while helping with 19 assists for 29 total points in 37 games played. This is good for a 0.78 point per game clip. This is higher than his career AHL point per game clip of 0.74 (41-49-90 in 121 games played) and much higher than his SHL clip of 0.37 (22-27-49 in 132 games played). The young forward was playing so well he earned a call up to Boston this week and even scored two goals in his first game with the big club this year.  

Zane McIntyre: The veteran goaltender has been great for Providence recently. McIntyre has won his last four games played for the Baby B’s going 4-0-0. In doing so, he’s turned away 69 of the 78 shots that he’s faced for a .884 save percentage and goals against average of 2.25. Despite some drastic home and road splits this season, he has been a rock for the boys wearing the spoked P thus far and has been a big reason why they’ve begun to climb to standings in the Eastern Conference.  

Not 

Jeremy Lauzon: Lauzon has had an up and down year for the Baby B’s. When he was sent back down to Providence from Boston, the big club wanted the young defenseman to work on his shot and play-making ability. He has only found the stat sheet once over his past four games dishing out one assist for one total point. Despite this, so far this season he’s played 20 games in the AHL he’s found the back of the net once and dished out five assists for six total points. This is a point per game clip of 0.30 which is higher than his AHL career total of 0.18 (2-11-13 in 72 games), but still much lower than his OMJHL days of 0.65 points per game (35-95-130 in 200 games).  

Dan VladarThe young net-minder has had a rough go of it as of late. Over his last four games, he has a record of 1-2-1 turning away 111 shots of the 128 he has faced for a save percentage of .888 and goals against average of 3.49. Hopefully, Vladar can pick up his play the rest of the year. If the Bruins want to win and find themselves in the playoffs, they’re going to need both goalies to be on top of their game.  

My players to watch this weekend 

Up Front 

Cameron Hughes: Hughes has been very good for Providence this year and especially so against Springfield, Bridgeport, and Hartford. On the season, 11 of the young forward’s 24 points have come in the 19 games against these three teams. This is good for a point per game clip of 0.58 which is higher than his AHL career of 0.50. Look for him to have a big weekend for the Baby B’s. 

On the Blue Line  

Urho VaakanainenThe young defenseman returned to the lineup for Providence for the first time since October due to a combination of being called up to Boston, getting injured, and helping Finland win the gold medal at the U20 World Junior Championships. In the three games since his return, Vaakanainen was excellent playing great defense and dishing out three assists for three total points. Look for him to continue playing well further raising his stock as a prospect.  

In Net 

Zane McIntyre: As I stated earlier the veteran goalie has played really well for Providence going 4-0-0 in his last four games with a goals against average of 2.25 and a save percentage of .884 which saw him turn away 69 of the 78 shots he faced. Zane has been able to solidify the goalie position recently for the Baby B’s which has led to them slowly but surely climbing the Eastern Conference standings. Sometimes with goalies, you need to ride the hot hand. Look for the Bruins to do that this weekend.  

The Providence Bruins were able to grab five of six points last weekend to climb into sixth place in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. Their defensive play has really been a joy to watch since they’ve gotten Zboril and Vaakanainen back in the lineup. I would expect the Baby B’s to have another big weekend which will help catapult them in the division and conference standings. This team is too talented to not be in playoff contention. 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 Trade D Goloubef To Senators For F Paul Carey

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PHOTO CREDITS: (bellevillesens.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

On Friday, January 11th, 2019, the Boston Bruins have traded defenceman Cody Goloubef to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward Paul Carey, one-for-one.

Paul Carey is a 30-year-old center from Boston, Massachusetts who is coming into the Bruins organization in the midst of a fairly solid AHL season. Carey was drafted 135th overall (5th round) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche, but only played a combined twenty-two games with the Avalanche in the National Hockey League.

The four-year Boston College veteran already played for the Providence Bruins for a brief time in 2014-15, scoring two goals and five assists for seven points in seventeen games. He also scored one goal in the playoffs with Providence that year. With little National Hockey League experience under his belt, Carey played in sixty games during the 2017-18 season with the New York Rangers, scoring 7-7-14 totals and a -13 rating with twenty penalty minutes.

This season, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound forward has spent the majority of the time with the Belleville Senators of the American Hockey League, scoring 5-22-27 totals in twenty-nine games. Carey went pointless in five NHL games with the Ottawa Senators with an even rating as well. It is most likely that Carey joins the Boston Bruins AHL affiliate team, the Providence Bruins.

So, who exactly is Boston trading away and why? Cody Goloubef is a 129-game NHL veteran, amassing a total of twenty-three points in that time. Goloubef has just joined the Providence Bruins after spending time with the Stockton Heat, the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate team for only one season.

General Manager Don Sweeney signed the 6-foot-1, 201-pound Goloubef to a two-way, one-year contract to add depth to the P-Bruins blueline. The Bruins did use his services well, as he scored twelve points (3 goals, 9 assists), in sixteen games this season. The main reason for the trade is because of the return of Urho Vaakanainen from both the 2019 World Junior Championships from Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – where he took home a gold medal with the Finland hockey team, as well as a concussion that sidelined him for numerous months.

The Bruins would rather get a scoring asset in return for Goloubef instead of just scratching him for the rest of the idea so Vaakanainen could play. Urho is one of the best prospects on the defensive core for the Bruins organization and it is without a doubt that he should play when given a chance.

Above all else, this is just a simple AHL transaction – no massive implements will come from it. Here is some insight from Providence Journal’s own, Mark Divver.

“Assuming he’s sent to Providence, Paul Carey should give P-Bruins a boost up front. With everyone healthy, they could afford to move a D.” – Mark Divver

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Bruins Vaakanainen Added To Team Finland For World Junior Championships

NHL: OCT 23 Bruins at Senators

PHOTO CREDITS: (Boston Sports Journal)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

The Boston Bruins will have another prospect representing them in the 2019 World Junior Championships from Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. According to many sources, including Chris Peters of ESPN, defenceman Urho Vaakanainen will be joining his native Team Finland for the tournament.

This is a huge addition to Finland as they gain a big defender with some National Hockey League experience under his belt. Vaakanainen was Boston’s first-round draft selection (18th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The six-foot-one, 185-pound Joensuu, Finland native has played the majority of his hockey career in the Liiga hockey league.

In 109 career Liiga games played, Vaakanainen has tallied 7-16-23 totals, including another four points in twenty-three postseason games. Prior to being selected by the Bruins in 2017, Urho had some success on the international stage with Finland. In the under-18 World Championships, he posted three goals and three assists for six points in five games.

The Bruins management decided to play Vaakanainen in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins to begin the 2018-19 season. After only six games where he put up two assists, Vaakanainen was recalled by Boston due to the number of injuries to the NHL Bruins’ blue line. All of a sudden, Vaakanainen went from playing out in Finland to playing on an NHL roster.

Unfortunately, the young d-man only played two games before an elbow by Mark Borowiecki nailed him in the head, giving him a concussion. At the time of the injury, Vaakanainen was averaging roughly nine minutes a game, with a 60.7% Corsi For percentage.

In response, the NHL’s Player Safety suspended Borowiecki for one game and was forced to forfeit just over $6,000 for the elbow. It was a very unlucky situation for Vaakanainen who was seemingly just finding his game. Since this occurrence back in October, Vaakanainen has been out of the lineup and has not been cleared by doctors due to that concussion until now.

With Boston continually winning games and players such as Chara and Miller making strides to returning to the lineup, it would seem selfish for the Bruins not to lend Vaakanainen to Finland for the World Juniors. Experience on the world stage is something that most players do not have the opportunity to play in so for Urho, it may be quite crucial to the development of his evolving game. Below are some prospect analysis quotes from different people.

“An intelligent, two-way defender…reads the play really well, has his head up all the time and makes quick decisions with the puck, Futureconsiderations.ca 2017″

“He has good puck moving ability and strong offensive upside. He is also a good skater and can rush the puck up ice with confidence, Hockeyprospect.com 2017″

Finland’s first game of the 2019 World Junior Championships is on Boxing Day against Sweden in Victoria, B.C.

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