Providence, RI: After 6 days of recuperation, the Providence Bruins return to work aiming to continue success from the past week. The P-Bruins posted a 1-0-1 record in a home-and-home series with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. This includes a 5-2 drubbing of the Sound Tigers at home in Providence—their first win of the season at the Dunk. Providence travels to nearby Springfield this Saturday, before returning home for Pink in the Rink Sunday afternoon.
Beacon of Hope:
Last week, the Providence Bruins played two spirited contests against Bridgeport. From puck drop Friday night onward, it seemed a livelier, aggressive Bruins team replaced the passive team we saw through the first two weeks. Passing was crisp, tape-to-tape, and purposeful—far less pucks were passed into dead zones on the ice, or worse, onto opponent’s sticks. The Providence offense created opportunities, and forechecked hard while the defense mostly suppressed high-danger shots, and activated when necessary to join the offense.
While the Providence powerplay remains mostly toothless, going 0-for-6 this past week, the PK was flawless. When they weren’t tightly guarding the slot, the PK unit aggressively hounded pucks in the neutral and offensive zones. They shut down a powerplay comprised of skilled forwards Josh Ho-Sang, Keiffer Bellows and defensemen Sebastian Aho and Devon Towes.
Providence Bruins Roster Notes:
The Providence Bruins lost the services of 2017 first round draft pick Urho Vaakanainen to a recent call-up after their game in Bridgeport last week. With the recent injury to Vaakanainen in Ottawa however, Providence may be surrendering another defenseman to the major league roster. Thusfar, no call-ups have been announced and the roster remains largely untouched since last Saturday’s game.
To replace the injured Vaakanainen, the Bruins announced Thursday they have called up Jeremy Lauzon on an emergency basis. This will be the second-year pro’s first call-up to the NHL. Lauzon has 1G 3A in only 6 games played for the Providence Bruins. Out of all left-hand defensemen not named Urho Vaakanainen, he has looked the most complete.
Joel Messner remains with Providence after his solid first outing with the AHL Providence Bruins. Formerly with the ECHL Atlanta Gladiators, Messner replaced the promoted Vaakanainen. Chris Breen and Emil Johansson have returned to active duty as of Thursday morning. JFK will not play this weekend. He has returned home to Sweden for a personal matter.
Mark McNeill is “week to week” after limping off the ice against Bridgeport Saturday night.
Providence Bruins Line Combinations:
Credit: Mark Diver, Providence Journal
If last week is any indication, Vladar gets the nod in Springfield. McIntyre will play in front of the home crowd Sunday.
Providence got walked all over in the last matchup with Springfield. The Thunderbirds coupled two back to back three-goal periods running the Bruins out of the Mass Mutual center and back down the Mass Pike. A shaky Providence defense allowed repeated, quality backdoor passes that connected for several cross-crease goals against.
The schedule confers no advantage to any teams the Providence Bruins face this weekend. Springfield, Bridgeport, and Providence all play the same number of games on the same dates. Providence faces off against a red-hot Thunderbirds team that has yet to lose in regulation to begin the weekend on Saturday.
After spending several seasons in the basement of their division, Springfield is 4-0-2 and second in the Atlantic Division, sixth league-wide. Providence has gained momentum, and a barometer of their progress since stumbling out of the gate will be their matchup in Springfield. Should they drop the decision Saturday, Sunday at home becomes a must-win game. On the bright side, should Providence win both games this weekend, they would almost pull even in win percentage and leapfrog the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the standings.