“Somethin’s Bruin”

The Phantoms play three of their next six games against the Providence Bruins:  Tonight in Providence, back there Sunday afternoon, then at the PPL Center in Allentown on Saturday.

Brandon Alderson was re-added from Reading for Forward depth for the trip.  Netminder Jason LaBarbera is nursing an injury and unavailable for the weekend, so Marty Ouellette is on the bus to back up our guy Stoli for the weekend–who has returned from one night on the bench in Philly.  (Side Note:  Looks like we’ll get Knapp in net for Reading tonight for those of us making the trek down 222.)  Aaron Palushaj and the Captain, Colin McDonald, should make their return from injury in tonight’s game.

Here’s a Providence preview from der Eishockeyzuschauer:



The Providence Bruins, a team which appeared to be in good shape going into the 2015/16 AHL season, are in desperate need of a victory after dropping their last six contests in a row. Injuries, NHL recalls by the Boston Bruins and, most notably, horrible goaltending have all conspired to leave the Rhode Island club in what appears to be complete disarray. Altogether, the seriously slumping P-Bruins have won just three out of fourteen games so far this season and are currently occupying the seventh and final place in the Atlantic Division of the AHL’s Eastern Conference.   

The good news for Providence, however, is that a pair of weekend games on home ice at The Dunk against the visiting Lehigh Valley Phantoms still give the P-Bruins the chance to leap frog over their nearest division rivals in the league standings.
To begin with, the P-Bruins will obviously need to do a better job on the attack despite the devastating loss of the club’s two most dangerous players. Frank Vatrano (10 ga, 10 go, 12 pts), the 21-year-old left wing from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst who was named the AHL’s official Rookie of the Month for October, was recalled by the Boston Bruins on November 6th and might not be coming back for a while after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens in his very first NHL game. Alexander Khokhlachev (13 ga, 4 go, 13 pts), the 22-year-old skillful Russian right wing who topped the P-Bruins in scoring in each of his first two seasons as a professional and continues to do so again this season, is expected to miss 4-6 weeks after suffering a hand injury against the Utica Comets on November 7th. 
The Providence Bruins now also find themselves without the services of Seth Griffith, the 22-year-old right wing who tallied six goals in 30 NHL games for Boston last season and also notched the visitors’ lone goal when the P-Bruins fell to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 3-1 at the PPL Center on October 24th — Nevertheless, head coach Bruce Cassidy’s club will have to improve upon an offense that has scored more than three goals in just one of their last six AHL games.   
The P-Bruins have been helped by the addition of highly experienced veteran Max Talbot, the 31-year-old center who has skated in no less than 671 NHL games (including two-plus seasons for the Philadelphia Flyers) and captured the coveted Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins back in 2009; although known primarily a checker and penalty killer throughout his NHL career, Talbot (6 ga, 1 go, 5 as, 0 pen, + 1 def) has averaged a point per game for Providence since being assigned to the AHL by the Boston Bruins a couple of weeks ago.
The P-Bruins have also benefited from the return of center Austin Czarnik (7 ga, 2 go, 7 pts, 6 pen, + 5 def), the undrafted 22-year-old rookie from the Miami University of Ohio who missed a month after sitting out with a shoulder injury; the diminutive Czarnik (5’9″ 160 lbs) is a clever playmaker and had a goal in his first game back against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on November 11th.  
One forward who has been somewhat hot as of late is left wing Colton Hargrove (11 ga, 3 go, 4 pts, 8 pen, – 2 def), the 23-year-old rookie out of Western Michigan University who was the 7th round pick of the Boston Bruins at the 2012 NHL Draft. The 216-pound Hargrove, who was briefly sidelined by injury earlier this season, has found the back of the net three times in his last five AHL games. Another rookie forward who seems to have found a measure of form recently is Swedish import Anton Blidh (14 ga, 4 go, 0 as, 8 pen, – 1 def), the 20-year-old winger who arrived this summer via HC Frolunda Gothenburg and now counts four goals from his last nine AHL games. 
Colby Cave (14 ga, 5 go, 6 pts, 4 pen, – 4 def), the unheralded and undrafted 20-year-old center from Saskatchewan who scored two goals for Providence the last time Lehigh Valley visited the Dunkin’ Donuts Center earlier this season, is the second-leading marksman for the P-Bruins behind only the promoted Vatrano. 
Less than a week into November, the P-Bruins added veteran Rob Bordson (4 ga, 0 go, 2 as, 0 pen, – 1 def), the undrafted 27-year-old left wing from the University of Minnesota – Duluth who previously appeared in 236 AHL games (32 go, 78 pts) in parts of four seasons for the Adirondack Phantoms before spending all of last season in the AHL skating for the Chicago Wolves (61 ga, 8 go, 23 pts, 33 pen, + 7 def). Bordson was a free agent this summer but was not signed by any AHL club so, despite having played just 38 games in the third-tier East Coast Hockey League in his five seasons as a pro, the American forward hooked on with the fledgling Adirondack Thunder. Bordson proceeded to be named the ECHL’s official Player of the Month for October and was leading the circuit in scoring with seven goals and 13 points in seven games when he was signed to a Standard Player Contract (and not a Professional Try-Out) by the P-Bruins.
Without a doubt, the most disappointing aspect of the Providence Bruins so far this season has been the overall performance of the goaltenders. Malcolm Subban (5 ga, 3.75 avg, .850 svpct), the very highly touted 21-year-old who was the 1st round pick of the Boston Bruins at the 2012 NHL Draft but missed the first seven games of this season through injury, has been terrible since returning to the line-up and now ‘boasts’ the worst save percentage of all 47 AHL goaltenders who have played in a minimum of 240 minutes so far this fall (and, thus, takes Lehigh Valley Phantoms netminder Jason LaBarbera off that hook). Subban, who conceded less than four goals in a game for the first time this season in his last start against the Portland Pirates this past Sunday, is reportedly still the subject of numerous NHL trade rumors despite his lack of form at present.
Zane McIntyre (8 ga, 3.25 avg, .876), the 23-year-old rookie from the University of North Dakota who was the 6th round pick of the Boston Bruins at the 2010 NHL Draft and won the Mike Richter Award as the best goaltender in U.S. college hockey last season, has only been slightly better than Subban but does claim two of the P-Bruins’ three victories this season; it was McIntrye who started both of the Providence Bruins’ previous two games against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms earlier this season. 
See you at the arena(s),

Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey


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