It was a rare occurrence last year - of 18 weekends where the P-Bruins played three games in three nights, they swept exactly two of them, much more frequently getting swept themselves. It was the unfortunate result of having a very young, inexperienced team.
This year's team couldn't look more different. The proof is on the scoresheet - where last year's leading scorer was rookie Carter Camper, this year it's veteran Jamie Tardif, the former Grand Rapids Griffins' captain, who leads in the goals category. Backing him up with fists and offense is Bobby Robins - and with a bit more balance, Christian Hanson - and leading assists man Chris Bourque is hardly a youngster, either.
That veteran character not only comes out off the ice, where players like Hanson and Robins lead the fan relations charge, but on it as well. While last year the P-Bruins would always be hard-pressed to fight back when falling behind on the scoresheet early in the game, this year a one-goal deficit rarely seems like an unsurmountable feat - as they proved twice this weekend.
On Friday, the Monarchs capitalized first, beating Niklas Svedberg early, but the P-Bruins bounced back as Kyle MacKinnon, starting off a stellar weekend, beat Martin Jones for his first goal of the season to end the period tied at one. MacKinnon would score again in the second off a Chris Bourque assist, but it was Torey Krug who scored the game-winner, also his first goal of the season. Beating Martin Jones is always excellent, as he used to give the P-Bruins fits - but even sweeter was that it was Niklas Svedberg's third victory over the Monarchs in four games against them this season.
On Saturday, the P-Bruins headed northwest to face the Sharks for Michael Hutchinson's second win of the season. Jamie Tardif and Matt Bartkowski tallied the two regulation goals - Bartkowski's, which came with three minutes to play in regulation, was originally not ruled a goal. Thanks to the newly-implemented goal-review (finally, the AHL gets with the program!) the P-Bruins took it to a shootout, and the struggling Max Sauve won it in the sixth round.
The P-Bruins looked good on Friday and Saturday, but offensively it was nothing compared to Sunday, when they put 47 shots on goal against the Adirondack Phantoms. It's beginning to be a Sunday afternoon tradition, as this is the second weekend in a row Providence has put up 45+ shots against an opposing goalie in regulation. Yet again, Jamie Tardif was the hero of the game, scoring both the regulation goals - Kyle MacKinnon, again, put the icing on the cake in overtime, securing the win just a minute and ten seconds in - a nice 3-2 victory.
- For a little perspective on how important these three wins were - before the weekend, the PBruins were in 11th in the east. They currently sit in sixth. I don't think the team was ranked higher than 8th at any point last season.
- The P-Bruins are 4-0-0-1 in the month of December so far and 7-2-0-1 in their last ten, putting them one point out of first place in the Atlantic Division.
- Bobby Robins PIM watch: 112 PIMs in 21 games.
- Jamie Tardif is the first Providence player to 10 goals this season.
- Jared Knight, who has only appeared in three games this season, is set to come back next weekend if all goes well.
- The P-Bruins' penalty kill is, according to coach Cassidy, "not as terrible as it looks on paper." They are killing penalties at 79%, worse than 26 other teams in the AHL.