(Photo courtesy of Blake Gumprecht on Flickr.)
While the Boston Bruins were losing in an embarrassing fashion on Wednesday, the Providence Bruins were aboard a bus for a ten-plus hour road trip to Norfolk, Virginia, where they will play the Norfolk Admirals Friday and Saturday evening before heading to Pennsylvania to play the Hershey Bears on Sunday.
The game against the Hershey Bears will be the first time the two teams faceoff since last season's playoffs, where the P-Bruins overcame a 2-0 series deficit in the first round best-of-five series to win in the fifth game. The Bears, the AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals, are 6-7-2-2 this season and sit at the bottom of the East Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference.
Tonight's game against the Norfolk Admirals, the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks, will be the second time the two teams play this season. They last saw each other in Providence on November 15. Starting goaltender Niklas Svedberg gave up four goals in the first period that night, and although he didn't give up another goal in the remaining two periods, the Bruins were unable to tie the game largely due to the outstanding play of Admirals goaltender John Gibson (what a jerk).
The 4-3 loss kicked off a stretch of five games in which Providence has gone 1-3-1-0 and generally struggled almost every night to score goals and kill penalties. They have failed to get meaningful or timely goaltending from both Svedberg and Malcolm Subban. They have failed to get points from their top lines and top players like Ryan Spooner. They are in danger of dropping to .500 if they lose tonight.
Tonight: P-Bruins (8-7-1-2) @ Admirals (10-6-0-4), 7:30pm EST
Last time these two teams played, Providence was looking to extend a winning streak to four games while the Admirals were looking to avoid extending a losing streak to four games. This time around, Providence is looking to avoid losing three in a row, and the Admirals are looking to get a point in the fourth consecutive game (2-0-0-1).
|Record||8-7-1-2 (19 pts in 18 GP)||10-6-0-4 (24 pts in 20 GP)|
|Division||3rd in Atlantic||3rd in East|
|Conference||10th in Eastern||5th in Eastern|
|Home/Away||Away: 4-3-0-1||Home: 4-3-0-2|
|Goal Differential||0 (63 GA/GA)||+3 (+3 (51 GF, 48 GA)|
|Leading After 1st Period||5-0-0-0||4-0-0-1|
|Tied After 1st Period||2-0-1-2||5-2-0-3|
|Losing After 1st Period||1-7-0-0||1-4-0-0|
|Leading After 2nd Period||7-0-1-1||5-0-01|
|Tied After 2nd Period||0-0-0-0||3-1-0-1|
|Losing After 2nd Period||1-7-0-1||2-5-0-2|
|Record in 1-Goal Games||3-2-1-2||6-2-0-4|
|Record in 2-Goal Games||0-0-0-0||0-2-0-0|
|Record in 3-Goal Games||4-4-0-0||3-1-0-0|
|Record in Shootouts||2-2||3-4|
|Power Play||6th, 21.3% (16-for-75)||17th, 16.5% (15-for-91)|
|Home/Away PP||26.7% (8-for-30)||22.5% (9-for-40)|
|Penalty Kill||30th, 73.1% (18 GA on 67 PKs)||2nd, 89.6% (10 GA on 96 PKs)|
|Home/Away PK||66.7% (6 GA on 18 PKs)||91.7% (3 GA on 36 PKs)|
|Shorthanded Goals For||1||4|
|Shorthanded Goals Against||0||3|
The disparity between the P-Bruins penalty kill (30th) and the Admirals PK (2nd, 1st at home) is pretty frightening. The P-Bruins have a higher ranked PP, but it has been slipping as of late.
Just last week, Providence had a goal differential in the plus, but now have given up as many goals as they have let in. If the P-Bruins are able to get a lead, namely taking a lead into the second or third period, they have a great record. Unfortunately they've fallen behind early and often lately, and have a pretty terrible record in all those scenarios.
Since they last played on November 15, the Ducks traded away top scorer Peter Holland. Players that also had an impact in the Admirals win two weeks ago are called up to Anaheim currently - namely Sami Vatanen and Alex Grant. Noted useless human Garnett Exelby is still with Norfolk, and still captain, which means this team definitely deserves to lose.
Both Devante Smith-Pelly and Emerson Etem were recently returned to the AHL from the Ducks. On Wednesday in their first games back, they each had three points. (Kudos to @BeneathScope for this info!)
Kevan Miller, who was on emergency recall to Boston, was sent back down after the loss to the Detroit Red Wings in which he was a healthy scratch. The return to Providence is waiver-free due to the rules of emergency call ups, but his return to Providence was also mandatory with the activation of the player he was called up to replace, Dennis Seidenberg, from the injured reserve.
Miller was in the lineup in the midst of Providence's season-long defensive woes, but perhaps his experience immensely positive experience in Boston will impact his play in Providence, and hopefully positively influence his fellow defensemen. I assume he was flown to Norfolk to join the team, although the official AHL roster says he is still inactive.
A few players have been rotated in and out of the lineup as healthy scratches - Alexander Fallstrom, Anthomy Camara, and Seth Griffith. Camara finally scored his first goal last Sunday. The defensive healthy scratch rotation includes Chris Casto, who also scored his first professional goal last weekend. I have no idea who will and won't be in the lineup tonight, but it was a surprise to me when Alexander Khokhlachev was a healthy scratch last Sunday.
Given the type of team they were playing (Springfield Falcons), it made more sense to go with a more physical forward (Rob Flick, who is normally a healthy scratch regardless, along with Tyler Randell), but it didn't appear to have much of an impact on the game.
Svedberg starts for @AHLBruins tonight in Norfolk and Kevan Miller returns after impressive three-game NHL stint— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) November 29, 2013
Scratches, all healthy, for @AHLBruins tonight: Knight, Flick, Randell, Casto, Youds— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) November 29, 2013
That means the lineup will be the following:
- Carter Camper
- Alexander Fallstrom
- Matt Fraser
- Seth Griffith
- Nick Johnson
- Alex Khokhlachev
- Ryan Spooner
- Kevan Miller
- Joe Morrow
Starting in goal:
- Niklas Svedberg
In the previous matchup, Steven Whitney is the only remaining member of the Admirals that had a multi-point game (1 goal, 1 assist). Max Friberg had 1 goal, while John Kurtz and Chris Wagner had one assist each. For Providence, Carter Camper had 3 assists against Norfolk two weeks ago (but has only one point in four games since). Nick Johnson and Ryan Spooner each had one goal and one assist (although Spooner hasn't score since).
Where Art Thou Spooner?
Since his two-point game against the Admirals, Spooner hasn't had a single point in four games. Although he did have one of the two shootout goals in a shootout win against Bridgeport, he's been a combined -1 over this span. He's also had 12 shots on net. Their top scorer and best play maker needs to step it up.
Whether Svedberg or Subban gets the start tonight won't make a difference, since whoever sits tonight will probably start tomorrow. Gibson has played in almost every game for the Admirals so I imagine he will play both games.
Bonus! More than just the most basic stats! For the AHL!!
Thanks to the wonderful invention of twitter, I've found someone who does AHL stats! Here is how the AHL teams currently rank in (estimated) possession close through November 25. Providence is in the bottom half - they rank 16th (49.87%).
- Tonight: P-Bruins @ Admirals, 7:30pm EST
- Saturday: P-Bruins @ Admirals, 7:15pm EST
- Sunday: P-Bruins @ Hershey Bears, 5pm EST
Let's try to get at least one win this weekend, okay? Hashtag low standards.