Tonight the Providence Bruins (28-18-1-6) face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (28-19-3-3) for the third of four meetings this season, and the first game in Wilkes-Barre for the season series. They look to extend their point-streak to seven games; the P-Bruins are 5-0-0-1 in their last six.
Alexander Khokhlachev has had a point in each of these games, scoring three goals and recording five assists in his current six game point streak. Jared Knight returns to the lineup for the first time since January 24th.
The previous two games between the two teams took place on January 17 and 19 in Providence and each had a final score of 5-1, with Providence winning the first game and losing the second. Different goalies have appeared in each game for both teams, as Niklas Svedberg got the win versus Jeff Deslauriers on the 17th and Jeff Jakaitis, in his only appearance with Providence, lost to Eric Hartzell in net on the 19th.
Providence went 2-for-11 on the power play in the previous two games and killed off all six power plays for the Penguins. Providence out-shot Wilkes-Barre in both games for a combined total of 65-59.
Preview: Providence @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 7pm
Both teams are fighting for playoff spots, and the Penguins should be the more desperate team as they are currently on the outside looking in. Providence cannot afford to lose any ground either. Their recent winning streak has put them in sixth in the conference, while the Penguins recent five game losing stream has dropped them to ninth.
|Division Rank||3rd in Atlantic||4th in East|
|Conference Rank||6th in Eastern||9th in Eastern|
|Home/Away||Away: 15-9-0-4||Home: 15-11-1-1|
|Leading After 1||15-2-0-2||15-0-2-0|
|Trailing After 1||4-12-0-0||3-14-1-2|
|Tied After 1||9-4-1-4||10-5-0-1|
|Leading After 2||19-1-1-3||16-0-1-0|
|Trailing After 2||1-13-0-2||5-17-1-1|
|Tied After 2||8-4-0-1||7-2-1-2|
|PP%||20.2% (40/198)||13.7% (37/271)|
|PP Home/Away||Away: 24.7%||Home: 12.9%|
|PK Home/Away||Away: 77.2%||Home: 86.6%|
Cunningham is on the verge of hitting the 20-goal mark in all three of his seasons in the AHL, all with Providence. Cunningham also leads the team with seven power play goals, and shots on net (161).
The Penguins are led in scoring by Tom Kostopoulos (19-18-37), followed by Nick Drazenovic (11-20-31) and Brian Gibbons (11-19-30). Kostopoulos and Harry Zolnierczyk each have one goal and two assists in two games versus Providence this season. No P-Bruin has more than two points versus the Penguins this season (Cunningham, Florek, and Koko each have one goal and one assist).
Koko's 34 points puts him in eight place for most points among AHL rookies. Seth Griffith's 30 points have also put him in the top 20 for AHL rookie scoring (19th). Koko is also among AHL rookie leaders in plus/minus; he is second with +14.
Anthony Camara's five game winning goals are tied for the most among AHL rookies.
Inactive Joe Morrow is still tied for 18th in the AHL among scoring by defensemen. David Warsofsky also has 26 points to tie him for 18th with Morrow. The Penguins Brendan Mikkelson is tied for 14th with 27 points.
The Penguins Pierre-Luc Letoumeau-Leblond is among the leaders in the AHL in penalty minutes. He has 191 penalty minutes in 45 games, which is second most in the league. Bobby Robins is fourth with 169. Robins is second in major penalties with 19.
Niklas Svedberg gave up one goal on 27 shots in his one appearance against the Penguins this season. Jeff Jakaitis was in net for Providence when they lost 5-1, but he is no longer with the team. Malcolm Subban has yet to face the Penguins this season.
The Penguins goaltenders each appeared this season versus the Bruins. Jeff Deslauriers was pulled about halfway through the third period after giving up four goals on 22 shots back on January 17th. Eric Hartzell gave up one goal on five shots in his relief. Hartzell then made 33 saves on 34 shots in the rematch.
Niklas Svedberg is expected to get the start in net tonight. For the Penguins, Jeff Deslauriers has had the last three starts, where he has gone 0-2-1-0 and given up eight goals. Prior to that, Hartzell lost two in a row , giving up seven goals in two games. The Penguins have lost five in a row, in which they have gone 0-3-2-0.
BFFs Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight are both expected to return from injury tonight. Spooner sustained a wrist injury and missed last Sunday's game. Knight has been out since January 24th when he took a heavy hit into the boards and injured his neck and/or shoulder (shout out to Mark Divver for this info as usual).
Not expected to play are long-term injured players Joe Morrow (knee), Nick Johnson ("upper body", which I speculate is a concussion), Zach Trotman (shoulder), and Andrew Cherniwchan (shoulder). Matt Fraser remains out with a lower body injury (knee, apparently) and the results of his MRI that he had on the 18th aren't known to me yet.
Taking a page from the Jared Knight Book of Re-Injury, Alexander Fallstrom returned to the lineup on February 14th after being out since December 29th with a shoulder injury. By February 16th, he had injured his other shoulder and is out for an unforseen amount of time.
I do not know what the deal with this team and their shoulders are.
Returning from Recall
On Thursday, the Boston Bruins resumed practice after the Olympic break ended. With Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and Loui Eriksson not expected to join the team until early next week, the Bruins recalled two players from Providence to practice with the team on Thursday. The recall was the second for Craig Cunningham and the first for Alexander Khokhlachev. They were returned to Providence after practice, and for Friday's practice, Boston recalled Matt Lindblad and proud new father Justin Florek. All four are expected to play tonight against the Penguins.
Looking at the Season
53 games into the season means there are 23 games left in the regular season and the playoff race remains extremely tight. After a low point mid-season, the P-Bruins have been rolling in the most recent stretch of games.
The only two players to appear in all 53 games this season are Mike Moore and Craig Cunningham.
Breaking the season down into ten game segments (I learned/stole this from NESN), here is how the P-Bruins season has gone so far:
The P-Bruins have scored first in 29 of their 53 games and have a record of 21-3-0-5 when scoring first.
In games where there is at least one fighting major, the P-Bruins are 21-8-1-3, with at least one fight in 33 of 53 games.
The P-Bruins have a 7-6 record in shootouts. Their most successful shooters have been David Warsofsky (2-for-2) and Jared Knight (3-for-3). Ryan Spooner has the next highest shooting percentage in the shootout with 54.1% success rate (4-for-7). Before he was traded, Carter Camper had a team-worst zero goals on seven attempts.
Starting goaltenders, line combinations, and defensive pairings will be updated here as soon as they're made available closer to game time.
Forwards: Lindblad, Flick, Randell, Khokhlachev, Cunningham, Camara, Griffith, Florek, Robins, Knight, Spooner, Campbell
Defense: Youds, Cross, Warsofsky, Casto, Moore, Parlett
Goal: Svedberg, Subban backing up
Scratches: Morrow, Fallstrom, Fraser, Morrison, Johnson, Lavin, Trotman, Cherniwchan
In Game Updates
The forward lines:
Moore - Casto
Warsofsky - Parlett
Cross - Youds
In net, it is Niklas Svedberg vs Jeff Deslauriers