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Not Breaking News: Providence Bruins Blew a 3-0 Series Lead to Penguins

OH MY GOD WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? What are the chances that anyone suddenly gives a crap about the AHL, is what I mean.

"Hey, remember last month when our AHL team totally blew it against Pittsburgh's AHL team?" - said no one until 5 seconds after Bergeorn scored last night
"Hey, remember last month when our AHL team totally blew it against Pittsburgh's AHL team?" - said no one until 5 seconds after Bergeorn scored last night
Bruce Bennett

Congratulations to all the geniuses out there who read tweets last night immediately after the Boston Bruins went up 3-0 in the series to the Pittsburgh Penguins that informed us of an impossible-to-know fact: the AHL affiliates for both teams, the Providence Bruins and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, were in this exact position a few weeks ago - and the P-Bruins blew the 3-0 series lead and lost in game 7.

Shocking! Except, you shouldn't be shocked, because I've been yelling about this since it happened, and we covered it here on this site pretty extensively. Any well-informed fan or media member should have already been aware of this, and so I would just like to state my immense irritation with the sudden popularity of this AHL series that before last night, didn't register on the radars of...anyone.

Until Providence lost, of course. Because back then, it was Providence pulling what the 2010 Boston Bruins pulled. But now, the Boston Bruins are poised to pull a Providence Bruins! What are the odds?

This is great news for the Penguins because they can pull a miraculous comeback just like their AHL affiliate did! This is terrible news for Boston, because this organization has something structurally wrong with it or ingrained deeply within it that makes them blow insurmountable series leads to teams from Pennsylvania!

Just kidding. This is a nice story line to bring up because it happened recently, and makes media members who have been ignoring the AHL for years look suddenly knowledgeable. And some are using it as a sly way to say "be worried, Bruins fans!" for the reasons listed above. Because they're media, and they're smarter than you, because they know about this AHL series! Did they watch one second of it? No, but who cares?! They have just *informed* you!

If they actually knew anything about the series that took place between Providence and Wilkes-Barre in the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs a few weeks ago, then here is what you would know: relax, this is not why Bruins fans should be paranoid or worry about being up 3-0. It has nothing to do with their farm team, which went on to get crushed by the Syracuse Silver Surfers Crunch in the next round.

The series of events was this:

  • Providence finished first overall in the AHL in the regular season.
  • In the first round of the playoffs, they went down 2-0 in a best-of-five series to the Hershey Bears. But THEY OVERCAME THIS! It was a mini-reverse of what was to happen in the forthcoming best-of-seven series, if only the AHL had those in the first round.
  • Providence faces Wilkes-Barre in the second round. By this time, they had lost their top defenseman after the game five over Hershey due to a rare syndrome known as Being Called up to the NHL. Matt Bartkowski suffered from it and was whisked away to Boston. Providence started the series down their top d-man.
  • Providence won the first two games by blowouts because the baby Pens played their franchise goaltender Marc-Andre Zatkoff (or is it Jeff Fleury? Or Jeff Zatkoff?). Providence goaltender rookie sensation Niklas Svedberg was merely average throughout the playoffs at best.
  • After game two, Providence lost two more defenseman. Torey Krug also suffered from NHL Call Up syndrome and went on to do great things and we now see a statue of him leaping erected in front of the TD Garden. That's Krug, right? They also lost another top-six defenseman in Zach Trotman, who was taken out early in the baby Pens series by a disgustingly Matt Cooke-like dirty hit that gave him his third concussion of the season. Colby Cohen, another top-eight-ish d-man, was also lost to injury due to spontaneous sucking (or some other random injury that required surgery).
  • So, after two games, Providence lost their three of their top defenseman, including the one who propelled their power play (they scored zero power play goals in this series after losing Krug). Providence had offensive advantage because Zatkoff sucks, but then they smartened up and benched Zatkoff. Once Brad Thiessen took over in goal, he outplayed Svedberg. What an asshole.
  • Providence won game three but didn't even come close to winning the next four games. The only offense generated for the rest of the series came from the best line ever of Jordan Caron - Carter Camper - and Craig Cunningham. Caron and Camper, along with Chris Bourque (and Svedberg) are all officially practicing with Boston as of today.
I liken this blown series lead to Boston versus Philly in 2010 more than anything because it involved some crucial pieces:
  • inexperienced rookie goalie (Rask then, Svedberg now)
  • loss of top defenseman (Boston went duration of that series without Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg, and Mark Stuart returned from injury to play the last four games, which were all losses)
  • Although nobody was Mike Richards'd out of the series like David Krejci to account for the lack of scoring, I assume Chris Bourque or Ryan Spooner spontaneously forgot how to play hockey because that top line disappeared in the last five games.
That Wilkes-Barre/Scranton team deserves praise for coming back to beat the Bruins, sure. But they don't have anything aligned with Pittsburgh. There is no Crosby, Malkin, Iginla, Letang, etc. etc. There is only Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Cooke down there.

Nobody on that team experienced 2010, although they were all aware of it the moment they went up 3-0, and even when they used it to come back from 0-2 to Hershey. (Oh, except Trent Whitfield, who was totally apart of 2010 and this 2013 Providence team...sorry Captain Trent, I still love you.)

Almost everyone on this Bruins team experienced that 2010 devastation. They know. They're aware. They're experienced and better because of it.

And the key thing that separates this all - the key thing that makes this a new news item to most fans and media members NOW instead of, I don't know, when it happened - is that IT'S THE AHL.

While bringing Krug and Bartkowski straight from AHL playoff situations into NHL playoff situations was hugely beneficial, it doesn't work the other way around because the other way around doens't exist.

The errors of an AHL team don't haunt it's NHL affiliate. It's just media fodder. So knock it off. And Providence still rules.

Let's talk about things that are actually relevant, like who is going to fill into the giant heroic skates of Gregory Campbell? I say Jordan Caron, but more on that later.