As a long-time Providence watcher, the lack of Worcester on this schedule for the upcoming season is bizarre. Gone are the days of 12 games/season against those jerks from up route 146. But the more things change, the more things stay the same. Here are some highlights from the schedule release:
1. The AHL Bruins will never play the AHL Canadiens.
When the Habs' affiliate was the Hamilton Bulldogs, they were in the AHL's Western Conference, and due to the lack of conference crossover, the two teams never met. With the affiliation switch, the AHL Habs are now the St. John's Ice Caps, who were in Providence's division last year; due to realignment, they won't face off at all this year, either. They're destined to never meet, or something.
2. Get ready to see a lot of the Pirates and Falcons.
36% of Providence's schedule is comprised of games against these two teams, 14 games apiece. The Falcons and Pirates have new affiliates; the Falcons are with the Coyotes where they were with CBJ last year, and the Pirates have switched to being the AHL Panthers, where they were the Coyotes last year.
3. You'll have three chances to see a team you've never seen before.
The P-Bruins face the Marlies, the Americans, and the Comets for the first time this season. (In the case of Rochester, it's likely they've faced a Providence AHL team in the past, but it wouldn't have been for a very long time. Maybe look for a throwback night, since the Reds probably played the Amerks back in the day?) So that's the AHL Canucks, Sabres, and Leafs. You get the Marlies on March 12, the Comets on March 13 and the Amerks on January 3. Those will definitely be games of interest.
4. Lo and behold: Saturday home games!!!
3/12 against Toronto and 4/2 against Hershey are on Saturdays. There hasn't been a Saturday home game in Providence in actual years. This is a big deal!
5. Fewer three-in-threes
Due to incredibly short travel, Providence was cursed with a multitude of three-in-threes (games on fri-sat-sun in the same weekend) in past years, especially against Worcester/Springfield/Hartford. This year they have 11, which isn't bad considering that I believe in 2009-2010 they had 18 or 19.