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After a good start, the P-Bruins are slipping in November

After going 6-2-0 in October, the P-Bruins are 2-3-2 in November and are losing ground in the Atlantic Division.

Heather Rose - Smoke & Honey Photography

(Note: This post was written on Friday, November 18; statistics and records may vary slightly based on the weekend’s results.)

After winning six out of eight games during the month of October, the Providence Bruins’ good start seems to be fading away. Since the calendar turned to November, the P-Bruins have gone 2-3-2 and have fallen to fifth in the Atlantic Division.

The P-Bruins were shutout 6-0 by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on November 6th, and then lost two consecutive overtime games to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Springfield, respectively, the following weekend.

They had a solid team win on Sunday against Hershey, but overall their play this month has not been good enough. The P-Bruins still have three games remaining on the November schedule.

Providence was one of the best teams in the league during the first month of the season. What is the cause (or causes) of these recent struggles?

It is entirely possible the nagging injuries up in Boston have fueled some of the inconsistency in Providence this month. Boston has used arguably more call-ups this month than any other team in the league.

  • Starting goaltender Zane McIntyre has been recalled twice this month because of separate injuries to Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin.
  • Defenseman Rob O’Gara was recalled on November 6th and has not been returned yet.
  • Kenny Agostino and Peter Cehlarik, two of Providence’s best point producers, were recalled by Boston last week.
  • Austin Czarnik, who leads the P-Bruins with eleven points, also saw some NHL action this month.
  • Jordan Szwarz, one of Providence’s best players, has been in Boston since the first of November.

The McIntyre recalls left Providence without their top netminder for a couple games. O’Gara is one of Providence’s best defenseman, and the team has missed his presence a lot this month. Agostino and Cehlarik have been excellent this season and are not easily replaceable. Szwarz has been one of Providence’s most consistent players the past two seasons.

Also, I should mention that Danton Heinen is up in Boston and probably won’t be going back down any time soon. He put up eight points in four games with Providence before solidifying his spot on Boston’s roster.

The number of players on recall in Boston is not the only reason the P-Bruins are struggling all of a sudden: there haven’t enough players have been contributing offensively.

Jesse Gabrielle, though one of Boston’s best prospects, has not recorded a point in thirteen games played. Veteran forward Chris Porter has only been held to an assist. Adam Payerl has one point in eleven games played.

Porter had 25 points last season and Payerl had 38. These are two guys that need to pick it up if Providence is going to stop its slide.

Gabrielle is young and his offense will come around eventually. It’s not worth it to be frustrated at his lack of production, but hopefully he can start to pick things up soon.

Despite not having any points, rookie defenseman Jakub Zboril was really starting to play well before being injured on a brutal hit by Andrey Pedan.

Pedan received a three-game suspension after charging and leaving his feet. Zboril has not played since then and has been missed on the blueline.

In the grand scheme of things, there are several reasons as to why the P-Bruins are struggling. Sure, the injuries in Boston definitely are not helping Providence’s case, but every AHL team has to replace their best players who get called up to the NHL.

Providence has enough talent to do so, but the lack of production from certain players is not making it any easier.

The P-Bruins will be on the road for most of December and hopefully by then they have things sorted out. They may be getting some players back from the big club soon but that club remains to be seen.

One thing is clear, though: Providence needs to figure it out if they hope to stay at the top of the Atlantic Division.