After being one of the hottest teams in the AHL during the first half of the season, the Providence Bruins have cooled off since the start of the new year. Their play has dropped off and it’s reflected in their 3-6-1 record this month. And to make matters worse, they’ve also fallen to third in the Atlantic Division and currently sit behind the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
With that said, the P-Bruins should not hit the panic button just yet. They are only two points behind the second place Penguins and three behind the first place Phantoms. Reclaiming first place is certainly within reach, but it won’t be so easy if the P-Bruins continue their sluggish play.
The P-Bruins will also need both their goaltenders to get back to their winning ways down the stretch if they hope to stay in the playoff picture. This isn’t out of reach either.
Despite some mid-season struggles, Zane McIntyre has two shutouts in his last three games and seems to be regaining his composure between the pipes. He started the season as the No. 1 goaltender, and he’s definitely good enough to be one.
Furthermore, Jordan Binnington has been one of the league’s best goaltenders this season and earned an invite to the All-Star game because of it. Sure, he hasn’t played his best hockey as of late, but everyone hits a rough patch every once in a while.
Providence’s record this month may not be very appealing, but they’re better than this and everyone knows it. The P-Bruins have arguably the best goaltending duo in the AHL, some great young defensemen, and a pretty balanced forward group. They’ve showed signs of getting over this skid in recent games and playing a full sixty minutes. When they do, they won’t be an easy team to fend off.
So, while Austin Czarnik, Head Coach Jay Leach, and Binnington head to Utica for the All-Star Classic next week, the rest of the P-Bruins need to regroup and play much better hockey down the stretch if they hope to go on another playoff run. It won’t be easy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unattainable, either.
Over their first five games of February, two will come against Hartford and two will come against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Both these teams have given Providence some trouble this season (and seemingly, every season). Getting off to a good start in February is crucial.
Again, it isn’t time to panic, not yet at least. Right now, the P-Bruins are still in striking distance of reclaiming first place and staying in the playoff race. However, if they want to get back to the top of the leader board, they need everyone to be on the same page and bear down in February.
On the other hand, if the P-Bruins don’t improve their play and fall even further back in the standings, accomplishing their goal of making the playoffs will probably be out of the picture.
The P-Bruins are good enough to go on a playoff run, but getting there is the first step. We’ll see if they have what it takes during the latter half of the season.