December 27, 2008
by Thomas Chace Jr.
The purpose of this franchise is to develop players in a system that will allow them to perform seamlessly when and if the parent club, the Boston Bruins, suffer injuries or need players to fill in voids on their NHL roster. That being said, this Providence team has performed above and beyond what could have been expected of them thus far. The fact that they also lead the Atlantic Division is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the whole Providence organization. The Boston Bruins are the top team in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, and Providence has undoubtedly helped them get there. Start with the call up of defenseman Matt Hunwick, who is now one of Boston’s top four defensemen. Follow that with successive recalls of defenseman Matt Lashoff and Johnny Boychuk, forwards Vladimir Sobotka, Martins Karsums, and most recently Marty St. Pierre. Boychuk and Karsums have since been returned to Providence and are scoring at a feverish pace. The call ups have also had a positive impact on other players who have stepped up their game and are now contributing in the scoring department. Mikko Lehtonen, Wacey Rabbit, and NHL veterans, Jeremy Reich and Peter Schaefer are starting to carry the load. Defensively, rookie Jeff Penner has made huge strides since opening night.
Both Bruins franchises would not be having their success without their greatest asset right now, goaltending. Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez have provided the best goaltending tandem in the NHL. Waiting in the wings is 21 year old Finnish sensation, Tuuka Rask, who is off to a great sophomore season. His GAA is near the top of the AHL, despite playing in at least seven more games than those ahead of him. His three shutouts are already a personal best in the regular season. Asked to take on a leadership role by head coach Rob Murray, he has held up his end of the request with his positive attitude, work ethic, and stellar play.
With the new year approaching and teams on their tail, the Providence Bruins have found success in the standings and more importantly are fulfilling their purpose. This Providence team recognizes that when Boston comes calling, they have the tools and direction to be successful in the show.