February 25, 2008
By Thomas Chace Jr.
The Providence Bruins, the American Hockey League’s best team so far this year, are about to embark on a fast and furious road odyssey. They will be playing five games in six nights far away from their home rink in Rhode Island. On Thursday the P-B’s will fly into Milwaukee and face the Admirals on their home ice on Friday night. They will then bus to Rockford to play the IceHogs on Saturday night and then head off to the red hot Western Conference leading Chicago Wolves Allstate Arena for a Sunday afternoon showdown of the top two teams in the AHL. A flight to Houston follows with a game on Tuesday night against the Aeros and finally, on Wednesday, they finish their trip at San Antonio as they face the Rampage for the first time this year. The Bruins have already beaten Rockford, Chicago, Houston and Milwaukee back in Providence, so those teams will certainly be looking for payback. In regard to the Bruin’s opponents they’ll face on the road trip, Assistant Coach Rob Murray said “We have played them, all these teams, except San Antonio, this will be our first look at San Antonio…We’ve got a really good road record; there’s no reason to think that we won’t play well…We are 18-6 on the road.” They are now actually 20-6 thanks to two victories last weekend over Atlantic Division rivals Hartford and Springfield.
When Providence returns home from their frenetic road trip they will have no time to rest. They have three more games in three nights, a grand total of eight games in ten days. Will Providence be able to hold it together physically and mentally? Will they still lead the league in points in the race for home ice throughout the playoffs? Will Hartford make another run at them in the division race? What about the trade deadline deals, will they positively influence this young close knit group? Providence is having a tremendous season, a great group of young talent that has made winning a habit. They will surely be tested over the next two weeks. When they return to Providence, they will have nineteen games remaining; eleven will be at home in the Dunkin Donuts Center. I’m sure, to a man, they would like to go west one more time, at the very end of this special Providence Bruin season, in the Calder Cup finals. Stay tuned for previews.