Monday, March 16, 2009

Providence Still Finding Their Way

November 18, 2008
by Thomas Chace Jr.

Who are these guys? They lost their top scorer; they lost perhaps the league’s best enforcer. Their head coach headed off to the NHL. What style of hockey are they playing? This Providence team is not like the team from a year ago when losses were few and far between.

On the weekend before last, the Providence Bruins took an unbelievable 141 shots on goal in three games and came away with only one win in three tries. They scored a total of only five goals. In the first game they were beaten by Chicago for the second time this season, in a rematch, on Providence’s home ice, 4-1. That was followed by a wild game in Albany where they were losing 3-1 with less than five minutes remaining. Goals by Brad Marchand, Martins Karsums, and an overtime game winner by Vladimir Sobotka preserved a 4-3 victory. Providence was helped by ten power play opportunities and outshot Albany 59-17. The last game over the weekend saw the Philadelphia Phantoms shut out the Bruins 2-0, as Scott Munroe preserved a Philly victory despite facing 46 shots. Head coach Rob Murray stated, “We did a lot of really good things, we got a lot of shots; the fact that we scored just one goal in our two home games was disappointing, but we’re doing the right things.”

This past weekend went much better from a point gathering perspective. Providence got eight goals on Friday night against division opponent Worcester, and won going away in the third period by an 8-3 margin. Commenting after last weekend’s shotfest, Coach Murray claimed that “you don’t know you’re going to get an eight goal performance, but you know it’s just a matter of time before the puck starts going in. We’re not doing everything right, but the effort is there, there was lot of good things we did last weekend despite the two losses, that you can take the positives out of. One of the positives obviously was that we were outshooting teams by a 3 to 1 or 2 to 1 margin.” A loss on the road to bitter rival Portland on Saturday night was not one of their better games. Providence did not generate enough offense and turnovers created opportunities for the first place Pirates. Portland is a very good team and very quick and Providence’s defense was taken advantage of most of the night. Portland, in first place, with only one loss all season, at the hands of Providence, has won nine games in a row. On Sunday back at home in Providence the Bruins were solid on their power play, scoring on three of seven opportunities. They showed great resiliency time after time throughout the back and forth affair. Ironically, the P-Bruins were outshot in all three games but won two out of three and gathered four of six points. Go figure. Certainly the more shots you take, the more opportunities you have. Spectacular goaltending can thwart those chances though.

Who are these guys? We don’t know yet. This team is still finding their own identity. Right now their leading scorer is a defenseman, Johnny Boychuk. The teams plus/minus is down from last year. They are a team in transition and each game has been a learning experience. One common thread, however, with last year’s team is the effort put forth by everyone in the organization. Effort and hard work usually result in victories as the season progresses.

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