Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Providence Wins Game 1 in Overtime

Providence Beats Worcester 3-2 in OT
April 29, 2009
by T.Chace Jr.

In what was an intense, hard hitting affair Tuesday night, the Providence Bruins have taken Game 1 of this best of seven series against the Worcester Sharks in the Atlantic Division Finals. Providence Bruin captain Jeremy Reich did it again, he scored his second game winning goal of the playoffs. Reich snapped a wrist shot over Worcester Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss's shoulder at 6:19 of overtime to give the B's a 1-0 series lead. The goal was unassisted and came after Providence played perhaps their best hockey of the night.

Head Coach Rob Murray stated "the overtime was probably the best string of minutes we played throughout the game, and it showed." In regards to Reich's offense, he said "his offensive skill is probably underrated, he's got a good shot and the time spent in the NHL helped, you hone your skills playing with better players and he is a much improved player."

The first period never started with a puck drop, as Bruins Jordan Knackstedt and Frazer McLaren were given unsportsmanlike conduct penalties at the start. At the 1:06 mark, during 4 on 4 play, Martin St. Pierre scored his second goal of the playoffs on an assist from Brad Marchand, to give Providence a 1-0 lead. That score held up to end the first period.

The second period's first goal was scored by Marchand on the power play, with assists to St. Pierre and Mikko Lehtonen at 5:55. Providence now led 2-0. Worcester fought back though, as P-Bruin killer Jamie McGinn, just returned from the parent San Jose Sharks, scored his first of two goals in the game at 12:55. Assists on McGinn's first playoff goal went to Dan DaSilva and defenseman Jason Demers. At the end of two periods it was 2-1 Providence.

The third period was dominated by Worcester, as the P-Bruins had trouble getting out of their own end. Solid goaltending by Tuukka Rask held the fort until McGinn scored again with just 5:21 left in regulation. With helpers from Demers and Ryan Vesce, the game was now tied at 2-2. McGinn, a rookie, had scored six goals against Providence during the regular season.

In overtime, it was all Providence. Reich scored his unassisted goal and the small but loud crowd went crazy. Worcester outshot Providence 37-27, and was 1 for 4 on the power play. Providence scored on 1 of 3 power play opportunities. Reich was named first star, followed by McGinn and Marchand.

The series now has a long break as both venues have previously scheduled events. For Providence it's the circus and for the Sharks they have a rodeo coming. Game 2 is next Wednesday May 6th in Worcester.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Providence To Face The Worcester Sharks

Second Round Opponent Sharks Are On Fire
April 26, 2009
by T. Chace

The Worcester Sharks came back from an 0-2 deficit and beat the favored Hartford Wolf Pack in four straight games to advance to the Atlantic Division Finals. It was Worcester's first playoff series victory in team history. The Sharks scored early and often in the last four games, outscoring Hartford 17-6. The series begins on Tuesday night in Providence then takes some strange turns, due to the circus being in town at "The Dunk."

The schedule is as follows:

Atlantic Division Finals – Best-of-7
Providence Bruins vs. Worcester Sharks
Game 1 – Tue., Apr. 28 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05
Game 2 – Wed., May 6 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
Game 3 – Fri., May 8 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05
Game 4 – Sat., May 9 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 5 – Mon., May 11 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05
*Game 6 – Wed., May 13 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 7 – Thu., May 14 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05

Friday, April 24, 2009

Providence Knocks Out Portland

Providence Wins 2-1 and Eliminates Portland
April 24, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

Much like the night before in Portland, the P-Bruins overcame a 1-0 deficit by scoring two goals in the second period and then holding on for a victory. The anemic Portland power play finally cashed in on a goal by Mike Kostka at the 10:25 mark to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Colton Fretter and Marc-Andre Gragnani recorded assists on Kostka's first goal in the series. Portland outshot the Bruins 14-12 in the period but netminder Tuukka Rask was up to the challenge and turned away some good opportunities.

The second period was dominated by Providence and a fourth line goal by Jordan Knackstedt beat Jhonas Enroth at 5:46 of the period to tie the game at 1-1. Dan Ryder and Ned Lukacevic assisted on the first goal of the playoffs for Knackstedt. With just 45 seconds left in the second period veteran Peter Schaefer scored what proved to be the game winner with assists given to rookie Mikko Lehtonen and d-man David Kolomatis. The power play goal was scored with the Pirate's Gragnani serving an ill advised slashing penalty, which was called while his team was on a power play.
Providence outshot Portland 17-7 and now led 2-1 after two periods of play. The same scenario took place on Thursday night, two late goals by Providence after Portland took the lead in the first period.

The third period saw Providence take two penalties early but Rask held the Pirate's at bay and the Bruins held on for the victory. Providence Head Coach Rob Murray got his first series victory and was quite pleased with his team's effort. "We've got a good group here, they know there's potential for us to do something good." The Bruins shut down Portland's high powered offense and were able to score enough goals on the Pirate's tremendous goaltender, Jhonas Enroth, who was named a star of the game for the fourth time in five games. As good as Enroth was, Rask was better. Rask was the number one star for the second consecutive game and was named a star in all five contests. Murray stated that Rask is peeking at the right time, "Tuukka is definitely right on his game and Enroth, I've gotta believe that's as good as he's played all season. That was a superb effort by both goaltenders and both goalies should be commended for it."

Schaefer was chosen as the second star tonight and Enroth was the third star. Providence outshot Portland 38-30, and was 1 for 5 on the power play. Portland scored their first power play goal of the series tonight and was 1 for 4 for the game. Providence now awaits the winner of the Hartford/Worcester series.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Providence Wins Again in Portland

Providence Beats Portland 2-1
April 23, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

In a tight battle, the Providence Bruins beat the Portland Pirates at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine on Thursday night 2-1. The Bruins victory puts them up three games to one as they head to "The Dunk" tomorrow night for game 5, a Providence victory will eliminate their bitter rival.

After squandering their first power play opportunity, Portland scored their only goal of the night at 11:55 of the first period. Mark Mancari scored his first goal of the series with assists to Marek Zagrapan and Tim Kennedy. Portland is now 0 for 14 on the power play in this series. Their two leading regular season goal scorers, Martin Gerbe and Mathieu Darche, have zero points between them. 24 goal scorer, Colton Fretter has also been shut down offensively by the stingy P-Bruins. A penalty shot by Colin Murphy was thwarted at the 17:50 mark, on a big stop by Bruin goaltender Tuukka Rask. Rask was named the number one star of the game.

The second period began with a great save by Rask five minutes into the period. Two consecutive power plays for Providence led to numerous shots, but Pirate netminder, Jhonas Enroth was up to the task and stopped all the Bruin's chances. At the 17:13 mark, the Bruins got a good bounce as Johnny Boychuk's shot was tipped in by Brad Marchand, who netted his second goal of the series. An assist was also credited to Martin St. Pierre. That tied the game at 1-1 and was followed two minutes and thirty seconds later with a top shelf goal by Bruin right winger Kirk MacDonald. His first goal of the series was assisted by captain Jeremy Reich and center Wacey Rabbit. That goal put the Bruins into the dressing room up 2-1 and gave them their first lead of the night. A lead they would not relinquish.

Third period action was filled with very tight checking and solid goaltending on both sides. An ill advised cross checking penalty to Providence's Rabbit with about five minutes remaing made for some anxious moments, but no tying goal. Providence outshot the Pirates for the third game in a row, 37-32. The Bruins were 0 for 3 on the power play and the Pirates were 0 for 2. As mentioned, Rask was the number one star, Enroth number two, and MacDonald was number three. The teams meet in game 5 tomorrow night at "The Dunk" in Providence, a Bruin win eliminates the Pirates.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Providence Smokes Portland 5-1

Bruins Take Series Lead
April 19, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

The Providence Bruins outscored their rival Portland Pirates on Sunday afternoon 5-1 in Portland at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The Bruins came out in the first period as they have all series with an offensive flurry that resulted in a Martin St. Pierre goal at 13:58, assisted by linemate Brad Marchand. It was St. Pierre's first playoff goal. Providence outshot the Pirates 18-8 in the period and led 1-0.

In the second period, the roles were reversed. Just 59 seconds into the period, the Bruin's St. Pierre set up Marchand for a one timer that beat netminder Jhonas Enroth, for his first goal of the series. Providence then dug a hole for themselves with penalties to Adam McQuaid, for roughing, and Ryan Stokes for delay of game, giving Portland a five on three advantage for nearly two full minutes. A penalty on Portland's Tim Kennedy still left them down one man. The Bruins however, not only killed the penalties but scored a shorthanded goal. At the 3:16 mark, Vladimir Sobotka scored his second post season goal on a pass from Johnny Boychuk, who had stolen the puck along the boards and found Sobotka in the slot. The Bruins were not done. At 7:33, Boychuk scored on a blast from the top of the face-off circle beating Enroth on the glove side while on a power play with assists to Sobotka and St. Pierre. Enroth was replaced with Kellen Briggs after the Bruins opened up a 4-0 lead. A wild melee at the 13:51 mark resulted in 46 penalty minutes being called. Portland's Kenny MacAulay was given a 10 minute misconduct for abuse of officials while Kyle Rank received the 17 minute instigating package.

The third period began with a Pirate penalty leading to another power play goal by Johnny Boychuk, as he scored his second goal of the game on another blast from the point to beat Briggs for a 5-0 lead. Once again, Sobotka was involved in the scoring with another assist along with Jeff Penner. A shutout by Bruin's Tuukka Rask was ruined by a goal by Derek Whitmore on a wrist shot off of his shoulder with 8:03 left in the game. Assists were picked up by MacAuley and Felix Schutz. After the game, Sobotka was named the number one star, Boychuk number two and Rask was the third star. Providence outshot Portland 44-26, that is the most shots Portland has allowed in the 2008-09 season. Providence was 2 for 6 on the power play while Portland went 0 for 6. Game 4 is at Portland on Thursday April 23rd and then back to Providence for Friday April 24th.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Providence Ties Series

Providence Wins 2-1, Ties Series
April 18, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

The Providence Bruins defeated their nemesis, the Portland Pirates Friday night 2-1 to even their series at a game apiece, before a raucus Dunkin' Donuts Center crowd. Providence was able to crank up the offense and finally beat Pirate goalie Jhonas Enroth when Vladimir Sobotka was able to slip one by the outstanding netminder at 2:01 of period two. A clear in off the boards by defenseman Johnny Boychuk was grabbed by Brad Marchand who found Sobotka in front of the net. That was the P-Bruins first goal of the series and that goal held up until Tyler Bouck scored a shorthanded goal at 3:33 in the third period. Bouck was set up by an assist from Derek Whitmore.

The game featured up and down action with both Enroth and Bruin goaltender Tuukka Rask denying numerous scoring opportunities. At the 10:23 mark of the third period, Providence captain Jeremy Reich scored from outside the faceoff circle on a blast that looked like it beat Enroth over his left shoulder. It was Reich's first playoff goal ever as a Providence Bruin, it proved to be the game winner. His goal came with assists to linemate Wacey Rabbit and d-man Adam McQuaid. Providence was 0 for 5 on the power play and Portland was also scoreless on the power play going 0 for 6. Reich was named the first star, Rask was the second star, and Enroth who faced 40 shots was superb and was named the third star of the game. Game 3 is Sunday night in Portland followed by Game 4 on Thursday April 23rd also in Portland. There will be a Game 5 back at the Dunk on Friday April 24th.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Portland Stymies Providence

Portland Goes Up 1-0 In Series
April 16, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

Home ice advantage just went down the runway. It's an old rivalry with a twist this year. Providence has usually gotten the early jump on their Maine rivals in season's past, but not this year. These two teams have played four times in the Calder Cup playoffs, Portland has eliminated Providence in both 2004, 2006 and most recently in last years 2008 series, despite spotting them a two game series lead. Providence tends to gain series leads only to have Portland come back and win series.

Last night Portland came away with a 3-0 victory on Providence's home ice at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. Portland weathered an early blitz by Providence, in which the Bruins hit a post and couldn't capitalize on several other opportunities. A Providence goal early in the period might have made for a different outcome. Providence head coach Rob Murray stated as such "I thought with a little bit of luck early on, the game would have been a different scenario. If we capitalized on those early chances, maybe it's a different outcome." Portland's Marek Zagrapan tipped one home for Portland at the 4:23 mark to get the series first goal and a 1-0 lead for the Pirates. A bizarre, unexpected fight occured about a minute later between Providence's Ned Lukacevic and Portland's Kyle Rank. Bizarre and unexpected because Lukacevic had only six penalty minutes all season while Rank totalled a whopping sixteen. It was over as fast as it started and really had no influence on the game. The biggest hit of the period was issued by Bruin rookie Brad Marchand after he came out of the penalty box he clocked an unsuspecting Pirate. Providence outshot Portland 15-11 and was also denied on two power play opportunites in the period.

The second period was a lesson in defensive positional play for Portland, as they limited the Bruins to six shots and little if any sustained offensive pressure. Murray said "we didn't generate much speed through the neutral zone all night, we were almost standing around in the neutral zone. Rushing up ice is a big part of our game and it got worse as the game went on." Providence also failed to capitalize on a hooking call on the Pirate's Paul Baier late in the period. Another huge hit occurred in the second period when Bruin veteran Peter Schaefer blasted a Pirate in the Portland end. Tuukka Rask made several big saves to keep the game at 1-0 through two periods.

The third period was much like the second as Portland trapped and clogged any breakouts for the Bruins. Felix Schultz scored on a fluke goal that Bruin defenseman Johnny Boychuk banked into his own net off his defensive partner Jeff Penner. Portland's Zagrapan netted his second goal of the game later on an empty net goal with :58 left to win Game 1 by the score of 3-0.

Coach Murray did not expect the series to be a four game series and now the Bruins need to win on the road to stay alive. Murray said "nowhere in my mind did I think it's going to be a four game sweep by either team. We're gonna have to win a game on the road here, and that's the bottom line. Throughout the playoffs you're going to have to win road games." So maybe this Providence team is better suited to battle back as opposed to holding off the Pirates. Friday's game will be interesting. How will Providence react to being frustrated in their own building in Game 1. An early Providence goal could turn the series around again.

* Portland goalie Jhonas Enroth was 1st Star of the Game
* Marek Zagrapan - 2nd Star
* Tuukka Rask - 3rd Star
* I sat next to AHL President David Andrews in the press box who stated " this popcorn in Providence is the saltiest in the league." - I agreed

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

PLAYOFFS :Providence Bruins vs. Portland Pirates

Providence vs. Portland - Round 1
April 14, 2009
by T. Chace Jr.

Well, Portland unceremoniously knocked out the Providence Bruins right there in the Dunkin Donuts Center last year, so it seems fitting to pay back the Pirates in this years playoffs. Providence with its second place finish has the home ice advantage, and unlike last year they will not play three in a row at Portland after playing the first two at home. They will alternate games 5-7.

Here's the schedule:
Game 1 - Wednesday April 15 - 7:00 @ Providence
Game 2 - Friday April 17 - 7:00 @ Providence
Game 3 - Sunday April 19 - 7:00 @ Portland
Game 4 - Thursday April 23 - 7:00 @ Portland
Game 5 - Friday April 24 - 7:00 @ Providence (if necessary)
Game 6 - Sunday April 26 - 7:00 @ Portland (if necessary)
Game 7 - Tuesday April 28 - 7:00 @ Providence (if necessary)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Congratulations To Providence's Johnny Boychuck

NEWS From AHL Official Website -
04/03/2009 12:00 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Johnny Boychuk of the Providence Bruins has been named the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman for the 2008-09 season, as voted by AHL coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 29 cities.

Boychuk, a fifth-year pro in his first season in the Boston Bruins organization, currently leads all AHL defensemen with 20 goals, 43 assists and 63 points (a Providence franchise record for a blueliner) and has registered a plus-21 rating while playing in 73 of the club’s first 74 games. Boychuk’s five game-winning goals are also tops among AHL rearguards, and he has either scored or assisted on 34 of his team’s 59 power-play goals on the season (57.6 percent). Boychuk has also been credited with 273 shots on goal, already the most by an AHL defenseman since 2002.

A 25-year-old native of Edmonton, Alta., Boychuk was a second-round draft choice by Colorado in 2002 and was acquired by Boston from the Avalanche on June 24, 2008. He began the 2008-09 season with a six-game scoring streak, including a goal in his Providence debut on Oct. 8. Boychuk was voted into the starting lineup for the Canadian team at the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic, was a co-winner of the CCM/AHL Player of the Month award for March, and was named a First Team AHL All-Star earlier this week. Boychuk has totaled 47 goals and 117 assists for 164 points in 367 career AHL games and has also skated in five NHL contests, including one this season with Boston.

This award, which was first presented by the AHL in 1959, honors the late Eddie Shore, a member of the Hockey Hall of Famer and the American Hockey League Hall of Fame widely regarded as one of hockey’s greatest defensemen. Shore won a total of five Calder Cups in his career, including two as the general manager of the Buffalo Bisons and three as the longtime owner of the Springfield Indians. Previous winners include Steve Kraftcheck (1959), Al Arbour (1965), Noel Price (1970, ’72, ’76), Brian Engblom (1977), Terry Murray (1978, ’79), Brad Shaw (1987), Dave Fenyves (1988, ’89), Eric Weinrich (1990), Darren Rumble (1997), John Slaney (2001, ’02), Curtis Murphy (2003, ’04), Niklas Kronwall (2005), Sheldon Brookbank (2007) and Andrew Hutchinson (2008).