Thursday, January 14, 2010

Providence Bruins Season Half Over

Halfway To Where
by T.Chace Jr.
January 12, 2010

The halfway point in the regular season occurred last weekend in Worcester for the Providence Bruins and their pursuit of the Calder Cup in their 18th year in the American Hockey League. The 2009-10 season has been a series of ups & downs in both player movement and wins and losses.

Since last season Providence has developed several players who will not be returning any time soon including Byron Bitz, Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, Matt Hunwick, Johnny Boychuck, and Vladimir Sobotka. All have been playing substantial NHL minutes with the parent club in Boston.

Providence has also lost the services of Brad Marchand, Trent Whitfield, Guillaume Lefebvre, Mikko Lehtonen, Adam McQuaid, and Andy Wozniewski on call-ups by the Boston Bruins throughout the season.

Marchand who is the only Providence player to average nearly a point a game has been sidelined with a torn tendon in his foot after having his foot skated over in a freak injury in mid-December. He was expected to miss 6-8 weeks of play. Many other veteran and young players have been given professional try-outs (PTO) this season but nothing has panned out with great success. Recently returning from injury was QMJHL scoring champion, Yannick Riendeau. Riendeau captured an assist in his first professional game against Springfield on December 29th. Head coach, Rob Murray stated that “he’s on the power play, and that’s where he’ll be successful. The fans can’t expect miracles out of this kid. He’s gonna be a good player, but you’ve got to be patient with him. It’s his first professional game; no exhibition games, no training camp, no anything and these games are more difficult after Christmas.”

The Bruins are having horrible difficulty scoring goals. Their leading scorer, Mikko Lehtonen, has just 30 points, including 11 goals to lead the team. Their total of 101 goals is second to last in the Eastern Conference only ahead of the Adirondack Phantoms, whom they defeated at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Friday, January 8th, 3-1. Through 41 games the Providence Bruins have 40 points, including nearly identical home and road records, a true reflection of their season. Their season’s longest winning streak of five games was followed by Marchland’s injury and losing their next six of seven contests. However, they are in almost every game, with solid goaltending provided by NHL veteran Dany Sabourin. Sabourin has logged the fourth most minutes played and is second in the AHL in saves. With one shutout and a 2.52 GAA, Sabourin has limited the opposition, allowing Providence to keep it close throughout the season.

The Bruins are without an identity and also very young, as they hope to gain confidence as the second half of the season begins. With the addition of Riendeau and a healthy Brad Marchand, the Bruins could see a bump in their scoring, but will it be enough? They are halfway there, but where are they going? That’s the question for this team.

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