Monday, April 19, 2010

Providence Bruins: A Season of Inconsistency

Providence Wrap-up
April 19, 2010
By T.Chace Jr.

It feels to me like Providence’s season is still going, with so many graduates of the team still playing; only now they are in an NHL playoff battle against the Buffalo Sabres. The Providence Bruins season has been officially over for more than a week but many skaters are still on the ice.

All season long the Providence to Boston shuffle wore the tires off several vehicles. Head Coach Rob Murray of Providence had to deal with new players on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. The lack of consistency has been the single biggest factor that allowed Providence to miss the playoffs for only the third time in their 18 year history. The team also shared something in common with Boston, the lack of goal scoring. Not a great trait to be sharing. The lack of scorers on both teams will need to be addressed before the 2010-11 season begins. Only five teams in the AHL scored fewer goals than Providence this season. Leading scorer Mikko Lehtonen finished with 23 goals and 50 points. The second leading scorer was Captain Trent Whitfield who only played in 52 games for Providence yet scored 17 goals and had 43 points. The team had many first year professionals and other young players who needed players to question and learn from, but too many were filling in up in Boston. Players like Vladimir Sobotka, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk, and Whitfield all began the year in Providence and knew their way around the city, familiar with the system; they were teachers who got promotions. The rest of the team’s veterans were either injured or inconsistent most of the season.

On the bright side, many young players who were not expected to contribute or even play on the AHL level have now gained valuable experience that they normally would not have gotten. That certainly bodes well for the future. Players in their early twenties like Yannick Riendeau, Maxime Sauve, Joe Colborne, Lane MacDermid, Zach Hamill, Jamie Arniel, Levi Nelson, Alain Goulet, and Jordan Knackstedt all should be able to be more consistent night in and night out next year.

The PBruins record was just under .500, and that mirrored the season. Two winning streaks of five and four games was coupled with losses of six of seven, five of six, and six straight at various points during the season. The goaltending by Dany Sabourin and Kevin Regan was for the most part the most consistent part of the team. Defensive breakdowns were to blame for many of the goals scored against. The loss of McQuaid and Boychuk could not be made up by the d-men Providence suited up all year.

The coaching staff did everything they could to get the most out of the team, but no goals and a shuffling lineup, made their task arduous in 2009-10. I expect Providence to be back with a vengeance next season; in the meantime I can watch the graduates as they gain valuable experience at the NHL level.

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