Reformulated Providence Team Is Winning
by T. Chace Jr.
March 7, 2011
February was not a kind month for New Englanders, with bitter cold temperatures and snow forecasted almost daily. The Providence Bruins found February to be a miserable month as well. Winning just four games during a grueling 14 game schedule, the P-Bruins had half of their team replaced or restocked with new additions through trades and ECHL call-ups during the month.
The Providence parent club, the Boston Bruins, made several trades to better themselves for a playoff run and Providence was affected dramatically. Gone is Joe Colbourne, a Bruins 1st round pick in 2008. Colbourne was one of the top goal scorers for Providence and his game was improving. Colbourne was dealt to Toronto to obtain Toronto defenseman, Tomas Kablerle, a long coveted power play specialist that Boston has been after for several years.
On the same day, Boston traded Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for forward Rich Peverley and 6’7” giant defenseman Boris Valabik. Valabik was assigned to Providence and has played in seven games and has two assists and two fights.
About a week later, disgruntled enforcer Brian McGrattan and defenseman Sean Zimmerman were dealt to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward David Laliberte and natural center Stefan Chaput. Laliberte has played in only two games but has tallied a goal and an assist already. Chaput has scored a goal in one of his two games played.
The biggest move took place on the day of the trade deadline. Providence’s defenseman Jeff Penner and the rights to Euro Mikko Lehtonen were moved to Minnesota for 24 year-old goaltender Anton Khudobin. Khudobin has played in two games and has won them both including a shutout of Bridgeport yesterday. Khudobin had a 19-12-1 record with a 2.58 GAA with Houston. He has played three NHL games, winning two, including a shutout of the Vancouver Canucks in January of this year.
Before the start of the weekend games, Matt Bartkowski was recalled by Boston and it was determined that Nate McIver would be out with a broken right hand suffered in a fight last week. McIver has had 26 fighting majors for Providence, ranking 3rd in the AHL. Providence recalled Ryan Donald and Alain Goulet from Reading in the ECHL.
Despite all the turmoil, the Providence club has won two games in a row with their new team. Captain Trent Whitfield, who scored four goals in the last two games, knows the road ahead to make the playoffs is daunting. “Obviously, we know our backs are against the wall, we’ve got some new faces, and hopefully some new energy. Those guys came in and are playing really solid games; it’s one game at a time now. We can’t have a game off now; we need to be sharp every game and try and work our way up the standings.”
Head Coach Rob Murray stated, “We’ve had a huge turnover of players and little time to practice, but the core guys are still here. We’ve had a little rest, but February was just brutal.”
The Bruins have been in a pattern of playing well every other month; they need March and early April to be their best played months of the season. Time will tell.