Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Finish Line: Providence Bruins on the Brink

The Finish Line
Bruins Need to Convert Chances
May 22, 2013
Thomas R. Chace Jr.

On January 7, 2013 I wrote an article titled “Not Finishing, Proving Costly to Providence”.   As Game 7 of the AHL Eastern Conference Semi-Finals approaches tonight I am drawn back to that portion of the season, in which the Bruins would have chances but couldn’t score.

Providence Head Coach Bruce Cassidy would exclaim after a tough January loss, “We’ve had trouble finishing all year, that’s nothing new”.

Fast forward to tonight and the final hockey game for one of these fine AHL clubs.  The Providence Bruins dominated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on home ice at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Monday night in Game 6.  WBS won the game in overtime getting more shots in OT than they did in the whole 3rd period.  The Penguins didn’t have a shot on net in the 3rd period until the 11:00 mark.  The star of the game was  Penguins goaltender, Brad Thiessen, who made 46 saves to steal the victory and force a final showdown tonight. 

Thiessen,  entered the series following the 1st period of Game 2 back on May 11th and has allowed a total of 4 goals in 4.67 games.  The back-up netminder, replaced arguably the league’s best goaltender, Jeff Zatkoff, after he allowed 12 goals in 1.23 games played.  Providence blew out WBS 8-5 and 4-2 to take a 2-0 series lead after two home games.  The Bruins took a commanding 3-0 series lead by winning in OT on a Carter Camper goal on Wednesday May 15th, a 2-1 OT win WBS.  Thiessen has since shut the door on the Bruins.

Before arriving in Providence, according to winger Steve MacIntyre,  the team watched the 2004 Red Sox DVD , featuring one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.  The Red Sox, were of course, down 3 games to none  against the Yankees, yet won the series in dramatic fashion.  The Penguins are riding that  great wave right now and they feel it is within their reach.

Thiessen has faced 109 shots in the last three games and allowed just 2 goals.  Following 3-1 and 4-0 losses to the Pens in WBS, the Bruins hoped to end the series at home.  Despite outplaying and outshooting the Pens 47-18, the Bruins now face an even more formidable foe. 

After the Game 6 loss,  when asked if Thiessen was in the Bruins heads, Cassidy replied,  “It might have been before the game, to be honest, the guy’s played pretty well.  By the same token, we’re missing open nets.  At some point you ‘ve got to put the puck in the net.  You gotta finish, you gotta finish goals.  We have got to finish better, plain and simple”. 

How do you beat Thiessen at this point?  “Up high, we’ve got to get some rebounds up high.  For some reason we’re not elevating the puck right now.  It’s easy from the bench”, Cassidy explained. 

“Now we have to finish, it’s up to us, if we do, we move on, if we don’t…….”  - HC Bruce Cassidy.

This Providence team has done it the hard way all season and heading into a Game 7 with a Penguins squad  that is very similar to them should not be too surprising.  Can the Bruins finish their scoring chances like they did after January or will they be just finished?

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