October 16, 2013
Thomas Chace Jr.
With just four games played and a couple of wins it’s no time for Providence Bruins fans to cast too much judgment on this year’s team. The one home game they played on Friday October 11th did not end well, as the B’s gave away a two goal lead and were beaten in a shootout by the Manchester Monarchs. The season is long and there are many young players on the roster that will be learning along the way about the professional style of play in the AHL.
The current roster for Providence includes just seven players that were born in the 1980’s. Defenseman, Mike Moore, will be 29 years old in December and is the elder statesman of the group. Injured forward, Bobby Robins is 31 years old, but is recuperating from a knee injury suffered in an exhibition game vs. the Washington Capitals in September and as of yet has no return date.
One of Boston’s last assignments to Providence after training camp was 27 year old Nick Johnson, who has picked up where he left off in Boston, tallying 3 goals and an assist in their four contests so far. No one else on the team was born before 1985.
Most of the team is 23 years old or younger and will have to learn to adjust to the AHL’s weekend heavy series of games and what to do on their own, during the week when meetings and practices conclude. It’s an adjustment for anyone in that age group, but to play a professional game with men takes some getting used to.
The Boston Bruins philosophy of how to play the game filters through all their levels of play in the minor leagues. Many times during the season a player from Providence seemingly fits seamlessly into the Boston line-up while filling in for an injury or as a reward for solid two-way play in Providence.
The biggest job asked of the Providence Bruins is to develop players for the big club in Boston and hopefully win along the way. Last year that happened in big fashion. Providence finished with a flurry and got to the Conference Semi-finals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins where they took a 3-0 lead in their best of seven series. However, after Game 2, both defensemen, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug, were now summoned to Boston for their playoff run. Leaving Providence with no blue line scoring and facing a hot goalie, the P-Bruins caved and eventually lost in seven games to the Pens. The team lost and it was heartbreaking but the big picture showed Providence coaches and staff getting it done in preparing the players for Boston. Bartkowski and Krug are both integral parts of the Boston defensive corps today.
Ryan Spooner, due to his position at center was a tough cut for the Boston club. He played well enough on offense but needs to work better along the wall and be stronger on his stick. Battling for a job with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Chris Kelly and Greg Campbell was a no win situation for Spooner. His future is bright because he is such a great skater. Forwards, Nick Johnson, Matt Lindblad, and Craig Cunningham battled to the end of Boston’s camp and should excel in Providence.
On the defensive side, Zach Trotman, Tommy Cross, Joe Morrow, Kevan Miller, Chris Casto, Mike Moore, and David Warsofsky anchor a strong defense. Warsofsky was expected to improve to the point that he would get the recall to Boston last year but he watched Krug skate past him into the Boston line-up. Mike Moore, a Princeton graduate, is the veteran as mentioned earlier, who is a solid d-man and unafraid to drop the gloves when needed. Miller was essentially the 8th defenseman in Boston’s camp and plays a style like Adam McQuaid. He played over 60 games last year for Providence and along with the other Providence defensemen has good size and understands the Bruins systems.
Jared Knight was injured most of last year but is in great shape this season and it shows already. Knight, a left wing, has already scored two goals and is playing a solid game thus far. Younger players like Russian Alexander Khokhlachev, rookies Seth Griffith, Alexander Fallstrom, Anthony Camara, and Justin Florek are expected to improve on last year or gain knowledge this year to give them a chance down the road to see NHL action.
Carter Camper, Rob Flick, Matt Fraser and enforcers Bobby Robins and Tyler Randell round out a very young club in Providence which is ultimately backed up by two stalwart goaltenders in Niklas Svedberg and rookie Malcolm Subban. Thus far Svedberg has played in three of the four games and playing time as always in Providence is based on how the week goes in regards to practice, preparation, and attitude.
Scoring looks like it should be balanced among several lines; the defense appears to be pretty solid but lacks the offensive creativity Bartkowski and Krug provided. Warsofsky and others need to step up their games in that regard. Toughness is covered by Moore, Randell, Flick, and Robins. The Providence Bruins are capable of playing several styles of hockey but they all involve a work ethic and a philosophy developed by the Boston brass and carried out by Head Coach Bruce Cassidy and Asst. Coach Kevin Dean.
Make no mistake; these young guys have much to learn about professional hockey and playing against grown men but the blueprint is written. Keep learning, take direction, and follow instructions and you’ll get a chance like Krug and all those before him, who got to wear the spoked “B”.