Oy vey. Does post-Stanley Cup hangover affect Black Aces, too? And is it contagious?
If so, then younger, underdeveloped AHL hockey players may be an even higher-risk group than their NHL parents.
Such is suggested by the crash course of the Providence Bruins, who dropped to 0-3-0 on Friday with an egregious 7-1 loss to the Manchester Monarchs at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
All 18 skaters finished in the red under the plus/minus heading while starting stopper Anton Khudobin did not make it to the second intermission as the P-Bruins finished their season-opening homestand having been outscored, 15-3.
The Monarchs spiked a quick 8-0 advantage in the shooting gallery, not letting the P-Bruins pester goaltender Martin Jones until the 7:21 mark. And starting at 2:41 and continuing for the better part of the next seven minutes, Manchester had more goals than Providence had shots altogether.
David Meckler got the better of Khudobin on his team’s fourth registered stab at 2:41. The shots read a 9-1 advantage for the visitors when Richard Clune augmented the scoring difference to 2-0 at 7:58.
Providence perked up for the second half of the opening stanza with two seasoned newcomers collaborating en route to their first points in Black and Gold. Josh Hennessy converted Jamie Tardif’s setup for a power-play goal with 10:03 gone.
The Monarchs, however, retorted as soon as they were invited. Providence captain Trent Whitfield (tripping) watched from the bin as Justin Azevedo slugged home his own 5-on-4 strike.
Khudobin was forked out at 13:15 of the middle frame, at which point blueliner Slava Voynov had submitted a shorthanded strike and Clune inserted his second goal of the game. Stand-in Karel St. Laurent would errantly boot in his third shot-faced at 19:40, granting Azevedo his own two-goal outing and the Monarchs a gaping, 6-1 edge after 40 minutes.
Manchester point patroller David Kolomatis, who had assisted on his team’s second and third strike, granted himself and Clune a three-point night when he sent home Linden Vey’s feed to finalize the 7-1 upshot at 5:56 of the closing frame.
Within the last 11 minutes of the opening frame, after Manchester had taken its 2-0 edge, the P-Bruins perked up to go on a 10-6 run in the shooting gallery. Nine different puckslingers partook in that sugar rush when, in their previous two games, the Bruins were hard-pressed to come within smelling distance of double-digits shots in a full 20-minute stanza.
The defense was more involved on the offensive front on Friday, taking credit for 10 of the team’s 30 total SOG. Colby Cohen tied Hennessy for a team-high five stabs at Monarchs goalie Martin Jones.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy waited far too long to utilize his timeout. He waited until the 13:15 mark of the middle frame, when it was a glowering 5-1 deficit.
Considering the tone the Monarchs had set with a gaping shot differential and two early strikes, 7:58 into the opening frame would have been a perfectly logical time to stop the bleeding. Instead, Cassidy waited until the residual scars had long dried.
Hennessy’s conversion and other attempts aside, the P-Bruins failed to cash in on their superior discipline. Despite earning seven power plays while giving Manchester only two, the Baby Bs surrendered the aforementioned shortie and later gave the perilous Marc-Andre Cliche a shorthanded breakaway in the third.
Rookie Zach McKelvie had the dreariest of debuts on an unripe blue line brigade. He was on the ice for four out of five even-strength goals, amounting to a minus-4 rating on the night. Partner and fellow freshman Marc Cantin was a minus-3.
Clune earned the Gordie Howe Hat Trick with his two goals, the secondary assist on Kolomatis’ brownie biscuit in the third and a fight with Bruins blueliner Kevan Miller with 12:15 gone in the opening frame.
Extraordinarily, despite taking a team-high five shots on goal, Cliche did not factor into any of the scoring and was the only Monarch not to add any points to his plus/minus. Looks like Manchester has more than a little depth to work with this season.
Clune and Azevedo both singlehandedly outscored Providence with two goals apiece and claimed the top two stars of the game. Kolomatis claimed the title of third star.
A troika of rookies, defenseman Ryan Button along with forwards Carter Camper and Tyler Randell, were all scratched for the first time this season.
St. Laurent was promptly summoned from ECHL Reading prior to the game when backup goalie Michael Hutchinson sustained an undisclosed injury.