Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins @ Portland Pirates

Opening draw
It’s a rapid rematch Saturday night as the Providence Bruins visit the Portland Pirates six days after claiming a 3-2 shootout decision back home at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

Portland has since occupied itself with the Manchester Monarchs on Wednesday and the Adirondack Phantoms on Friday, winning and losing 5-3 and 3-0 decisions, respectively. The P-Bruins will entertain the finale of the Pirates’ three-game homestand at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Notable names
Two days after factoring into all five of the Pirates’ goals against Manchester, Andy Miele was summoned to the parent Phoenix Coyotes.

Ryan Duncan inserted the game-clincher on Wednesday and then led all participating skaters with eight shots on goal in Friday’s loss. Each of his bids was repelled by seasoned AHL and NHL stopper Michael Leighton.

In Miele’s absence, Duncan is presently the Pirates’ top point-getter with a 2-3-5 log through five games. He is tied with Nathan Oystrick for the team lead with 20 shots on goal. Oystrick matched Miele’s two-goal output against the Monarchs, both of his strikes coming on the power play.

At 1-2-0, goaltender Curtis McElhinney has taken the albatross in both of the team’s losses. Justin Pogge remains technically undefeated at 1-0-1, though he spilled the extra point against the P-Bruins last weekend.

Tyler Eckford and Brett Hextall are the lone two Portland skaters with a positive rating at plus-2 apiece. Meanwhile, recently reassigned defenseman Matt Bartkowski stands alone in the black for the P-Bruins after posting a crucial assist and a plus-1 rating in his AHL season debut Friday night.

Bartkowski charged up a goal and three assists in 12 encounters with the Pirates last season, though none of those points were cultivated in any of the last six Providence-Portland tilts.

Pirates’ penalty minute leader Ryan Hollweg has fought once in each of the last two games, against Manchester’s Nick Deslauriers and Adirondack’s Ben Holmstrom, respectively.

So far, the P-Bruins and their parents from Boston are a combined 3-0-0 in games played on Saturdays this season. Providence will try to simultaneously improve upon its 1-0 record on Saturday and on the road after last weekend’s 4-1 triumph at Springfield.