Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins @ Springfield Falcons

Opening draw
In the midst of falling back into old patterns and getting off to another acrid October, the Providence Bruins can thirst after continuing at least one favorable trend. Last season, while floundering at home, they reaped their first pair of points at the expense of the Springfield Falcons in the season opener at MassMutual Center.

Saturday night will be their chance to duplicate that. Although, this Falcons team ought to be armed with a little more conviction, having gone 2-1-0 on the road to start its 2011-12 campaign.

Springfield lost at Manchester, 5-2, last Friday, then rebounded to throttle the Albany Devils, 6-3 last Saturday. The Falcons will return home on a bus from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, where they are fresh off a 7-4 win over the Penguins.

The Falcons have already drawn themselves 17 power plays and converted on five of them, including three against the Pens on Friday.

Notable names
Prolific playmaker Martin St. Pierre, who led the P-Bruins with 51 assists and 66 points in 2008-09, is back in North America with his sixth AHL team after playing in three European countries last year. So far, he has put his name on every Falcons’ scoresheet for a total of four points, although he is also nursing a minus-3 rating.

Winger Nick Drazenovic, a former teammate of Trent Whitfield’s with the Peoria Rivermen, is averaging two points per game to start his new life as a Falcon. He has had at least one assist every night through three games and scored twice on five total shots, including the game-winner at Albany last Saturday and a shorthanded strike against the Penguins.

Cody Bass comes from the defending Calder Cup champion Binghamton Senators, with whom he had spent the previous six seasons and seen time with both Drazenovic and new P-Bruin Josh Hennessy.

Fresh UMass-Amherst alumnus Paul Dainton is staying in western Massachusetts to kindle his professional goaltending endeavors with Springfield. So far, he is 1-1-0 in two appearances.

Although they have gone through eight consecutive seasons, six coaching changes and three NHL affiliation changes without a single playoff appearance, the Falcons were recently picked to finish third in the Eastern Conference by The Hockey News. The superficially bold prediction is doubtlessly influenced by the multitude of formidable offseason acquisitions.

Starting on Saturday, the Falcons will play 17 of their next 23 games at home, but the P-Bruins will be the visitor on only one of those occasions. Meanwhile, out of their next seven sporadic road games, the Falcons will pay to visits to the Dunkin Donuts Center (Nov. 18 and Dec. 16).