The Providence Bruins will host the league’s most prolific offense Friday night when the Norfolk Admirals, visit the Dunkin Donuts Center for the first of two times in the 2011-12 season.
The Admirals, who bear a league-leading average of 4.5 goals and 42.6 shots on net per game, are in a virtual three-way tie for second place in the AHL’s Eastern Conference behind the divisional rival Hershey Bears. Norfolk’s 5-2-1 record and .688 winning percentage match those of the Atlantic Division-leading St. John’s IceCaps and Northeast-leading Adirondack Phantoms.
Providence has not faced the Tampa Bay Lightning’s farm club since 2008-09, when the Bruins took a 4-3 decision at The Dunk on Nov. 16 and later reaped a 3-2 victory at the Norfolk Scope on Feb. 27.
Delving into his first full AHL season, Norfolk winger Carter Ashton leads all league rookies with a 7-4-11 scoring log. Teammate Cory Conacher is currently the second-most productive freshman with 4-6-10 totals.
Four of Ashton’s goals have come on the power play. In a similar vein, defenseman Mark Barberio has six assists with the man advantage and leads the Admirals with nine helpers overall. His 10 points on the year are the most among AHL blueliners.
Winger Trevor Smith is third among all AHLers with a plus-8 rating, trailing only a pair of Toronto Marlies in Joe Colborne and Joey Crabb.
The Admirals boast an average of 22.6 penalty minutes per game. Defenseman Jeff Dimmen and Ashton lead the league with seven and six minor infractions, respectively. On the other hand, the Admirals’ adversaries have taken an identical 181 PIM through the first eight games.
Norfolk and Syracuse lead the league with four overtime games so far. The Admirals have ended two victories in the bite-sized bonus round along with one shootout win and a shootout loss.
Both the Admirals and P-Bruins have been outscored by their opposition in both the first and second period, but have fared better over a cumulative eight third periods. Providence has run up a 7-7 scoring differential in the closing stanza while Norfolk has tallied a 13-7 difference in its favor.