Friday, October 21, 2011

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins vs. Worcester Sharks

Opening draw
Two endeavors to concoct a three-game winning streak will conflict at the Dunkin Donuts Center Friday night when the Providence Bruins host the Worcester Sharks.

The Sharks have played fewer games than any other AHL club so far, having topped the Bruins, 4-1, on Oct. 9 and throttled the Albany Devils, 6-1, in their home opener on Oct. 15. But for what it’s worth, their defense is tops in the league with a nightly average of one goal-against and 18 shots-against.

The Sharks are also averaging a league-high 33.5 penalty minutes per game. That includes four fighting majors, a charging major and two 10-minute misconducts. In last Saturday’s clash at the DCU Center alone, Worcester and Albany combined for 103 minutes in the box.

Gogol, who scored the first goal and took seven penalty minutes against Providence, upped his PIM bushel to 19 (third in the league) with a two-and-10 combination against Albany, the misconduct coming for continuing altercation on top of a roughing infraction.

As it happens, though, only about half of Worcester’s roster is liable for its collectively blood-laden transcript. Of the 19 skaters to have seen action so far, eight have yet to commit an infraction while 11 have combined for the team’s 77 PIM.

On the flipside, the Sharks are a pristine 9-for-9 on the penalty kill. And at the other end, they have drawn themselves 15 power plays and converted a good 33 percent of them, including four out of night versus Albany. On top of that, five different goal-getters have converted while 5-on-4 and 12 skaters have had a hand in at least one man-up conversion.

Notable names
Left wing John McCarthy is coming off a playmaker hat trick against the Devils, his second three-point performance in 101 career AHL appearances, all of them with Worcester.

Top gun and Boston native Benn Ferriero was recalled to San Jose on Thursday. Ferriero had inserted Worcester’s last dose of insurance in their latest confrontation with the P-Bruins and charged up a goal-assist value pack against Albany last Saturday.

Ian O’Connor, who graduated from Providence College last spring, was released from a professional after three days with Worcester on Wednesday, not even having a chance to see game action.

The visiting team has won each of the last four installments of this matchup, two apiece at the Dunk and the DCU Center. The last home triumph was a 4-1 win for the P-Bruins on March 18.

The Bruins and Sharks parent clubs will meet at the TD Garden on Saturday night. They have similarly seen the road team emerge victorious in each of their last five encounters, dating back to the end of the 2004-05 NHL lockout.