The presumptive debut of Chris Clark and possible returns of multiple scorers who were itching to break through even before their respective injuries is enough on the home front for the Providence Bruins to carry conviction into this weekend’s home-and-home set with Manchester.
Now throw in the fact that the Monarchs have done some, but certainly not much, to follow up on the 7-1 flare-up they inflicted on Providence in their last encounter three weeks ago. They did proceed to belt the Portland Pirates, 5-1, the following evening but have since gone 1-6-0, their other win being another lopsided upshot at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The P-Bruins, who have gone a respectable 5-2-1 since hitting their nadir against Manchester Oct. 14, will have to play their cards carefully so as not to risk reinvigorating the Monarchs. That said, they will doubtlessly thirst for a redress in Friday night’s bout at the Dunkin Donuts Center considering the way the Monarchs made human Zambonis of them three weeks to date.
Other than a single play that saw Josh Hennessy, Jamie Tardif and the power-play brigade all break the ice after two games off, the P-Bruins let the data underline the stench that night.
En route to completing an empty three-game, season-opening homestand, they mustered but one goal for the third straight outing. They again let the final margin grow to three goals and beyond.
Moreover, despite manifestly out-disciplining Manchester, taking two minor penalties as opposed to the Monarchs’ seven, they reaped no rewards beyond Hennessy’s strike.
And it was patently a team loss. All 18 Providence skaters finished the night in the red under the plus/minus heading. The Monarchs had 17 players in the black while veteran Marc-Andre Cliche finished even.
The P-Bruins’ altogether unripe defense, which happened to be missing Matt Bartkowski in their first meeting with Manchester, has since improved to authorize 22 opposing tallies over eight games. That translates to a nightly average of 2.75 after letting in precisely five goals per night in their first three ventures.
On the other end, the Bruins have not let any adversaries confine them to fewer than two goals in any of their last eight outings.
Conversely, the 4-7-0 Monarchs have been outscored, 27-15, while going 1-6-0 over their last seven outings. In each of their last four losses, they have mustered two goals or less, including their second shutout setback of the year in a 5-0 whitewash at the hands of the Connecticut Whale.
Across their stats sheet, 12 individual Monarchs had at least three points in their first six games while four of them―Andrei Lotkionov, Cliche, Justin Azevedo, David Meckler―had at least three goals. Over Manchester’s last five ventures, no one has mustered any more than a single goal or two points.
In addition, the P-Bruins have settled six of their last seven games by a single goal, going a more-than-decent 4-1-1 in those arm-wrestling bouts. Overall, Manchester is 0-5-0 in games decided by two goals or fewer.
No time like Friday’s home date and Saturday’s rematch up at Verizon Wireless Arena for Providence to improve its handle on leads and exploit the Monarchs’ principal follies. Unless they let Monarchs extract the same minerals that have given them one scoring buffet in Providence and two in Portland, the Bruins ought to be raising the upper hand.