Wednesday, November 2, 2011

P-Bruins Constantly Short Of Breathing Room

In their first 11 games, the Providence Bruins have rolled up a cumulative 670 minutes and 30 seconds of ice time. Within that full timeframe, they have only spent an aggregate 138:07 of those minutes safeguarding a lead.

Out of their five wins, they have only once drawn first blood and stayed at least one notch ahead from there on in, namely in a 4-1 triumph at Springfield Oct. 16. They have not sculpted a multi-goal edge before or since on their 2011-12 schedule.

They also prevailed in a shootout against Worcester on Oct. 21, but only after never leading within the preceding 65 minutes of full-scale hockey action.

In total, the P-Bruins have taken nine individual leads, not counting the instant-dry 4-3 edge granted by Andrew Bodnarchuk in Sunday’s overtime session against St. John’s.

Of those that the opposition has had a chance to delete, the Bruins have spilled all but two. Four of their leads have not lived to see 10 minutes of age.

And on three out of nine possible occasions, they have let an advantage devolve into a deficit.

Two of those toe-curling scenarios transpired over the most recent weekend of game action. In Saturday night’s visit to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Providence struck first for the fourth time in 10 tries with Stefan Chaput converted at 17:21 of the first period.

That 1-0 edge, which also had the Bruins leading after the opening frame for only the third time, lived a 13-minute, 20-second lifespan. Justin DiBenedetto drew a 1-1 knot for the Tigers with 10:41 gone in the second and Casey Cizikas went on to grant Bridgeport and 2-1 and then permanent 3-2 lead.

Sunday’s bout with the IceCaps featured two outright lead changes and three equalizers. The P-Bruins’ 1-0 lead lasted a mere 9:24 in the middle frame and their later 3-2 advantage was zapped after a mere 7:34.

Most flustering for head coach Bruce Cassidy ought to be the fact that his pupils afforded themselves more chances to broaden their 1-0 gap in the last two outings than in previous ventures. That, and invaluable inches of ground they potentially squandered.

The P-Bruins’ 14-shot first period in Bridgeport was their single-most quantitative salvo in a 20-minute stanza up that point, yet Chaput’s connection was all they could boast.

On Sunday, they matched that mark by pelting St. John’s stopper David Aebischer 14 times in the second period, beating him on two of those. Carter Camper and Chaput each scored to sandwich a pair of IceCaps goals.

One more strike out of 34 and/or one more prevented against Bridgeport would have meant sparing at least one point, if not two on Saturday. One instance of a multi-goal advantage over St. John’s could have denied a divisional rival an overtime point.

Those scenarios could be a tad more frequent if the Providence strike force were to attack in droves, even with the resources they have had of late. This chiefly means drawing more out of proven sizzlers Jamie Arniel and Josh Hennessy, just to name a pair.

The solution going forward? The P-Bruins need to not only pester the opposing stoppers more consistently and assertively, but it couldn’t hurt to fluster the said goalie’s praetorian guards.

Tellingly enough, the Providence power play was 3-for-19 on the year in the wake of their 4-1 win over the Falcons. They had gone 2-for-5 with the corporeal advantage that night at MassMutual Center and all three of their conversions (including one the preceding night versus Manchester) had the help of Hennessy. Jamie Tardif had a hand in two.

Translation: The only night they have had any multi-goal leads has also been the only night that they have converted multiple power plays.

Since then, the man-up brigade has gone 2-for-24, inconsistently earning opportunities, much less cashing in. Tardif has been injured the last two weeks, but Hennessy has been available for the last seven games, yet launched a mere nine SOG and has yet to build upon his 2-1-3 scoring transcript.

Tardif, along with Max Sauve and Trent Whitfield could return to the lineup as early as this weekend. In addition, as of midday Wednesday, unemployed NHL veteran Chris Clark is reportedly on a professional tryout one month after being released from Boston’s training camp.

But an instantaneous impact from all or any of those four is hardly something to bank on. The P-Bruins’ active roster of the last two weeks has boasted enough of a definitive top six to be mounting more daunting deficits on their adversaries.