The Providence Bruins are symptomatic of Denis Lemieux Syndrome―i.e. allergic to home crowds.
Four times in their last seven home dates―bookended by the Manchester Monarchs two visits―the P-Bruins have entered the first intermission with a two-goal deficit glowering at them.
Moreover, the four games in question have been each of their last four Friday night games, which have all been played in front of Dunkin Donuts Center crowds exceeding 6,000 fans. Contrast that with their four Sunday matinees, which have been played before audiences of 5,072 or less.
On Friday, Providence paid for yet another frostbitten first period as Manchester subsisted on an initial 2-0 advantage through all of the remaining 40 minutes en route to a 2-1 decision.
For the better part of the opening stanza, the Monarchs all but sucked every Bruins-issued biscuit into Bermuda. Their pressure repeatedly flustered clearing attempts on Providence property while their penalty-killing brigade was quick to send the host power play into a regroup.
And then, barely a minute after getting through the stanza’s only 5-on-4 segment, Manchester sculpted its 2-0 lead on five shots all in a span of 1:58. First, winger Jordan Nolan hustled to negate an icing and turned to set up Brandon Kozun for the icebreaker with 11:19 off the clock. Patrick Mullen augmented the edge with a homeward-bound blast from the right point at 13:17.
The P-Bruins whittled the deficit in half around the halfway mark of the second period with the help of two happy returnees. Max Sauve inserted his second goal of the season at 10:37 with partial assistance from Jamie Tardif, who had joined his linemate on the injured reserve for each of the previous six games.
Providence more than doubled its shooting output in the third, running up a 21-8 gap for a final advantage of 40-34. But Monarchs stopper Martin Jones had an answer for everything.
The line of Josh Hennessy, Sauve and Tardif was an outstandingly kinetic trinity Friday night given that two constituents have been missing in body, the other in spirit for so long. They combined for seven of the Bruins’ 19 shots in the first 40 minutes in addition to getting collaborative credit on the Providence icebreaker. Hennessy also made an irreproachable bid for a shorthanded breakaway in the 17th minute of the middle frame.
By night’s end, they had taken 12 of the team’s 40 SOG, Tardif leading all Providence skaters with five.
It won’t be long before road ventures are outnumbering home games in frequency, so the Bruins had best boot this habit of slow starts in the ostensibly advantageous Bear Den where they are now 3-5-1 and still have not won a game in regulation.
The P-Bruins have now trailed at some point in each of their last seven games and 10 out of 12 overall on the year.
As vital as it was to reincorporate Sauve, Tardif and to plug in the newly-obtained Chris Clark, it is a bit of a head-scratcher that Kyle MacKinnon was one of the odd men out. The rookie out of Providence College was just fostering a two-game point streak and coming off his first goal in the previous game against St. John’s.
At the rate he is producing, Jamie Arniel might have been a more ideal scratch. Although he landed four shots on goal to up his season bushel to 38, every shot that doesn’t go in (37 of them now) is making him look worse.
Lane MacDermid was the only P-Bruin who failed to formally test Jones.
Mullen snapped a 12-game goal-scoring drought that carried over from the final weekend of last season.
Center Robert Czarnik, who picked up the secondary assist on Mullen’s strike, had only one shot on goal in two previous appearances with the Monarchs. On Friday, he led all participants with six registered stabs.
The Monarchs won their first one-goal game in four opportunities.
After the P-Bruins went their previous two games with no fights, Kirk MacDonald dropped his mitts with Justin Johnson right off a neutral-zone draw at 15:10 of the opening frame. Johnson later engaged MacDermid at the 12:36 mark of the second period after the Providence enforcer took a hack at him with his twig.
Along with MacKinnon, fellow rookie forward Tyler Randell was scratched to make room for Sauve and Tardif. Yannick Riendeau’s midweek reassignment to Reading preceded Clark’s signing.
Hennessy’s assist on Sauve’s second-period strike constituted his 300th point in five-plus AHL seasons.
The contesting clubs followed the NHL’s dress code with the P-Bruins donning their road black uniforms for the night.