Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins @ Manchester Monarchs

Opening draw
Two teams with at least slightly better fortune on the road than at home will complete a back-to-back series Saturday night when the Providence Bruins visit the Manchester Monarchs at Verizon Wireless Arena.

The P-Bruins are vying to rinse out the vinegar from Friday’s 2-1 shortcoming at the Dunkin Donuts Center, which has already dropped them to 0-2-0 in their season series with the Monarchs.

Manchester improved to 4-4-0 on the road in Friday’s bout, with two wins apiece coming in Providence and Portland.

Conversely, the Monarchs have not won in their own domain since opening night, when they plastered the Springfield Falcons, 5-2. Since then, they have been blanked by St. John’s, 1-0, conceded a 2-1 decision to the Falcons and submitted to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 4-1.

Notable names
Winger Brandon Kozun, who commenced the scoring on Friday, is on a two-game goal-getting streak and has landed at least one shot on net in each of his last 10 appearances. Linemates Jordan Nolan and Andrei Lotkionov have assisted on each of those tallies. No other Monarchs are fostering an active string of consecutive appearances on the scoresheet.

With Anton Khudobin and Martin Jones having dueled in the creases on Friday, there is a reasonable chance Providence could give Michael Hutchinson the nod and pit him against Manchester’s Jeff Zatkoff.

Zatkoff is 4-3-2 all-time in 10 starts against the P-Bruins, winning his first four decisions but going 0-3-2 for the better part of last season. Hutchinson, on the other hand, is 3-0-0 versus the Monarchs.

Providence newcomers Josh Hennessy and Jamie Tardif have each claimed two of their first four points at Manchester’s expense. Tardif assisted on Hennessy first strike as a P-Bruin at The Dunk on Oct. 14 and both were credited with setting up Max Sauve’s goal in Friday’s bout.

This is only the P-Bruins’ second excursion to Manchester in this calendar year. They won their previous visit on March 9 after deleting 1-0 and 2-1 deficits before claiming an epic, 14-round shootout. Providence figures to have seven holdovers from that game suiting up tonight, including both of its goaltenders and Lane MacDermid, who gave the Bruins the 5-4 win in one-on-ones.