Friday, November 25, 2011

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins @ Norfolk Admirals

Opening draw
Mired in a season-worst four-game winless streak, the Providence Bruins will vie to reverse their fortunes with a two-night stay in Norfolk, beginning Friday evening with a 7:05 puck-drop.

The host Admirals have already raided the Dunkin Donuts Center twice in as many scheduled visits, winning 4-2 and 3-0 decisions on Oct. 28 and Nov. 6, respectively.

With Wednesday night’s 4-3 falter to Hershey, the P-Bruins have dropped to 0-3-0 against East Division residents. They have three more matches with that division yet to come, including this weekend’s two-set with the Admirals and a home date with the Bears on Feb. 17.

Notable names
Admirals’ top gun Cory Conacher has been held pointless in only two of his first 18 outings and pitched in an assist in both of Norfolk’s visits to Providence earlier this autumn.

Rookie Carter Ashton’s scoring touch has slightly tapered off since he collected a goal-assist value pack against the P-Bruins on Nov. 6. In six games since then, he has chipped in a helper against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, logged another 1-1-2 night versus St. John’s and been held off the scoresheet four times. Nonetheless, he still leads the Admirals with 12 goals, is tied for first in the AHL in the same category and is third on their charts with 19 points on the year.

Ashton and defenseman Jeff Dimmen are tied for second among league rookies with 11 minor penalties apiece.

Winger Dana Tyrell was recalled to the parent Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.

Goaltenders Jaroslav Janus and Dustin Tokarski continue to split the workload evenly for Norfolk. Last time out, Janus endured six goals on 26 shots in a 6-3 home loss to Charlotte on Wednesday, so look for Tokarski to guard the cage against the P-Bruins for at least Part I of this set.

The P-Bruins have not visited the Norfolk Scope since Feb. 27, 2009, Martin St. Pierre inserted the decider en route to a 3-2 victory. Andrew Bodnarchuk, Zach Hamill, Kirk MacDonald and assistant-turned-head coach Bruce Cassidy are the only Providence holdovers from that evening. The Providence roster that night also featured four current Boston staples in Johnny Boychuk, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid and Tuukka Rask.

In terms of winning percentage, the P-Bruins are second-worst in the Eastern Conference with a .429 success rate. Only the defending Calder Cup champion Binghamton Senators are faring worse with a .421 percentage.

Two nights after facing the league’s most potent home-ice power play in Hershey, the P-Bruins will face the No. 2 team in that category these next two nights. The Admirals have converted 10 of 36 opportunities at The Scope for a 27.8 percent success rate. Although, Norfolk is also the worst penalty-killing team at home with only 67.6 percent success.