Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins @ Portland Pirates

Opening draw
Not unlike their parents in Boston, the Providence Bruins have a chance to surmount the .500 fence Saturday night when they visit the Portland Pirates at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

At 7-7-1, the P-Bruins will try to improve their season series to 3-0-0 with the Pirates, who are presently mired in the Atlantic Division cellar, on a two-game pointless skid and 2-6-0 in their last eight outings after an initial 2-1-1 start.

Entering Saturday’s action, the P-Bruins are one of a whopping 12 Eastern Conference inhabitants with a winning percentage of .500 or better. The Pirates are in the slim minority, joined by the defending Calder Cup champion Binghamton Senators and the Manchester Monarchs, whom the Bruins victimized with a dramatic 1-0 decision Friday at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

Notable names
Andy Miele, who returned to the Pirates last Friday after a two-week recall to the parent Phoenix Coyotes, is second only to Rochester’s Marcus Foligno with a 33.3 shooting percentage. Over seven AHL appearances, Miele, Carter Camper’s former teammate at Miami University, has inserted four goals on 12 SOG.

Brett Hextall and Ryan Hollweg are the only active Portland regulars in the plus/minus black with ratings of plus-3 and plus-1, respectively.

Veteran defenseman Nathan Oystrick is on the three-game point-getting streak with a goal and four assists in that span.

The P-Bruins slapped Manchester stopper Martin Jones with his league-leading seventh loss of the season Friday night while sparing their own Anton Khudobin the same fate. However, Khudobin is still tied with Portland’s Curtis McElhinney for third on that dubious leaderboard with six setbacks apiece.

The P-Bruins have a substantially better power-play conversion rate on the road (21.4 percent as opposed to 4.9 percent at The Dunk) while Portland has reaped more 5-on-4 rewards at home (20.7) than away (17.6 percent). The Pirates have also killed 92.3 percent of their road penalties, but only fended off 77.3 percent of opposing power play onslaughts at the Cumberland County Civic Center.