Friday, November 4, 2011

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins vs. Manchester Monarchs

Opening draw
Three weeks after brooking a 7-1 throttling at the hands of the Manchester Monarchs, the Providence Bruins will vie for a refreshing do-over with their Granit State rivals at the Dunkin Donuts Center Friday night.

Since their previous meeting, both parties in question have generally strode in opposite directions from where that 7-1 upshot may have pointed. The P-Bruins amassed their first win the subsequent night and have gone 5-2-1 to improve from 0-3-0 to 5-5-1.

Manchester, on the other hand, was initially off to a 3-1-0 start but has since dipped to 1-6-0. They disrupted a five-game losing streak with a 5-2 win at Portland last Friday, but then endured a 4-1

In terms of winning percentage, the Monarchs are last in the Eastern Conference and second-last in the league behind the Lake Erie Monsters with a .364 point-getting rate.

Friday’s bout will constitute Part I of a home-and-home set, which will pick back up Saturday evening at Verizon Wireless Arena. It will be one of three times this season that the P-Bruins swap visits with an adversary on back-to-back the nights, the other sets being with Connecticut (Dec. 10-11) and Worcester (Jan. 20-21).

Notable names
Despite missing the first two games of the season, Jake Muzzin is tied for second among league defensemen with three goals and fourth among all AHL blueliners with 30 shots on goal.

Richard Clune leads the AHL’s penalty minute leaderboard with 55 and is second in terms of five-minute majors with five such infractions.

Goaltender Martin Jones is tied with the P-Bruins’ Anton Khudobin for second in the league with five losses on the year. Only Lake Erie’s Trevor Cann has had more setbacks with seven.

Touted defensive prospect Thomas Hickey has three assists on the year, but has gone 46 consecutive regular-season games without a goal, dating back to Jan. 14 of last season.

The Monarchs are one of two teams, the other being the Rockford IceHogs, who have yet to go to overtime in a single game.

Over the next two full months, the P-Bruins will tangle with the Monarchs in seven of their next 24 dates, beginning Friday at The Dunk and ending on New Year’s Eve at Verizon Wireless Arena. After that binge of battles, the two rivals will go nearly two full months without crossing paths and will clash only twice more overall in the second half of the season.