Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins @ Worcester Sharks

Opening draw
In their first Sunday outing away from home, the Providence Bruins will help the Worcester Sharks curtain a six-game homestand at the DCU Center.

Worcester is currently fourth in the Atlantic Division in the way of points, but continues to hold a substantial number of games in hand on all of its rivals, including six on the P-Bruins. This despite what has been an altogether barren homestand that has seen them go 1-3-1 up to this point.

With the Sharks’ 2-1 loss to Manchester on Saturday and the Bruins’ simultaneous 4-2 falter in Portland, the Monarchs have moved into a virtual tie for second place with Providence. The Sharks, however, have only three points to make up and are the only team in the division other than St. John’s bearing a supra-.500 winning percentage.

All three of Worcester’s regulation losses have come within its active homestand. The P-Bruins were the first team to deny the Sharks any points when they deleted a 3-1 deficit in regulation and pulled through in a shootout during their last encounter at the Dunkin Donuts Center 23 nights ago.

Notable names
Sharks goaltender Tyson Sexsmith is second on the AHL’s leaderboard with a 1.80 goals-against average.

Despite his team’s having played a league-low 10 games, Curt Gogol has mustered a peerless bushel of 33 penalty minutes, including three major infractions. Two of his three fights have come against the P-Bruins (Lane MacDermid Oct. 9, Tyler Randell Oct. 21). Teammate Nathan Moon is No. 5 in that category with 26 minutes spent in the bin.

Matt Irwin is tied for the league lead among defensive scorers with four goals, a distinction shared with Portland’s Nathan Oystrick and Chicago’s Kevin Connauton. In addition, all four of Irwin’s strikes have come on the power play.

The Sharks continue to average a league-high in team penalty minutes with 21.6 per night.

Worcester ranks No. 3 in the league in terms of both shots-for (34.1) and shots-against (26.8) per game.

In four out of the Sharks’ first five years of existence, the P-Bruins have cultivated a winning record in the road portion of the season series, including a 3-2-1 finish at the DCU Center last year. They are presently riding a 2-0-0 winning streak in Worcester, having claimed 4-2 and 4-1 decisions in March 25 and April 2 of last season.