Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bruins Puckbag: An Assortment of Observations on Boston and Providence

Thursday’s reassignment of Jordan Caron and Steven Kamper to Providence is at least a week overdue, especially for Caron. So long as Benoit Pouliot is continuing to catch on, it’s only fair that he stay active every night with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, but Caron needs regular extramural action. I say keep him in Providence for at least the first half of this month and let Zach Hamill be Boston’s 13th forward for the time being.

David Krejci’s newfangled three-year contract is not necessarily an impeccable, but all things considered, it is at least a shrewd idea to keep the upper echelon of the Bruins’ depth chart as it is for the balance of this season. When Krejci and wingers Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic are on their game, as they were Wednesday night against Toronto, they are an integral part of Claude Julien’s ecosystem.

Speaking of Lucic, with his second two-goal performance in as many visits to Toronto, he nudged ahead of Chris Kelly for the team’s best shooting percentage with 23.8 percent accuracy.

For the next two weekends, it’s all Connecticut and Manchester on the P-Bruins’ docket. They will host the Whale on Friday and next Sunday in addition to paying their first visit to the XL Center this season next Saturday. The Monarchs are on deck to host Providence this Saturday and pay their third of five slated visits to the Dunkin Donuts Center a week from Friday.

Is the Boston-Toronto season series the 2011-12 equivalent of Montreal-Boston in 2007-08? The Bruins are halfway there after claiming the first three installments and outscoring the Maple Leafs, 19-5, in that span.

The Baby Bs will not venture outside of New England boundaries again until Jan. 25, when they visit the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. Starting with that, they will play four of five games on the road and outside of this region (Feb. 4 at Adirondack and Feb. 7-8 at St. John’s). But until then, it’s 21 straight games at home or in any of last year’s Atlantic Division cities.

Is it just me or is Zdeno Chara’s productivity flying under the radar? The peerlessly towering blueliner and Bruins’ captain has goals in three of his last four outings and posted a 4-10-14 scoring log in November whilst upping his rating to plus-15, the best among all NHL defensemen. Perhaps most strikingly, he leads Boston’s power play with three goals and seven points.

In the NHL as a whole, Chara is tied with Brad Marchand for third in the plus/minus column. They trail only teammates Kelly (plus-16) and Tyler Seguin (plus-19). Patrice Bergeron is in a three-way tie with Florida’s Tomas Fleischmann and St. Louis’ Alex Steen for fifth with a plus-14.

The P-Bruins turned a few heads by outdrawing their co-tenants, PC men’s basketball, last season. So far this year, with 13 home games under their belt, the local AHL entry has drawn about 6,352 fans per night. The Friar hoops team has played four nonconference games on the Dave Gavitt Court before an average audience of 5,552. But there is still plenty of time, not to mention nine Big East games, for that to change.

In two fewer games, Gregory Campbell, Kelly, Lucic and Peverley have each already charged up more points this regular season than they did over the course of the 2011 playoffs. In addition, the otherworldly Tim Thomas is retaining the exact same save percentage (.940) and a slightly better goals-against average (1.93 this regular season versus 1.98 in last year’s playoffs).

Brian McGrattan was a P-Bruins’ enforcer at this time last year and saw no NHL action in 2010-11, including after his rights were swapped over to the Anaheim Ducks in February. So far this year, he leads the Nashville Predators with 34 penalty minutes.