Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins @ Manchester Monarchs

Opening draw
The Providence Bruins will approach the halfway mark of their 2011-12 season series with the Manchester Monarchs upon visiting Verizon Wireless Arena Saturday night.

Winless in their last seven outings (0-6-1), the P-Bruins will look to pull ahead in the season series after most recently edging the Monarchs, 1-0, on home ice Nov. 11 and extracting a 3-2 shootout decision in their only other excursion to Manchester Nov. 5.

Manchester, on the other hand, hopes to avoid a second consecutive loss to an ostensibly weaker opponent. The Monarchs’ six-game winning streak was obliterated in Binghamton Friday night when the Senators claimed a 4-1 victory.

That upshot, coupled with the P-Bruins’ identical 4-1 falter against Connecticut, flip-flopped the Baby Bs and Baby Sens in their positions as the least successful teams in the Eastern Conference. Providence now has the second-worst winning percentage in the entire AHL (.375) behind the Hamilton Bulldogs (.350).

Notable names
Upon splashing a six-game production drought, winger Brandon Kozun has since tallied a point in each of his last three appearances, giving him a hand in three of the Monarchs’ last seven goals.

Defenseman Slava Voynov, who has played in each of Manchester’s first four meetings with Providence but only eight AHL games overall, was recalled to the parent Los Angeles Kings for the second time this season Nov. 15. He has not been back in the minors since, but rather cemented a regular spot on the active roster, appearing in eight straight NHL games.

Goaltender Martin Jones, Saturday’s presumptive starter for the Monarchs, has won each of his last three starts and is 2-1-0 against Providence with only one goal-against in each of those three meetings.

Both Providence and Manchester are experiencing a bit of a power-play drought. The P-Bruins have deferred on each of their last 15 man-advantage invitations, dating back to Jamie Tardif’s first-period conversion against Norfolk last Friday. The Monarchs, meanwhile, are 0-for-8 over the course of their last three games.

The Monarchs are still riding a five-game winning streak at home, although every win has been decided by a single goal, including one overtime and two shootout decisions.

The P-Bruins are off on Sunday while the Monarchs are slated to visit Worcester before the two parties converge yet again on the Dunkin Donuts Center next Friday.