Saturday, September 24, 2011

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Colby Cohen

Opening statement
Before there was Anton Khudobin or Stefan Chaput, there was defender Colby Cohen coming to the P-Bruins in the middle of an altogether iffy 2010-11 campaign. As it happens, though, his belated Providence debut (after being traded from Colorado for Boston’s Matt Hunwick and sitting out over a month with an injury) coincided with the team’s steady improvement.

Cohen appeared in each of the P-Bruins final 46 games last year. There were 13-18-3 without his services and 25-18-3 with them. Perhaps that’s not a coincidence on the whole.

2010-11 Highlights (With Lake Erie and Providence)
· Earned a brief promotion from the Lake Erie Monsters to the parent Colorado Avalanche, playing in three NHL games during the second week of November.
· Goal, assist and a plus-1 rating in the P-Bruins 5-3 loss to Binghamton at The Dunk on Jan. 9.
· Collaborated with Andrew Bodnarchuk to set up Brian McGrattan’s game-winner in a 2-1 home triumph over Springfield Feb. 4.
· Assisted on two goals in a close, 4-3 home loss to Hershey Feb. 11.
· Pitched in a helper in back-to-back games, helping to beat Charlotte and Bridgeport at The Dunk on March 4 and March 6, respectively.

2010-11 Lowlights
· Took four minor penalties in a span of two games with Lake Erie (Nov. 17, Nov. 19).
· Posted a minus-2 rating in four games, one with Lake Erie and three with Providence.
· Took eight minor penalties within his first four games as a P-Bruin.
· Failed to score a single goal in each of his last 43 games-played.

2011-12 Outlook
Among all of this year’s presumptive Providence blueline mainstays, Cohen’s size is rivaled only by that of the pugnacious Nathan McIver. For both of them, this will be a year to try to white out the memories of recent injuries and try to inflict more bruises on attacking adversaries.

In addition, Cohen could stand to improve his accuracy on the opposing cage. In a cumulative 60 AHL twirls last season, he launched 98 shots on goal, but only tuned the mesh twice. Those around these parts who watched him in his three years at Boston University know he is capable of chipping in at a higher rate than that.

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Stefan Chaput

Opening statement
After playing in four different cities over the last two years, including three last season alone, fourth-year professional Stefan Chaput ought to be ready to settle down in Providence.

2010-11 Highlights (With Charlotte, Syracuse and Providence)
· Started his Syracuse stint with three points in four games, including goals on consecutive nights against his former teammates from the Carolina system.
· Went through 27 consecutive games without taking a single penalty, beginning on Dec. 29 with Syracuse and ending on April 2 with Providence.
· Scored a goal in his Providence debut, again beating his old friends from Charlotte, 4-2, on March 4 at The Dunk.
· Tallied four points in as many games-played to close out the season, including a goal-assist value pack and the game-winner in his final appearance of the year, a 5-4 home triumph over Portland on April 8.
· Finished with a plus-7 rating over 15 games with Providence, third-best on the 2010-11 team leaderboard behind Steven Kampfer and Jeff Penner.

2010-11 Lowlights
· Did not charge up a goal in any of his first 21 games-played, including all 20 played with Charlotte before the Carolina Hurricanes exported his rights to the Anaheim Ducks. Ironically, Chaput would score three goals in as many meetings with the Checkers after scoring none in two months on their side.
· Rolled up a minus-5 rating over his first 13 games with Charlotte.
· Went on an 11-game pointless skid with Syracuse between Dec. 28 and Jan. 19.
· Rating hit a season-low minus-6 on Jan. 18 and again on Feb. 25, both with Syracuse.

2011-12 Outlook
The grinding pivot has spent his whole professional career in the AHL, playing a grand total of 153 games with the Albany River Rats, Charlotte Checkers, Syracuse Crunch and the P-Bruins. Unless his game plummets far enough to warrant an assignment to Reading, expect Chaput to be a mainstay at The Dunk for the coming year.

Perhaps more than anything, Chaput’s topmost goal ought to be to stay healthy. In three tries thus far, he has yet to make it through a full professional season without any injuries.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Jordan Caron

Opening statement
After a rookie year split between Boston and Providence, Jordan Caron is a presumptive candidate to take a permanent roster spot at the NHL level. But there is no guarantee he will not run into the same situation that had him fostering with the P-Bruins during the final two-thirds of last season.

2010-11 Highlights
• Scored three goals, including a game-winner, in seven games-played over the month of October for Boston.
• Had six multi-point games with Providence.
• Two power-play goals, an assist and a team-high five shots on goal in a 5-3 home loss to Binghamton Jan. 9.
• Held without a shot on net in only five out of 47 games-played for Providence.
• Scored go-ahead goal and assisted on empty-netter in third period to beat Portland, 4-2, on Jan. 28.
• Scored two unanswered goals to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead en route to a 5-4 home win over Portland April 8.

2010-11 Lowlights
• Failed to score a goal in each of his first nine games with Providence.
• Took six of the team’s 12 penalty minutes, including a high-sticking double-minor, at Bridgeport on Jan. 2.
• Posted a minus-3 rating on three occasions (Dec. 31, Jan. 22 and Mar. 26).

2011-12 Outlook
With so little overhaul on the defending champion Boston Bruins, Caron’s shot at being a full-time fixture in The Show is hit-or-miss this season.

On the one hand, he is in competition with Benoit Pouliot, Chris Clark and Josh Hennessy to fill one hole among forwards on the game night depth chart. On the other hand, with post-Cup hangover bound to take its toll and occasional injuries bound to occur, Caron ought to see more game action than he was in November of last year.

Either way, general manager Peter Chiarelli is going to give the towering sophomore scorer a chance to stay active somehow.

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Mark Cantin

Opening statement
A junior journeyman who played for three different Ontario League trams, defenseman Mark Cantin brings an especially enriched postseason resume to the Bruins organization. He spent two-and-a-half years with the Belleville Bulls (opposite PK Subban), made a cameo with Taylor Hall and the Windsor Spitfires and finished up in Mississauga.

In that time, Cantin saw action in a grand total of 69 major-junior playoff games. He made four straight trips to the OHL semifinals, put in three appearances in the league championship and won both an OHL and a Memorial Cup title in 2010.

2010-11 Highlights (With Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors)
· Led the team’s defensemen with 10 regular-season goals. That was four more than he scored in each of his first three major-junior seasons combined.
· Tied for 13th among all OHL blueliners with 41 regular-season points, despite missing seven games.
· Took only one penalty over 13 games (a five-minute fighting major) in the month of January.
· Had a cumulative plus-10 rating in seven games during the month of March.
· Scored six assists in 20 playoff games as the Majors reached the Robertson Cup Finals.
· Assisted on two goals, including a power-play equalizer at 18:09 of the third period, as Mississauga overcame a 3-0 deficit to win in overtime, 4-3, and finish a second-round sweep of the Sudbury Wolves.

2010-11 Lowlights (With Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors)
· Finished the regular season on a five-game pointless skid and had only one assist over the final nine games of the homestretch.
· Accumulated a minus-3 rating over a Jan. 21-23 home-and-home set with the Niagara IceDogs.
· Took 23 of his 70 regular-season penalty minutes within a span of 11 games between Feb. 4 and Feb. 27.
· Took four minor penalties within the first two games of the Robertson Cup finals.
· Was on the ice for two opposing goals, including the overtime clincher, as the Majors lost Game 7 of the Robertson Cup finals to the Owen Sound Attack.

2011-12 Outlook
If the contrasting listings are any indication, the 6-foot-1 Cantin has padded on eight pounds over his junior career to bring his weight up to an even 200. With that continued physical growth and all of the growing he has doubtlessly done through abundant winning and losing experiences, he needn’t have trouble embracing any degree of expectation in Providence. He should pose a hefty challenge to the likes Colby Cohen and David Warsofsky for ice time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Carter Camper

Opening statement
Fresh off of four years with Miami University, plus three skate-whetting games with the P-Bruins, Carter Camper is one of up to nine first-year professionals who will most likely spend the bulk of this season under Bruce Cassidy’s supervision.

2010-11 Highlights (With Miami University)
· Led the RedHawks with nine power-play goals while placing second on the team with 38 assists and 57 points.
· Started his senior season with a nine-game point-getting streak, accumulating nine goals and 24 points in that span.
· Had five assists in an Oct. 23 home bout with Northern Michigan.
· Finished his college career with a seven-game point-scoring streak, notching four goals and six assists in that span.
· Scored two points, took 10 shots on goal and retained a plus-2 rating over three amateur tryout games with the P-Bruins.
· Scored the game-winner in the P-Bruins season finale, a 3-2 home win over Manchester on April 10.

2010-11 Lowlights (With Miami University)
· Held without a point for three consecutive games between Feb. 5 and Feb. 12.
· Went eight consecutive games without scoring a goal between Dec. 4 and Jan. 21.
· Scored only three goals over a span of 18 games between Nov. 26 and Feb. 12.

2011-12 Outlook
Among all the forwards in the extended Black and Gold family, Camper is matched only by Brad Marchand in terms of his inferior 5-foot-9 posture. He is also 10 pounds lighter than Marchand, which reduces his odds of becoming an additional “Little Ball of Hate” who packs a one-two punch of scoring and hitting prowess.

But as long as Camper can carry over the scoring touch he flaunted his college, he will be of solid service to the P-Bruins and could challenge for one or two twirls with Boston.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

With scrimmage, defending champion Bruins return more long-lost glory to Providence

Where was this friendly fixture all these years?

A break-in exhibition game pitting two rosters each with a dense, unadulterated mix of this year’s Boston Bruins and Providence Bruins? Played at the Dunkin Donuts Center?

It will never be clear as to why this concept couldn’t come to the forefront and be plugged into practice until just now. Why it was only after AHL president Dave Andrews announced his plan to whittle four games off the regular-season schedule, instilling an urge for the P-Bruins to supplement two lost dates at The Dunk.

The finished product of this take-and-give phenomenon came to fruition Tuesday night in the form of the Boston Bruins Black and White Game, a good five months after it was originally announced.

The sold-out scrimmage―featuring 25 current or one-time P-Bruins and 13 of the 2011 Stanley Cup ring-bearers―did not just end a full off-season’s worth of anticipation among the Providence fan base.

It also splashed an indefinite and inexplicable drought of visits from the parent club, which once had one extramural exhibition in Rhode Island’s premier sports venue on an annual basis. Even before the Baby Bs’ father met their mother.

Even when the Boston Bruins were still pulling up prospects from the Maine Mariners, they played an annual preseason game in Providence. That practice most naturally continued after the P-Bruins arrived in the family, but then mysteriously ceased sometime around the NHL lockout, give or take a year or two.

How long has it been since then? So long that almost no one can pinpoint the date of the last NHL scrimmage to take place in the Divine City.

You can scrap in every corner of the World Wide Web and find no conclusive record of it.

Instead, you must rely on such primitive tools as your own brain or any memorabilia you may have saved. E.g. a program from the night Ray Bourque’s jersey was retired with an article recounting a scrimmage with Montreal in the late 1980s.

In this author’s memory bank, there was time in 2001 when the P-Bruins engaged the late Albany River Rats in the afternoon before the parent clubs from Boston and New Jersey converged on the ice at The Dunk in a doubleheader. There may have been more after that, there may not have been.

Not that it matters anymore. Fittingly enough, within the same calendar year, the Bruins have completed their all-out return to relevance on the New England sports scene and replenished their appreciation for the unique Ocean State sector of their fan base.

It has been said as many times as Providence-turned-Boston broadcaster Dave Goucher’s “Get the Duck Boats ready!” call has been replayed, but it’s worth restating once more. The now-20-year alliance between Providence and Boston constitutes the longest ongoing partnership between and AHL and NHL team. And it’s not going anywhere.

Yet for a while, within the past decade to be precise, there has been a vague sense of disconnect.

Part of it owes to the end of the annual preseason game at the Civic Center/Dunk. Part of it is because the New England Sports Network once carried its cameras into the arena for handfuls of P-Bruins home games each year, but no more. Part of it is because regional icon Rene Rancourt (the natural vocalist for Tuesday’s game) stopped coming to Providence so that three grade-school choruses can sing three different patriotic songs.

This, however, could presage a U-turn back in the right direction. The Baby Bs arranged for this game, along with the Boston-Providence alumni game to be played in November, just as the parent club was delving into the first round against Montreal last spring.

From a sheer Providence publicity standpoint, that would have been enough treats for one sitting. But it didn’t hurt that Boston, with the help of seven Spoked-P alumni, proceeded to nab the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 39 years.

From there, the P-Bruins wasted no time combining these special events with their own regular-season slate, promoting the “Champions Pack” for ticket-seekers interested in a variety bundle. By underscoring their affiliation, which they have every right to do, they were practically utilizing a secondhand buzz not unlike the self-made kick that came with their 1992 advent and 1999 Calder Cup.

Now would be a sensible time to bring back one other missing element at The Dunk. There was a time when one half of the rink’s center-ice circle was occupied by the P-Bruins emblem, whereas the other one was filled with a Spoked-B. But the Boston logo on the ice eventually evaporated along with the 20 Boston logos that twirled around against another NHL team each September and the periodic NESN telecasts.

Restoring the latter is all but impossible, especially now that all non-national games are exclusively on NESN as opposed to half on WSBK. On the other hand, based on the reception of Tuesday night’s intramural bout, the Bruins have brought to Rhode Island something even better than a clash between half Boston/Providence Bruins and half Montreal Canadiens/Hamilton Bulldogs.

Etch both the local AHL and NHL team logos into the ice and you’re suddenly hitting an easy 2-for-3 in this great restoration. And while you’re at it, look into turning off the lights and flashing highlights of past-and-present P-Bruins stars, especially those who won the Cup last season, before each AHL game here.

Just like Boston last spring, Providence had a manifestly crowning moment Tuesday night. And like Boston going forward, Providence must now build upon that in 2011-12.

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Ryan Button

Opening statement
At the conclusion of his fourth season in the Western Hockey League, Ryan Button whet his blades for the professional ranks by signing with the P-Bruins and seeing action for each of the last seven games in 2010-11.

And unlike fellow late-season call-ups Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner, Button is old enough to bolt the Canadian major junior ranks and start fostering directly in the Black and Gold system.

2010-11 Highlights (With three teams)
· Scored a power-play goal and two assists in Prince Albert’s 9-3 win at Lethbridge Nov. 19
· Assisted on the game-winner and was on the ice for four goals in Prince Albert’s 5-1 win over the Everett Silvertips Dec. 11.
· Etched an assist in three of his final four games with Prince Albert before being traded to the Seattle Thunderbirds in January.
· Posted a cumulative plus-5 rating over three games in four nights (Feb. 23-26) for the Thunderbirds.
· Scored his first professional point with an assist in the P-Bruins 3-2 road win over Springfield April 9.

2010-11 Lowlights
· Had a minus-3 rating in five separate Western League games, three for Prince Albert and two for Seattle.
· Finished with a minus-4 over 44 games with Prince Albert and again over 25 games with Seattle. (Although, in fairness, the majority of the Thunderbirds and Raiders finished with comparatively egregious ratings.)
· Held without a shot on goal for three consecutive AHL games after landing one SOG in each of his first three appearances with Providence.

2011-12 Outlook
Seeing as the parent Boston Bruins classify him as “in the system,” Button has some time to take before he thinks about so much as a matinee latte at the TD Garden. And apart from three established returnees plus an off-and-on AHLer in Alain Goulet, Providence has some depth to build up on defense.

Accordingly, head coach Bruce Cassidy should ask Button to step up right off the draw and waste no time building upon the trial tastes he got at the end of last season.

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Andrew Bodnarchuk

Opening statement
Andrew Bodnarchuk appears primed to join Zach Hamill as the P-Bruins’ only returning holdovers from newly-elevated head coach Bruce Cassidy’s first day as Rob Murray’s assistant in 2008-09.

As such, Bodnarchuk will add on to that unique group of 22 players who have seen substantial action with the P-Bruins in four consecutive regular seasons. And if he has enough iron, he should easily surpass Zdenek Kutlak as the franchise’s all-time games-played leader among defensemen.

2010-11 Highlights
· Career-best 15 assists and 16 points on the year.
· Assisted on two of team’s four goals in a Feb. 25 road win over Abbotsford.
· Was on the ice for four of the team’s six goals, including each of the first three, in a 6-2 home win over Bridgeport Nov. 5.

2010-11 Lowlights
· Plus/minus reached a season-worst minus-20 during a 7-0 road loss to Portland Feb. 16.
· Went through his first 73 games of the season without scoring a goal.
· Was on the ice for five opposing goals, including a shorthanded strike, in an 8-2 loss at Springfield Feb. 12.

2011-12 Outlook
Only one defenseman in Cassidy’s dressing room has ever entered the same room and pulled on the Spoked-P for a Calder Cup playoff game.

The fact that Bodnarchuk has the distinction of living through all of the lows of the last two years as well as the highs of a run to the 2009 Eastern Conference finals just might have factored into his recent one-year contract extension.

He should use that familiarity wisely and step it up in the coming year. With his repertoire and this lineup, Bodnarchuk personifies the P-Bruins’ state of having a lot to lose as they try to get back above the AHL’s playoff poverty line.

Monday, September 19, 2011

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Matt Bartkowski

Opening statement
If Boston’s training camp takes shape according to the consensus forecast, then Matt Bartkowski will be on the opening night roster for Providence rather than sitting among healthy scratches at the NHL Premiere in Europe.

In turn, he figures to join Andrew Bodnarchuk and Nathan McIver to form the returning corps from last year’s P-Bruins blue line brigade. Of the returning defensemen, those are the only three who donned the Spoked-P at least 50 times, let alone 60 or more, in 2010-11.

2010-11 Highlights
· Led all P-Bruins defensemen with 18 assists and 23 points on the year.
· Earned the opportunity to play six games for the parent club.
· Scored two assists and posted a plus-3 rating at Portland Nov. 6.
· Had a four-game point-scoring streak (two goals, three assists) between Nov. 6 and Nov. 13.
· Scored two assists in a Feb. 20 home bout with Worcester and against on Feb. 26 at Abbotsford.
· Had two stints in Boston, seeing action in a total of six games.

2010-11 Lowlights
· Placed dead-last on the team with a minus-17 rating.
· Was on the ice for all three opposing goals in a 3-1 home loss to Connecticut Dec. 3.
· Posted a negative rating in each of seven consecutive games-played and nine in a span of 11 games during the month of February.

2011-12 Outlook
With six established veterans plus Steven Kampfer already on Boston’s blue line, Bartkowski ought to spend the majority of his second professional season in Providence.

So long as he is around, he could stand to refine his day job, as evidenced by his mix of playmaking proficiency and vinegary defensive stats. There is no reason why a player as touted as Bartkowski should be pitching in 23 points while still letting enough opponents slip by his post to finish with a minus-17 rating.

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Jamie Arniel

Opening statement
You may have (quite understandably) missed it in the five-odd months of floundering the P-Bruins did en route to yet another playoff no-go. But Jamie Arniel averted the sophomore slump and instead had a sophomore surge last season.

On the other side of an ankle injury that sidelined him for the homestretch of his rookie year, Arniel elevated his productivity rate from where it was in 2009-10. And there should be plenty of room and opportunity to take another step forward with the prospective cast of teammates for 2010-11.

2010-11 Highlights
· Led the team with 23 goals and 50 points while missing only two games, which was due to a brief promotion to Boston.
· Improved upon his rookie totals from 2009-10 by 11 goals and 22 points.
· Scored three overtime goals within the first 17 games of the season.
· Converted five out of nine shootout attempts and scored two shootout clinchers.
· Was held without a single shot on goal in only two out of 78 games-played.
· Had at least one point in nine out of 10 games in November, finishing the month with six goals and 12 points.
· Two three-point outings (goal, two assists): One at home versus Bridgeport Nov. 5 and the other in the Whale Bowl against Connecticut Feb. 19.
· Three two-goal games: Oct. 23 at Worcester, March 20 versus Portland and April 1 versus Connecticut.
· Had a two-point outing and plus-4 rating for the Eastern Conference at the AHL All-Star Game.

2010-11 Lowlights
· Ranked near the bottom of the team leaderboard in plus/minus with a minus-10 rating.
· Went 21 consecutive games without scoring a goal, beginning on Dec. 31 at Manchester and ending on Feb. 12 at Springfield.
· Finished a single night with a minus-2 rating on eight occasions.

2011-12 Outlook
As much as the summer spotlight may have focused on the re-signing of goaltender Anton Khudobin and seasoned captain Trent Whitfield, the P-Bruins will also need an offensive sparkplug.

And if Jordan Caron is going to become a full-time NHLer this year (no guarantee, but a distinct possibility), then it’s on Arniel to elevate his productivity yet again in his third professional season. As Arniel goes, so goes the Providence attack, which means the 30-goal and 70-point range are the ideal minimum for him.

All that will take is a little consistency, which was egregiously lacking during his January drought last season.

In a way, Arniel is to the Baby Bs what Patrice Bergeron was to the parent club a handful of seasons ago. While young and unripe in his own right, he will be a veteran compared to the likes of Carter Camper and Kyle MacKinnon. And he will have a largely unparalleled familiarity with the environment.

Accordingly, he is one of those who will have to lead by example as this rash of rookies finds its collective self at the professional level.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Providence Bruins All-Time All-Star Team: Forwards

As part of the website’s year-long commemoration of the Providence Bruins’ 20th anniversary season, Daniel’s Den has selected 20 P-Bruins and assembled an all-time all-star squad.

To conclude this two-part release and round out this ultimate fantasy team, here are the top 12 forwards in P-Bruins history.

First-line Left Wing: Tim Sweeney
Only a select few players have averaged more than a point per game during a protracted Spoked-P stint. But only Sweeney has come close to averaging 1.5 points per night.

Over three separate stints with the team, he accumulated 71 goals and 101 helpers in 121 games-played for a nightly median of 1.42 points. And between two Calder Cup playoff runs, he partook in 16 contests, scoring 10 goals and 19 assists for an average of 1.81 points per night.

And in each of four individual regular seasons (1992-93, 1994-95, 1995-96, 1996-97) and two postseasons (1993 and 1995), Sweeney never once finished with fewer points than games-played.

First-line Center: Sergei Zholtok
The late Latvian producer set the P-Bruins scoring standard early and often. A member of the Bruins’ organization for each of the team’s first three years of fostering its prospects in Providence, Zholtok played in 196 regular-season games and posted 83 goals, 103 assists and 186 points.

When he left for the IHL’s Las Vegas Thunder in the summer of 1995, he led the P-Bruins franchise in all three of those categories. His records stood for nearly a decade until Andy Hilbert surpassed each of them.

But it took Hilbert an extra season to do that. And there have been 10 other Providence forwards who have played more games but scored substantially fewer points than Zholtok.

First-line Right Wing: Peter Ferraro
A point-per-game player in his three seasons with the P-Bruins, which perhaps not-so-coincidentally were the years that saw Providence put in three straight appearances in the Calder Cup semifinals.

Arriving on a demotion from the parent club in the middle of the historic 1998-99 season, Ferraro did nothing but stoke the already-stimulated Civic Center masses. He played in 16 regular-season games, scoring two hat tricks and a total of 15 goals. From there, he garnered playoff MVP accolades with a 9-12-21 scoring log in 19 contests.

By the end of his Black and Gold tenure, Ferraro had 142 points in 142 games with the P-Bruins. He coupled that with 18 goals and 42 points in 49 postseason ventures.

Second-line Left Wing: Brett Harkins
A peerlessly prolific playmaker in the history of the franchise, Harkins etched 100 assists over 108 games between two P-Bruins stints. Only seven players have logged more in their Providence career and they each played in at least 14 more games than Harkins.

Harkins’ most fruitful of two years with the P-Bruins was his first in 1994-95. Teaming up with the likes of Sandy Moger, Fred Knipscheer and Tim Tookey, he topped the Providence scoring chart with 92 points, 29 more than the runner-up Knipscheer. And his 69 assists tied him with Cape Breton’s Peter White for the league lead.

From there, Harkins tied two teammates with eight goals and led the P-Bruins with 22 points in 13 playoff games.

Second-line Center: Andy Hilbert
So far, Hilbert is the only person to hit the century mark in the way of both goals and assists while wearing the Spoked-P.

Boston’s second-round choice in the 2000 NHL Draft, Hilbert spent four years in the Bruins system, playing the better part of three in Providence. In each of those three years, he never scored any fewer than 25 goals or assists.

His grand Black-and-Gold finale was in the 2004-05 NHL lockout year, when he collaborated with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Boyes to steer an entertaining Baby Bs roster to the Eastern Conference finals. Along the way, he broke all of Zholtok’s franchise scoring records and piloted the offense through the playoffs with seven goals and 21 points in 17 games.

Second-line Right Wing: Eric Nickulas
Nickulas was not always the most radiant producer in his four seasons and two separate stints with the P-Bruins, although he did place first on the 1998-99 team with 31 regular-season goals.

What makes Nickulas particularly memorable, though, is his mastery of clutch situations. In his first three seasons with the P-Bruins (1998-2001), 13 out of his 57 goals were game-winners, a tie for the franchise record.

During his brief return to the team in 2005-06, he took that record all for himself when he scored in overtime to beat the Springfield Falcons on March 11, 2006.

Third-line Left Wing: Jozef Stumpel
Despite playing in only 56 out of 80 regular-season games, Stumpel was second only to Sweeney on the inaugural P-Bruins team with 92 points on the year. He tied Zholtok for third on the team with 31 goals and led all Spoked-Ps with 62 assists.

The following year, he averaged a point-per-game with five goals and 12 helpers in 17 AHL outings before he earned a permanent roster spot in Boston. With that, for more than a decade, he was the only P-Bruin to score more than 100 points in fewer than 100 appearances, logging 109 in a mere 73 games.

Third-line Center: Randy Robitaille
With an average of exactly on assist per game (74) and 28 goals, Robitaille became the first P-Bruin with a triple-digit point campaign en route to AHL MVP honors in 1999.

And by all accounts, he wasn’t so shabby the year prior, either. Appearing in only 48 games for a team that would finish as the league’s bottom-feeders, Robitaille placed fifth on the 1997-98 Providence scoring chart with 44 points.

His 29 helpers put him in a three-way tie for second on that year’s team leaderboard with Kirk Neilsen and Barry Richter, who appeared in 72 and 75 games, respectively.

Third-line Right Wing: Cameron Mann
In each of four seasons in the Bruins organization, Mann saw action in both Providence and Boston. He tallied 21 goals in back-to-back years with the P-Bruins in 1997-98 and 1998-99, but those identical numbers were not indicative of his improvement.

Rather, whereas Mann required 71 games to insert those 21 strikes as a rookie, he equated that output in only 43 AHL twirls in 1998-99. In addition, he personified the team’s turnaround by improving his plus/minus rating a whopping 42 points (from minus-27 to plus-15).

And over the course of two Calder Cup playoff runs, the first of which he joined late after first playing in the parent clubs’ postseason, Mann amassed a 13-14-27 scoring log in 22 games.

Fourth-line Left Wing: Eric Manlow
Despite playing in only 48 games, Manlow placed second on the 1999-2000 team with 17 regular-season goals and then led Providence with six goals and 14 points in the playoffs.

The following year, he appeared in 60 regular-season games and finished as the P-Bruins top playmaker with 51 assists. And once again, he led the team in playoff scoring with six goals and 13 points as Providence put in its third straight appearance in the Eastern Conference finals.

By the end of his three-year stay, Manlow had logged 46 goals and 102 points in 176 games.

Fourth-line Center: David Krejci
To date, Krejci is the only player other than Stumpel to have finished his Providence career with more than 100 points within fewer than 100 games.

Krejci would last one full rookie year in the AHL, during which he led the team in both regular-season and playoff scoring, most notably assisting on 13 goals in as many playoff tilts in 2007. He would then play 25 more games in 2007-08 before earning a permanent spot in The Show circa New Year’s 2008.

By that point, he had played in 94 regular-season games for the P-Bruins, scoring 38 goals and 64 assists for 102 points.

Fourth-line Right Wing: Andre Savage
Savage joined the P-Bruins fresh out of Michigan Tech and finished third on the 1998-99 team leaderboard with 27 goals and second with 69 points.

Over the next two seasons, split almost evenly between the NHL and AHL, he saw action in 75 games for Providence, scoring 28 goals and 60 points in that span. In addition, he pitched in nine goals and 20 points in a cumulative 31 playoff games.

In 1999-2000, Savage was one of only two P-Bruins (along with late-season acquisition Jason Krog) to average more than a point per game, amassing 15 goals and 32 points in 30 twirls.

Taxi Squad: Keith Aucoin, Brad Boyes, Grigori Panteleev, Pascal Pelletier