Saturday, October 1, 2011

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Yannick Riendeau

Opening statement
Entering his third year in the Bruins system, winger Yannick Riendeau undertakes two natural ambitions in ascending order of loftiness: To stave off injury and to become a regular in the AHL.

2010-11 Highlights (With Providence and Reading)
• Took at least one shot on goal in every AHL appearance.
• Enjoyed a 10-game point-scoring streak with Reading between Dec. 28 and Jan. 21, charging up 5-8-13 totals within that span.
• Went on a hot streak (Dec. 12-Feb. 4) that saw him score at least one point in 16 out of 19 appearances with Reading, notching a cumulative seven goals in 14 assists for 21 points.
• Made it through 17 consecutive games (Jan. 29-March 6) without taking a single penalty.
• Curtained the regular season with a 7-5-12 scoring log over the last 15 outings.
• Averaged a point per game in the Kelly Cup playoffs, charging up a total of five goals and three assists, including four strikes in the Royals’ final three games.

2010-11 Lowlights
• Saw action in six AHL games after appearing in 22 during the 2009-10 campaign. Suited up with the P-Bruins five times before mid-November and only once afterward.
• Received a 10-minute misconduct with 6:26 remaining in a 4-0 loss to the South Carolina Stingrays Dec. 9.
• Posted a minus-1 rating during a one-game call-up to Providence on Feb. 12.
• Was on the ice for all three opposing goals in the Royals’ 4-3 shootout loss to the Florida Everblades Jan. 21.
• Endured a 20-game cold spell between Jan. 22 and March 12, tuning the opponent’s mesh only twice and going on separate goal-less streaks of seven and six outings in that span.

2011-12 Outlook
On a slightly smaller scale, Riendeau has been learning the Zach Hamill lesson. He has lost a fair amount of footing on the Bruins prospects’ chart and regaining that at this point will be tougher than corking a busted sprinkler.

If only for cautionary purposes, one should bank on Riendeau making a couple of cameos with the P-Bruins, at best.

But should he pole-vault enough of his peers and spend the better part of the season in Providence, it will be an out-and-out credit to a solid summer of training and refinement.

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Calle Ridderwall

Opening statement
Late this past offseason, the Providence Bruins opted to sign an undrafted, Stockholm-raised Notre Dame alumnus for the coming campaign.

With that, Calle Ridderwall will vie for a spot on the P-Bruins depth chart with fellow college graduates Carter Camper and Kyle MacKinnon. And he will join Colby Cohen as another recent Frozen Four clutch performers (See: 2008, Notre Dame vs. Michigan and 2009, Boston University vs. Miami) to subsequently enroll in Bruce Cassidy’s capstone project.

2010-11 Highlights (With Notre Dame)
• Placed third on the Fighting Irish leaderboard with 16 goals and five power-play strikes, despite missing five of the team’s 44 games.
• Singlehandedly outscored Boston College for a 2-1 Notre Dame victory Oct. 23.
• Inserted his first career shorthanded goal and added an assist as part of a 6-2, Nov. 19 win over Michigan State.
• Had a hand in four goals, including a playmaker hat trick, as part of Notre Dame’s 10-2 throttling of Canisius on Dec. 29.
• Took only three minor penalties in his last 18 games, including none in any of his last six.
• Charged up four goals and five points in eight postseason outings, including the last goal of the Fighting Irish season in a 4-3 Frozen Four semifinal loss to Minnesota-Duluth, the eventual national champions.
• Set up former Providence College defenseman and Notre Dame captain Joe Lavin’s eventual clincher to beat Lake Superior State, 4-2, in the rubber game of the best-of-three CCHA quarterfinals.

2010-11 Lowlights
• Fell short of his career-high point total of 32 (set as a sophomore in 2008-09) for the second consecutive season.
• Took a five-minute major for boarding with 3:37 left in the third period of a Nov. 20 clash with Michigan State.
• Went five games without a point between Nov. 26 and Dec. 11.

2011-12 Outlook
Like so many other fresh U.S. college graduates and job-seekers flowing in from other corners of the world, Ridderwall may find a tight job market in the dressing room at The Dunk. But depending on how smoothly he translates his scoring touch from the NCAA to the AHL, there ought to be at least a semi-regular position for him on game nights in Providence.

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Tyler Randell

Opening statement
When he is not chipping in on one sector of the scoresheet, Tyler Randell is contributing to the other side with a chippy style of play. The Boston Bruins sixth-round draft choice from 2009 now leaves his tracks on a four-year major junior career and looks to join the AHL on the heels of leading the Kitchener Rangers with 160 penalty minutes.

2010-11 Highlights (With Kitchener Rangers)
• Played in all 68 regular-season games, scored a career-high 20 goals and matched his previous output with 12 assists.
• Inserted a power-play conversion at 8:58 of the third period to break a 2-2 tie and ultimately beat the Saginaw Spirit, 5-2, on opening night.
• Two multi-goal games (Dec. 7 and Feb. 4).
• Tallied 12 goals and 17 points in a span of 18 games between Dec. 30 and Feb. 11.
• Steadily improved his plus/minus by 10 points (from minus-8 to plus-2) over the month of January.
• Tuned the mesh once in each of four consecutive games and added three assists in the same span (Jan. 16-Jan. 26).

2010-11 Lowlights
• Was on the ice for none of Kitchener’s goal but for three opposing goals in a 5-4, Nov. 7 win over the London Knights.
• Failed to cultivate a point in 11 out of 12 games between Nov. 19 and Dec. 18.
• Plus/minus rating hit a season-low minus-9 on Nov. 27.
• Finished the regular season and playoffs without scoring a single goal in 16 games.
• Went pointless in Kitchener’s first-round loss to the Plymouth Whalers, posting a minus-2 rating in Game 7, a 4-2 Plymouth victory.

2011-12 Outlook
As he vies to plug a coveted opening on the P-Bruins roster and transition to the professional, Randell will likely come off as a fourth-line type. His development as a point-getter stalled a bit last year, as evidenced by his scoring 12 assists in back-to-back years despite missing 21 games in 2009-10 and playing the full breadth of 2010-11.

With priority going to higher-rated prospects and proven contributors on the front lines, Randell is likely bound for the ECHL for the better part of this season.

Friday, September 30, 2011

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Kevan Miller

Opening statement
Within two weeks of finishing his college career at the University of Vermont, stay-at-home defenseman Kevan Miller plunged right into the professional environs on an amateur tryout with the P-Bruins last spring. In his third of six AHL games, he even scuffled with Connecticut Whale blueliner Jared Nightingale during a March 27 tilt, his first pro game on home ice.

Providence has chosen to bring the youngster back for more power and punch on the home front in 2011-12.

2010-11 Highlights (With Vermont and the P-Bruins)
• Captained a besieged Vermont team and was one of only two Catamounts to finish the year with a positive plus/minus rating.
• Landed four shots on net, pitched in an assist and posted a plus-2 rating in a 2-2 draw with Merrimack Oct. 23.
• Notched an assist on the Catamounts’ final goal Nov. 6 as they held on to tie Providence College, 3-3.
• Scored his only goal of the season and finished the night with a plus-2 rating as part of a 3-1, Jan. 2 triumph over Harvard.
• Came back for the final weekend of the Hockey East regular season and two postseason games after missing nine ventures with an injury.
• Finished his amateur tryout with a plus-2 rating, recorded entirely within a 5-4 P-Bruins victory over Portland on April 8.

2010-11 Lowlights
• Scored a college career-low three assists and four points as a senior, which was only partially attributable to his injury.
• Took a five-minute major for boarding in a 3-0 loss at Yale on Dec. 8. The Bulldogs used the protracted power play for a critical insurance strike at 6:00 of the third period.
• Posted a minus-1 rating in each of four consecutive games between Jan. 15 and Jan. 28.
• Was on the ice for the opposition’s go-ahead goal with three minutes left in regulation, then took a cross-checking penalty with 1:31 to spare as New Hampshire eliminated the Catamounts from the Hockey East quarterfinals, 4-3.

2011-12 Outlook
On the one hand, with so much established traffic coming back, as well as two sound major-junior products in Ryan Button and Mark Cantin, Miller will have a hard time becoming an AHL regular anytime soon. Barring any impactful twists, expect him to see substantial time with the Reading Royals.

On the other hand, with his build (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) and his propensity to use it so assertively, Miller should make formidable competition with Marvin Degnon, Alain Goulet and Zach McKelvie for call-ups when and if the P-Bruins need reinforcement on their blue line.

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Zach McKelvie and Nathan McIver

Author’s note: Due to military duties, defenseman Zach McKelvie has not seen game action since his senior year at the U.S. Military Academy in 2008-09. As a result, there are no reliable game logs to assess.

2011-12 Outlook
There is no questioning McKelvie’s ability to stay in athletic condition in two years away from high-profile hockey. That being said, there is no substitute for playing the game in a formal setting and on a professional regimen.

McKelvie has some catching up to do on the Bruins’ minor-league depth chart and might end up splitting this year by an uncertain ratio between Providence and Reading.

Nathan McIver
Opening statement

The Providence Bruins’ resident bruising, brawling blueliner has yet to play in front of prized goaltender Anton Khudobin. McIver saw action in 60 games last year, but was sidelined with an injury for the rest of the run precisely one week and one game before Khudobin debuted in the organization.

Although, McIver still had enough time to retain a team-leading 176 penalty minutes.

2010-11 Highlights
• Took four shots on goal within the first five games.
• Logged a plus-3 rating as part of a 6-1 home win over Bridgeport Nov. 5.
• Amassed his only three points of the season, all of them assists, in a span of 15 games between Nov. 24 and Dec. 31.
• Twice went through three consecutive games without taking any penalties, once to open and once to curtain the month of January.

2010-11 Lowlights
• Placed second-to-last on the team, only one point behind Matt Bartkowski, with a minus-16 rating. That rating also more than doubled a personal career-low in six professional seasons.
• Posted a negative rating in each of six consecutive outings between Nov. 6 and Nov. 19.
• Landed only eight shots on goal within his last 34 games-played after taking 14 shots in his first 26.

2011-12 Outlook
At the time of this year’s opening draw, it will have been more than seven months since McIver last saw formal, extramural game action. But as early as late March, he was taking easy, full-gear twirls around the Dunk pond, so he ought to be in reasonable game shape and raring to protect the likes of Khudobin and the team’s many leaned-on scorers.

This Date In Providence Bruins History; September 30-October 2

September 30, 1994
The newfangled line of Sandy Moger, Brett Harkins and player/assistant coach Tim Tookey sparkles to help the P-Bruins win Steve Kasper's coaching debut. Tookey and Moger grab two goals and two assists while Harkins charges up a playmaker hat trick to fuel a 5-4 home victory over Hershey. To this date, it is the only regular-season game the P-Bruins have ever played in September.

October 1
: For the first time in their three years of existence, the P-Bruins get off to a 2-0-0 start by edging the Adirondack Red Wings, 4-3, at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

1999: The P-Bruins begin to defend their Calder Cup title with a 6-1 win at St. John's

October 2
: The P-Bruins rout the host St. John's Maple Leafs, 6-1, for the second consecutive night, improving the defending champions record to 2-0-0.

2002: A 7-3 exhibition victory over Springfield constitutes the inaugural event at the University of Rhode Island's Boss Arena.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Kyle MacKinnon

Opening statement
Two weeks removed from his Senior Night ceremonies at Providence College last March, Kyle MacKinnon garnered a bite-sized extension to his skating stay in the Divine City. Within another two weeks, he elevated the implications of his extension by seeing action in five of the P-Bruins last six games in April.

And now, he shall extend his stay all the more through a one-year deal with the P-Bruins.

2010-11 Highlights (With Providence College and P-Bruins)
• Led the Friars with 14 goals and 100 shots on net.
• Scored two goals in an Oct. 15 visit to Minnesota-Duluth, the eventual NCAA champions.
• Had a hand in two goals, including an assist on the game-clincher, to beat UMass-Amherst, 3-2, Oct. 30.
• Scored his second college hat trick on eight shots to singlehandedly defeat Alabama-Huntsville, 3-1, Nov. 12.
• Had a hand in both PC goals, including an assist on the game-winner, to beat Holy Cross, 2-1, Nov. 27.
• Made his AHL debut April 1 and scored the game-winner in the P-Bruins 3-2 road victory over Springfield on April 9.

2010-11 Lowlights
• Finished last among all Skating Friars with a minus-14 rating on the year.
• Was on the ice for four opposing goals in a 7-1 loss to Minnesota-Duluth on Oct. 16.
• Endured a four-game pointless drought between Dec. 4 and Jan. 7.
• Was on the ice for all three goals in a Feb. 11 loss to Boston College.
• Inserted 10 goals within the first 15 games of the college season, only to close out with four strikes in a span of 19 outings.
• Season rating dropped 10 points from a minus-4 to a minus-14 over his final 12 games as a Friar.

2011-12 Outlook
For this undrafted winger who grew up on the opposite coast in Walnut, Calif., the opportunity to join and contribute to a down-and-slowly-recovering P-Bruins team was chiefly a product of serendipity. To start his amateur tryout, MacKinnon paid his dues in two weeks of strict practice and was rewarded by playing five AHL games and notching three points along the way.

So long as he does not leave that work ethic unsupervised, MacKinnon should make first-year head coach and former assistant Bruce Cassidy happy to have him for at least one season.

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Kirk MacDonald

Opening statement
Right winger Kirk MacDonald enters his third full season with the Providence Bruins on the heels of back-to-back career campaigns in most every offensive category. Yet considering the fact that he managed to tie Max Sauve for third on the team with a mere 38 points last season, one would think there ought to be more for him to cultivate.

2010-11 Highlights
• Scored a career-high 15 goals and broke double-digits in the assists column (23) for the first time in his four full professional seasons.
• Landed 200 shots on goal, the second-most on the tea behind Jamie Arniel.
• Tuned the mesh in each of the P-Bruins first two games of the season.
• Logged at least one assist in three consecutive games for a total of four in that span (Oct. 31-Nov. 6).
• Chipped in seven helpers within a span of nine games between Oct. 31 and Nov. 21.
• Took only one minor penalty in a span of 32 games between Dec. 11 and Feb. 13.
• Had a five-game point streak (four goals, one assist) between Dec. 18 and Dec. 31.
• Enjoyed five multipoint outings, including a 1-2-3 log in a 4-2, March 25 victory at Worcester.
• Scored two goals, including the game-winner, to beat the Connecticut Whale, 4-2, March 27.

2010-11 Lowlights
• Went on a 25-game goal-less skid, beginning after Oct. 9 and not ending until Dec. 18.
• Was on the ice for four opposing goals in an 8-2 loss at Springfield Feb. 12.
• Took six penalty minutes, including a high-sticking double-minor, in a 7-0 loss at Portland on Feb. 16.
• Endured two separate seven-game goal-scoring droughts while chipping in only one marker over a span of 15 contests between Feb. 12 and March 20.
• Endured a 10-game cold spell between Feb. 12 and March 4, cultivating one goal and no assists.
• Had two other goal-less skids (Jan. 8-Jan. 18 and March 29-Apr. 10), each lasting six games.

2011-12 Outlook
With more consistency as both a playmaker and a finisher, MacDonald can verify his veteran status in his fifth AHL campaign and be a leader-by-example on the Providence scoring brigade.

More than anything, MacDonald’s shooting accuracy needs some sprucing up. It was certainly stimulating to see him thrust an even 200 shots on net in 2010-11 after only 117 the previous year. But with that many more tries, he ought to have put a few more in the cage than 15 if he inserted 14 in 2009-10.

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Lane MacDermid

Opening statement
In each of his first two professional seasons, Hartford native and Providence winger Lane MacDermid has constituted one-half of the P-Bruins 1-2 pugilist punch. No reason to expect that to change in Year 3, but his impact on the scoring front is on the right course to steadily ascend.

2010-11 Highlights
• Improved his plus/minus rating by 13 points from the previous season, finishing with a plus-3, making him one of only four Providence skaters to retain a positive rating in more than 60 games-played. And this was after MacDermid’s rating stood at a minus-7 on New Year’s.
• Went from a 2-3-5 scoring log in 65 games as a rookie to 7-12-19 totals in 78 games last year.
• Notched an assist in each installment of a season-opening home-and-home series versus Springfield.
• Charged up his first two-point game Feb. 18 with a goal and an assist as part of an eventual 4-3 shootout win over Portland.
• Took at least one shot on net in 35 of his last 39 games-played.
• Scored six goals and 10 assists over his last 41 games-played.

2010-11 Lowlights
• Scored one goal and two assists over his first 35 games-played.
• Accumulated a minus-4 rating in a span of three games over one weekend to curtain the month of October.
• Was on the ice for three opposing goals in a 6-2 loss at Abbotsford on Feb. 26.
• Went on a 14-game pointless skid, beginning on Nov. 21 and running through the end of December.
• Endured a three-month cold spell that saw him score two goals and one assist within a span of 35 games (Oct. 15-Jan. 15).

2011-12 Outlook
MacDermid turned a few heads at Boston’s training camp. He even shoveled in a goal during the preseason opener against Ottawa while playing on a line with Shawn Thornton.

Was that scoring play symbolic of things to come at The Dunk? Will the pugnacious winger elevate his offensive punch to become Thornton’s AHL equivalent?

At the rate he has gone, especially given how much he pitched in during the second half of last season, cracking double-digits in the goal column is not out of the question for MacDermid.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Five Things The Providence Bruins Have Never Done In Their History

As part of the site’s ongoing commemoration of the Providence Bruins’ 20th anniversary, Daniel’s Den would like to remind everyone that, as history-laden as they are, the P-Bruins are still a fairly young entity.

There is no more effective way to underline that notion than to sniff out some of the achievements that are still conspicuously absent in the Spoked-P annals.

On that note, here are the five most prominent items that have never come up in the P-Bruins first two decades of existence:

A Series-Deciding Game on Home Ice
Whether it has been a best-of-three qualifying round, best-of-five or best-of-seven series, the P-Bruins have seen action in six go-on-or-go-home games in the Calder Cup playoffs. Most astonishingly, they are 5-1 in that scenario.

Here is the all-time Game 5/7 log:
1995, Northern Division semifinals, Game 7: Providence 6, Portland 3
1997, New England Division semifinals, Game 5: Providence 3, Worcester 2
2000, Eastern Conference finals, Game 7: Hartford 3, Providence 2 (OT)
2001, New England Division semifinals, Game 5: Providence 2, Hartford 1
2001, New England Division finals, Game 7: Providence 3, Worcester 2 (OT)
2007, Atlantic Division semifinals, Game 7: Providence 5, Hartford 4

What is so astonishing about this (apart from the fact two one of those wins came against a defending Calder Cup champion, one against a regular-season champion and two after trailing a best-of-five series, 2-0)?

The answer is that all six of these games were played somewhere other than the Divine City. On another eight occasions, the P-Bruins have come within one game of staging a rubber game in Providence. But in five of those cases, they lost the series by a two-game margin. In the other three—including two during their 1999 championship run—they cut off the opposition’s rally.

But this trend could reverse at any time, provided the P-Bruins garner home ice for any playoff series.

An Award-winning Goaltender
Two of their coaches have won the Louis A.R. Pieri Award. Two of their defenseman have garnered an Eddie Shore Award. Their hallmark championship campaign came with both an AHL regular-season and playoff MVP.

All this, and yet no Bruins backstop has ever corralled the Baz Bastien Award as the league’s most valuable goaltender. John Blue never did it. John Grahame never did it. Andrew Raycroft, Hannu Toivonen and Tuukka Rask never bested all of their AHL peers.

Not even Vezina Trophy winners Jim Carey or Tim Thomas topped the league goaltending ranks while laboring for Providence.

Might Anton Khudobin splash the team’s life-long drought? There’s an item worth filing under the burning questions for this season.

A Game on the Parents’ Pond
Unfortunately, this scenario is even less conceivable now that the AHL has whittled two home dates off of every team’s regular-season schedule. Unless, of course, there was a way to guarantee a full house at TD Garden and make sure a hefty share of the revenue went directly to the P-Bruins.

So many other AHL teams with neighboring NHL affiliates have done this. And the Pawtucket Red Sox have annual their “Futures at Fenway” affair. So why couldn’t the Baby Bs, a part of the longest living AHL-NHL partnership and one of the best road draws in the league, convince Boston’s busy venue to let them come up for just one Friday night or weekend afternoon?

If they were to face off with the likes of Manchester, Springfield or Worcester in this game, so much the better. Together, the two teams could offer a multitude of regional fans, especially youth groups, an otherwise unrealistic opportunity to take in a pro game at an NHL venue. In turn, they could max out the 17,565 seating capacity and give their respective treasuries a little booster injection.

Not to mention, 19 aspiring Boston Bruins could whet their appetite to make the Garden their regular workplace at a time other than the NHL preseason.

A Bout with an Opponent from Cleveland
Local hockey history scholars all know that before the P-Bruins’ 1999 title run, the city’s last Calder Cup crown came in 1956, courtesy of the Providence Reds and their four-game sweep of the Cleveland Barons.

And in terms of cumulative seasons, whether they are consecutive or nonconsecutive, Cleveland and Providence are in the AHL’s platinum longevity club, opposite Hershey, Rochester, Springfield and Syracuse.

And yet the P-Bruins have never crossed paths with an adversary from northern Ohio. They could have engaged the most recent version of the Barons at any time between 2001 and 2006, but never did. (They have, however, played the each of the Barons two sandwiching incarnations—the Kentucky Thoroughblades and the Worcester Sharks.)

And since 2007, the Lake Erie Monsters have drawn enough puckheads to Quicken Loans Arena, but so far have yet to reel in an opponent from New England.

Isn’t it high time that changed?

An Engagement with Grand Rapids, Oklahoma City or Peoria
Of the other 29 active AHL cities, the P-Bruins have exchanged multiple visits with all but four.

There is still time to break the ice, but it is perplexing as to why they have been paired up with Abbotsford a cumulative eight times in each of the previous two seasons while never facing the Peoria Rivermen or Grand Rapids Griffins, who have each been in the league longer.

The lack of a Grand Rapids matchup is especially peculiar. The Griffins fled the caving-in IHL to join the AHL in 2001, along with the Chicago Wolves, Houston Aeros, Milwaukee Admirals and two teams that no longer exist.

Providence has tangled with Chicago, Houston and Milwaukee in three different seasons. But in all of 10 years as AHL cohabitants, they have yet to either welcome the Griffins or venture into Michigan.

There would have been no better time than this season to buck that trend. Newly elevated P-Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy guided the Griffins through both their final IHL and inaugural AHL season, garnering the Louis A.R. Pieri Award along the way.

If Cassidy’s P-Bruins stopped in at Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Arena, it would indubitably make for an appetizing feature story, generating the kind of publicity that the AHL perpetually pines for. Same thing if the P-Bruins faced incumbent captain Trent Whitfield’s old employers from Peoria.

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Anton Khudobin

Opening statement
As a newly obtained goaltender for the Providence Bruins last season, Anton Khudobin brandished a handful of common threads between himself and his immediate predecessor, Nolan Schaefer.

Just like Schaefer, Khudobin has taken his nibbles and slurps of NHL ice chips while spending the bulk of his career in the American League. Like Schaefer, Khudobin once partook in a recent AHL All-Star Game while fostering in the Minnesota Wild organization as a member of the Houston Aeros.

But the one critically favorable difference is the long-absent stability that Khudobin brought to the Providence crease after Schaefer whiffed on his five-month swing in the organization. In essence, Khudobin was Schaefer’s reliever in a 2010-11 season lost beyond his control.

2010-11 Highlights (With Houston and Providence)
• Won four consecutive starts (Oct. 30-Nov. 6) for Houston after losing each of his first three.
• Helped to shut out the Grand Rapids Griffins, 5-0, with a 28-save performance on Nov. 19.
• Won five straight games for the Aeros, including three straight in overtime or a shootout, between Nov. 27 and Dec. 10.
• Won six consecutive appearances with the Aeros between Jan. 22 and Feb. 11.
• Acquired by Boston from Minnesota in exchange for Jeff Penner and won each of his first four Providence starts, including a 20-save shutout of Bridgeport at The Dunk March 6.
• Stopped 41 out of 43 shots, including 24 out of 25 in the third period, to salvage a 3-2 season-finale win over the Manchester Monarchs.

2010-11 Lowlights
• Pulled from a 5-2, Dec. 12 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters after allowing three goals on 11 shots through the 5:32 mark of the second period.
• Pulled at 13:02 of the second period in a 5-0, Dec. 21 loss to Hamilton after letting in five out of 17 shots-faced.
• Pulled after playing only seven minutes and 55 seconds, giving up two goals on three shots in an eventual 5-2 loss to Grand Rapids.
• Stopped only 20 out of 25 shots in a 5-4 P-Bruins loss at Portland on March 12.

2011-12 Outlook
Khudobin personified the belated consistency that the P-Bruins reaped entering the homestretch of last season. He took credit for a 9-4-1 transcript as he backstopped the better part of a 12-6-1 finish to the year, which did no short-term good besides delaying the Baby Bs’ abolition from playoff contention.

But now is the P-Bruins chance to carry their strong finish over and strut back into sincere contention. Along with that is Khudobin’s chance to build upon the promising tone he set in March and April. He will be leaned upon to deliver the same results he submitted in six weeks over a broader span of six months.

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Josh Hennessy and Michael Hutchinson

Author’s note: Josh Hennessy, a veteran of the Binghamton Senators and Ottawa Senators spent the 2010-11 season with Lugano in the Swiss-A league before the Bruins acquired him this offseason. As a result, there are no reliable game logs with which to assess his past season and weigh his 2011-12 outlook with the P-Bruins.

It is worth nothing that Hennessy has scored at least 20 goals in each of five AHL seasons. He most recently had a career-high 30 strikes and 68 points for Binghamton in 2009-10. With that much seasoning and that kind of scoring touch, he ought to bear lofty expectations in Providence.

Opening statement

Boston’s third-round pick in the 2008 NHL entry draft, goaltender Michael Hutchinson embarks on his second season in the Bruins farm system. So far, he has aggregated a 22-15-5 record between Providence and ECHL’s Reading Royals.

2010-11 Highlights (With Reading and Providence)
• Won five straight decisions with the P-Bruins between Nov. 5 and Nov. 24. Earned team Player of the Month honors for November.
• Stopped 41 out of 43 shots in a 2-1 overtime loss at the Worcester Sharks, who held the P-Bruins skaters to only 16 shots on goal.
• Recorded his first professional shutout with the Royals, stopping all 30 Elmira Jackals shots for a 2-0 win Jan. 9.
• Stopped a season-high 47 out of 50 shots in regulation and overtime, then repelled all four of the Portland Pirates shootout attempts for a 4-3 home win Feb. 18.
• Shut out the host Abbotsford Heat with a 30-save performance Feb. 25.
• Extended his personal winning streak to a season-best four games Nov. 24, when he backstopped a 2-1 overtime win at Bridgeport.
• Won all three of his starts in the month of April, stopping 92 out of 97 shots in that span.

2010-11 Lowlights
• Pulled from an eventual 6-4 win over the Albany Devils at the 3:30 mark of the second period after giving up four goals on 21 shots Nov. 7.
• Lost three straight AHL decisions between Dec. 10 and Dec. 28, authorizing 14 goals on 96 shots in that span.
• Gave up six goals on 29 shots in Reading’s loss to Elmira Jan. 15.
• Gave up six goals on 26 shots in Reading’s loss to the Florida Everblades Jan. 19.

2011-12 Outlook
Barring an injury that would require a rehab assignment or just an utter collapse in his reliability, Hutchinson ought to have seen the last of his ECHL days. And with presumptive P-Bruins starter Anton Khudobin primed to step in as needed by the parent club, he need not feel any rush to take a crack at The Show.

By the same token, even if he is the backup for the better part of the year, Hutchinson should not frost over at any time. Expect him to see action in just a little less than half of the 76-game AHL schedule and to build upon an altogether irreproachable rookie campaign.

Monday, September 26, 2011

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Zach Hamill

Opening statement
Well, here is this first-round draft pick again in the minors, much the same way Van Wilder returns to Coolidge College a few more times than customarily slated.

For better or worse, Hamill has a few milestones ahead of him. Within two games, he will reach the top 10 list of career appearances with the Spoked-Ps. And should he miss no more than a dozen of the 76 regular-season contests, he will leap-frog Jay Henderson for the franchise’s all-time lead in that category.

2010-11 Highlights
· Scored a team-leading and career-high 34 assists.
· Converted four out of eight shootout attempts.
· Had four assists in a road win over Albany Nov. 7. That started a six-game point-getting streak that saw him log nine assists and 10 points.
· Scored goals in three consecutive games (March 6, March 11, March 12).

2010-11 Lowlights
· Finished with a career-low nine goals on the year.
· Took a total of 66 penalty minutes, two more than in his first two AHL seasons combined.
· Ejected from a March 6, 6-0 win over Bridgeport for spearing in the final minute of the game.
· Took three of the team’s six minor penalties versus Connecticut on March 27.
· Had a seven-game pointless skid, during which his plus/minus rating steadily dropped five points.

2011-12 Outlook
To employ an appropriate adage, Hamill has snoozed long enough that he has all but lost his tenure in Boston. With so much seasoned congestion at the center position, there is just too much for him to realistically surmount.

Accordingly, this is most likely his final year in the Black and Gold family. But for the sake of the farm club, he can make the most of it by continuing to make plays and resisting the temptation to pass when shooting is a better bet. It will ultimately benefit both parties if Hamill can pilot the P-Bruins back into the playoff picture and woo other NHL organizations that could acquire him and integrate him into The Show as early as 2012-13.

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Alain Goulet

Opening statement
Sophomore slide much? After spending all of the 2009-10 campaign in the AHL, second-year pro Alain Goulet played the better part of last season with the ECHL’s Reading Royals. Although after his demotion following the P-Bruins season opener, he made good of a recall in March and ultimately saw action in 15 more AHL games.

2010-11 Highlights (With Reading and Providence)
· Started the month of January with a five-game point-getting streak (two goals, three assists).
· Nailed two assists in a single game on three occasions with the Royals, all of them at the expense of the Trenton Devils.
· Inserted the eventual clincher in his first game back with Providence on March 4, snapping a 2-2 tie on a power play en route to a 4-2 home win over the Charlotte Checkers.
· Assisted on three goals, including two of the team’s three power play strikes, in the P-Bruins’ 6-0 romp over Bridgeport March 6.

2010-11 Lowlights
· Was on the ice for three opposing goals in Reading’s 7-2 loss to the Elmira Jackals Oct. 23.
· Held pointless in 14 consecutive ECHL games between Nov. 14 and Dec. 19.
· Pitched in only three points within 20 games during the months of November and December.
· Finished the evening with a minus-1 rating in four consecutive appearances with the P-Bruins (March 9-13).
· Endured a minus-3 rating in Game 1 of the Kelly Cup semifinals, an 8-3 loss to the Kalamazoo Wings.

2011-12 Outlook
Of the non-NHL defensemen in the Bruins family, Goulet figures to rank somewhere between seventh and ninth on the depth chart. Another split ECHL/AHL season is likely in store, if only due to the traffic that has hustled ahead of him. But if he can pick up his performance and build upon his March-long call-up, Goulet will likely garner more regular appearances in Providence than last season.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Craig Cunningham

Opening statement
How long has winger Craig Cunningham been fostering his game in the Western Hockey League? Well, as a rookie, he was a teammate of Milan Lucic as part of the Vancouver Giants’ journey to the 2007 Memorial Cup.

After five seasons at the major junior level, complete with 330 regular-season games, 79 playoff twirls and 128 goals and 322 points in those 409 cumulative games, Cunningham is raring to enter Boston’s system as a fairly mature, seasoned kind of rookie.

2010-11 Highlights (With two WHL teams)
· Traded from Vancouver Giants to the Portland Winterhawks at midseason. Had a point-per-game productivity rate in the postseason as Portland reached the WHL’s President’s Cup finals.
· Placed fourth on Vancouver’s regular-season scoring chart and third in the playmaking department despite playing only half of the season with the Giants before the transaction.
· Went on a 10-game point-getting streak between Oct. 8 and Oct. 27. Within that span, he logged four goals, 21 assists and nine multipoint outings.
· Assisted on five goals in Vancouver’s 7-5 win over the Kelowna Rockets Oct. 20.
· Scored a hat trick in his third game with Portland, pumping in all three goals in a 4-3 loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds on New Year’s Eve.
· Logged four playmaker hat tricks during the regular season.
· Held pointless in only four out of 21 WHL playoff games. Had one assist in all five President’s Cup championship games.

2010-11 Lowlights
· Went on a four-game pointless streak during his last three appearances with the Giants and carrying over to his Portland debut Dec. 28. He finished with a negative plus/minus in each of those outings for a cumulative minus-9 dip.
· Rating for the month of December fell to minus-11 upon going minus-3 in his Portland debut.
· Was on the ice for none of five Portland goals, but both of the opposing Kamloops Blazers’ strikes in a 5-2 win Jan. 15.

2011-12 Outlook
A fourth-round choice in the 2010 NHL Draft, Cunningham should have enough in him to become an AHL mainstay while patiently waiting for an opening in Boston’s tight system. How swiftly and smoothly he translates his rich resume from major junior to minor professional will decide how much of an impact he makes as a Providence rookie.

P-Bruins Player Puckbag: Adam Courchaine

Opening statement
It has been two full seasons since goaltender Adam Courchaine put in his last of four cameo appearances in the AHL, all of them with the P-Bruins. He enters his second year as a full-time professional on the heels of backing up league-leader Gerald Coleman and the Alaska Aces en route to an ECHL Kelly Cup championship.

2010-11 Highlights (With Reading and Alaska)
· Ranked No. 5 among all ECHL backstops with a 2.52 goals-against average in 29 games-played.
· Tied colleague Gerald Coleman for the league lead with four shutouts.
· Posted a 33-save shutout in his Alaska debut, blanking the host Bakersfield Condors, 3-0, on Oct. 30.
· Improved to 4-1-0 on the year upon laying his second goose-egg, a 23-save performance in a 3-0 win over the Idaho Steelheads Dec. 3.
· Went unbeaten (7-0-1) in nine total appearances in the month of February, which featured a personal seven-game winning streak.
· Won each of his last five regular-season decisions, including two more shutouts.
· Won his only playoff start for the Aces, stopping 35 out of 37 shots, including all 16 in the second period, to win Game 3 of the Kelly Cup semifinals, 6-2, at Victoria.

2010-11 Lowlights
· Chased from his only appearance with the Reading Royals after giving up four goals on nine shots in a mere 7:13 of clock time. He eventually received a no-decision as Reading compensated the 4-0 deficit, but lost to the Trenton Devils, 6-4, on Oct. 17.
· Lost five consecutive decisions, including four straight in regulation, during the month of January. Courchaine gave up 16 goals on 97 shots in that span for an acrid .835 save percentage.
· Forked out at the 3:43 mark of the second period in a Feb. 4 game at Victoria. He had given up two goals on only nine shots.

2011-12 Outlook
Never in their first 19 years of existence have the P-Bruins gone the full length of a regular season with any fewer than three goaltenders seeing crease time. And even with the schedule shaved from 80 to 76 games, that trend has next to no chance of ending.

With Matt Dalton out of the equation, this leaves Courchaine as the most likely candidate to periodically step in, especially if and when presumptive starter Anton Khudobin is summoned to Boston.