Friday, December 9, 2011

Pre-game Puckbag: P-Bruins vs. Manchester Monarchs

Opening draw
At 2-8-3 in their last 13 outings, the Providence Bruins have whittled off four of their last seven points at the expense of the Manchester Monarchs. They are technically unbeaten in their last three bouts with Manchester, having conceded two shootouts on the road and won a 1-0 thriller at home Nov. 11.

As it happens, that has been the P-Bruins’ only home victory in six tries (1-4-1) since Halloween.
With Manchester paying its fourth and penultimate visit of the regular season to the Dunkin Donuts Center Friday night, they will vie to renew their lately elusive victory potion to drench an eight-game victory drought (0-6-2).

In their last extramural engagement, and last meeting with the Monarchs, the Bruins cut off a succession of four straight regulation losses and matched a season high with four goals in 60 minutes. Although, Jordan Caron had a hand in two of those goals and has since returned to Boston.

Notable names
Monarchs’ defenseman David Kolomatis has tallied three of his four goals this season in three different encounters with the P-Bruins, the latest being last Saturday up at Verizon Wireless Arena. With his goal Nov. 27 at Bridgeport, Kolomatis has tuned the opposing mesh twice in his last four games overall.

Following a six-game production drought, forward Brandon Kozun is fostering a season-best five-game point-getting streak, tallying two goals and three helpers in that span. That doubles his point total from where it was prior to the streak.

Winger Dwight King has three assists through the first half of the Monarchs-Bruins season series. Center Marc-Andre Cliche has an assist in each of the Monarchs two home dates with Providence so far, but has been held pointless in all three visits to The Dunk.

The Monarchs are 2-for-18 on the power play over their last five games, their only two conversions coming in their last clash with the P-Bruins, when each team went 2-for-6.

If winning percentages are any indication, Manchester is on pace to finish second in the Atlantic Division, but to grab the eighth and final playoff spot on the Eastern Conference leaderboard.

This Date In Providence Bruins History: December 9

1994: On the strength of two goals and two assists via Tim Tookey, along with three-point outings for both Brett Harkins and Sergei Zhotolk, the P-Bruins surmount an initial 2-0 deficit and thrash the Binghamton Rangers, 6-3.

2005: Old friend Keith Aucoin’s playmaker hat trick virtually spells the difference in a 3-2 home loss to the Lowell Lock Monsters.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

This Date In Providence Bruins History: December 8

2001: Andrew Raycroft backstops his third win in four nights while Ivan Huml and Eric Manlow both tune the mesh for the second consecutive night in a 3-1 home win over Springfield.

2002: The P-Bruins surmount initial 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to top the Hartford Wolf Pack, 5-2, at The Dunk, snapping a five-game winless skid.

2004: The P-Bruins win their first shootout in three tries to finalize a 5-4 win over Albany at the Pepsi Center.

2006: The P-Bruins extend their point-getting streak to four games upon beating the visiting Portland Pirates, 6-3. Pascal Pelletier and Kris Versteeg pilot the offense with three points apiece while another three skaters (Bobby Allen, Matt Lashoff and T.J. Trevelyan) each notch a goal and an assist.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

This Date In Providence Bruins History: December 7

2001: Sean Haggerty notches two assists as part of a three-goal second period that makes all the difference in a 3-0 home win over the Quebec Citadelles. It will prove to be the Citadelles final visit to Providence.

2003: A three-goal sugar rush early in the third period―led by Zdenek Kutlak, Brendan Walsh and Andre Savage―instantly turns a scoreless draw into a 3-0 road win over Lowell.

2007: With two-point nights for Brett Skinner, Martins Karsums and Pascal Pelletier, the P-Bruins win their fifth consecutive game (all at home) by knocking off the Chicago Wolves, 4-3.

2008: Martin St. Pierre assists on three goals, two of which come off the stick of Johnny Boychuk and two of which are collaborations with Martins Karsums, as part of a 5-1 home win over Springfield.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Where Were They Then?

With the Boston Bruins paying their first business trip to Winnipeg since Dec. 31, 1995, now is the time to assess how much has changed in each Bruins’ life and career in the 16-year Jets-free interlude.

Here is a quick note as to where each current Boston player and coach was in the middle of the 1995-96 season and, in at least some cases, a factoid as to where they are on this day.

Tyler Seguin was three years of age going on four in Greater Toronto when the Bruins last visited the old Jets. The franchise’s first visit to the new Jets will also happen to be Seguin’s 100th regular-season game in the NHL.

Jordan Caron was barely old enough to be filed under “Tyke” in Hockey Canada’s age classifications.

Steven Kampfer, depending on his local cutoff date, was either in first or second grade and filed under “Mite” by USA Hockey.

Milan Lucic was old enough to be in second grade. Now he’s on the first line.

Brad Marchand, like Lucic, could not have been anywhere beyond “Grade 2” as they might have phrased it in his native Halifax. Now he is in Year 2 as an established NHL winger.

Tuukka Rask was eight years old in his native Finland. He is now on the verge of his 88th career regular-season start in the NHL.

Benoit Pouliot was an Atom (9-10 age group) player in Ontario.

David Krejci was not yet 10 years old in the Czech Republic and would not resettle in North America for another eight seasons and shortly after the Bruins drafted in the third round in 2004. Since joining the Gatineau Olympiques in the QMJHL, however, he has found steady employment on this side of the Atlantic.

Adam McQuaid was not yet out of elementary school.

Patrice Bergeron was in Grade 5 and in his final year as an Atom. Now he is not too far away from Game No. 500 in his ninth year with the Spoked-Bs.

Nathan Horton, who is Bergeron’s age, has already surpassed 500 career NHL appearances. But two more minor penalties, one more double minor or one more major and he will crack the 500 plateau in the penalty-minute column as well.

Johnny Boychuk was old enough to be in junior high.

Ditto Gregory Campbell and linemate Daniel Paille, who each made their OHL debuts in 2000.

Rich Peverley was old enough to be an eighth grade student. He is now in his eighth year of professional hockey and slated to put in his 300th NHL appearance with his first-ever NHL twirl at the MTS Centre, where he used to visit the Manitoba Moose in his AHL days.

Dennis Seidenberg still needed to wait two more years before joining one of the lower tiers of his native land’s Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

Chris Kelly was still in minor hockey and one year away from stepping into the Junior A ranks in his native Ontario. He was still a decade removed from a permanent spot in The Show but has not looked back since the end of the lockout.

Andrew Ference was in his first full season with the WHL’s Portland Winter Hawks, with whom he played for three more years before turning professional at the start of 1999-00.

Shawn Thornton was in his first of two seasons with the Peterborough Petes, a stint that in turn led to four full years with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate and then six back-and-forth years before coming to Boston.

Joe Corvo was a freshman at Western Michigan University, where he stayed until after his junior season before beginning a minor-league journey in 1998-99. He is now seven outings away, including Tuesday night’s in Winnipeg, from hitting 600 in his NHL game log.

Zdeno Chara was still one year away from relocating to North America and making his Canadian major junior debut with the Prince George Cougars.

Tim Thomas was a junior at the University of Vermont, on the way to his best college campaign that saw him post a 26-7-4 record and help the Catamounts to a Frozen Four appearance. Now he is following up on his best NHL campaign to date.

Head coach Claude Julien was three years removed from ending his playing career and one season away from his debut behind the bench of the Quebec League’s Hull Olympiques.

Julien would help Hull to a league playoff championship and Memorial Cup the following year – Winnipeg’s first without the NHL. And he would not recreate that feeling for himself until last spring, when his Bruins won the Stanley Cup two weeks after the Jets confirmed their reincarnation for this season.

Monday, December 5, 2011

This Date In Providence Bruins History: December 5

1993: The P-Bruins pay their first visit to Albany, where they lose to the River Rats, 3-2, at Knickerbocker Arena.

1999: Despite John Grahame’s 39-save dolphin show, the Worcester IceCats cultivate their first regular-season win over the P-Bruins in exactly one calendar year, claiming a 6-3 decision at the Centrum.

2001: After blowing three leads, the P-Bruins finally punch out the visiting Worcester IceCats, 5-4, on the strength of Joe Hulbig’s goal with 96 seconds left in regulation.

2003: Rich Brennan and Andre Savage delete 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to tie the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 2-2, at The Dunk.

2004: Patrice Bergeron inserts two of the team’s five power-play goals, including the game-winner, in a 6-2 lashing of the Hershey Bears at The Dunk.

2007: Trailing, 3-1, at the second intermission, the P-Bruins outshoot the visiting Wolf Pack, 20-7, in the closing frame and pull even with goals by Matt Hendricks and Matt Lashoff, both assisted by Pascal Pelletier. Hendricks and David Krejci both convert in the ensuing shootout to complete a 4-3 win at The Dunk.

2009: A 4-3 win at Portland gives the P-Bruins a sweep of their four-game road trip. Former Pirate Trent Whitfield scores each of the game’s first two goals and adds an assist on Jordan Knackstedt’s strike. Meanwhile, Brad Marchand is the hero for the third time in four nights, converting a power play at 8:24 of the closing frame to break a 3-3 tie.

2010: Michael Hutchinson (34 saves) gets the better of Jeff Zatkoff (45 saves) in a goaltender’s duel as the P-Bruins edge the Manchester Monarchs, 2-1, at The Dunk.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

This Date In Providence Bruins History: December 4

1992: Mike Bales garners the first shutout in P-Bruins history as he turns back all 38 of the Hershey Bears’ shots to backstop a 6-0 triumph at the Civic Center.

1998: Brandon Smith and Landon Wilson each convert on a power play to delete 1-0 and 2-1 deficits against the Hartford Wolf Pack, who had already won four out of four meetings in the season series. In the subsequent overtime, Cameron Mann effectively turns the tables with a walkoff goal.

2005: Eric Healey, Shawn McEachern and Eric Nickulas each collect a goal and an assist to pilot the P-Bruins past Johnny Boychuk and the visiting Lowell Lock Monsters, 3-0. Tim Thomas only needs to deal with 15 shots in the shutout.

2009: Brad Marchand scores his second straight shootout decider to beat the Portland Pirates, 3-2, at the Cumberland County Civic Center.