Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bruins Puckbag: An Assortment of Observations on Boston and Providence

Are this year’s Boston Bruins facing a more adverse bout of hardship than they were around this time in 2009-10? Yes and no.

If you count only those who saw action in more AHL than NHL games, there were 10 individual reinforcements variously coming up from Providence two seasons ago, combining for 71 games-played in the NHL. This season, with 13 games yet to come, seven different Providence-caliber players have aggregated 42 twirls with the parent club.

This year’s figures will likely fall just short of 2009-10. With that said, one could certainly argue that the current Boston team could have a slightly better grip on its situation. Case in point: Tuesday night’s utterly inexplicable debacle in Tampa Bay.

Even with Tuesday’s 6-1 shellacking, the Bruins still own the NHL’s best cumulative scoring differential at a plus-53 rating. However, they only lead the runner-up Detroit Red Wings by one point in that category and could thus abdicate the trivial throne by the time Detroit is through with its Wednesday night tilt in Anaheim.

The Bruins are right up there with Ottawa and Vancouver in terms of showing no significant performance discrepancies between home and road venues. The Bruins, Senators and Canucks are 20-13-2, 18-3-4 and 20-9-4, respectively, at home. Their respective road records are 20-13-1, 18-12-5 and 22-10-4.

The P-Bruins are one of five AHL teams whose goalies have yet to record a single assist on the year. The others are the Albany Devils, Peoria Rivermen, St. John’s IceCaps and Syracuse Crunch.

Meanwhile, former Providence stopper Dany Sabourin has three helpers for the Hershey Bears on the year.

Patrice Bergeron is no longer on pace for a career year. Assuming he suits up for every remaining game, he’s looking at a season total of 65 points. But that will at least amount to a fifth straight yearly increase after his lost 2007-08 campaign and he stands a solid chance of setting a new bar in the plus/minus department.

If recent events hold much sway, and they very likely will, Jordan Caron ought to now be the runaway favorite to claim this year’s Seventh Man Award. Virtually every Bruin have been unremarkable, if not underachieving since at least mid-January, but Caron has broken out of the blue for 4-4-8 totals in his last six outings.

Providence is facing a must-win in Worcester this Friday. The Sharks, who were in a virtual tie with Adirondack for 10th place in the AHL’s Eastern Conference entering Wednesday night’s action, hold a two-point advantage on the No. 13-seeded P-Bruins with still three games in hand.

It certainly looks like Boston College senior captain Tommy Cross will be the only Bruins’ prospect competing in this year’s NCAA men’s hockey tournament. But Justin Florek’s Northern Michigan Wildcats, who were eliminated by Bowling Green in the preliminary round of the CCHA tournament, are still technically hanging by a thread, ranked No. 16 on USCHO’s venerable PairWise leaderboard.

No official word coming from any readily accessible sources, but seeing as Florek is a senior, it is safe to speculate he will be wearing a Spoked-P in the coming weeks if his Wildcats are ruled out of the selection show.