Saturday, April 21, 2012

This Date In Providence Bruins History: April 21

2000: A 3-1 win at the Civic Center gives the P-Bruins a 1-0 lead over the Lowell Lock Monsters in the Atlantic Division Finals.

2001: John Grahame shuts out the regular-season champion Worcester IceCats for a 2-0 victory in Game 1 of the New England Division Finals.

2008: Trailing, 2-0, at the second intermission, the P-Bruins pull even in the third period, then finish a four-game sweep of the Manchester Monarchs when Martins Karsums scores 46 seconds into overtime. It is their third, 3-2, sudden-death win of the series and the team's first four-game sweep of a playoff round since the 1999 New England Division finals against Hartford.

Friday, April 20, 2012

This Date In Providence Bruins History: April 20

2003: Facing the specter of a first-round sweep after losing the first two games of a best-of-five series at The Dunk, the P-Bruins hold off the upset-minded Manitoba Moose for one night with a 1-0, Game 3 win at Winnipeg Arena. Andrew Raycroft repels all 41 shots faced while Zdenek Kutlak inserts the game’s only goal in the final minute of the second period.

2007: David Krejci’s playmaker hat trick helps the P-Bruins to even their best-of-seven first-round series with Hartford, 1-1, in a 4-2 win at the Hartford Civic Center.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Starting Nine: 9 Notable Facts Entering the PawSox-Bulls Series

The PawSox are on the heels of dealing a sweep to the Syracuse Chiefs as they return home Friday night to face the Durham Bulls, who were just the victims of a four-game sweep at the hands of the Charlotte Knights.

Nine slightly deeper informational popups to preview this series, which will run through Monday evening, are as follows:

This is Durham’s third of four stops on a 14-game road trip. The Bulls have gone 1-6 so far to drop their record to 6-8 after kickstarting their 2012 campaign with a sound 5-2 homestand.

First baseman/designated hitter Leslie Anderson, who leads the International League with a .444 batting average, hit at least once in each of his first 11 games for the Bulls this season. That streak came to an end in Thursday night’s 5-2 loss at Charlotte. If you factor in the third game of last year’s division series versus Columbus, Anderson had a carry-over 12-game hitting streak, going 22-for-46 in that span. In terms of regular-season action, he hit safely in 15 straight games with a 24-for-59 transcript.

Anderson and right fielder Brandon Guyer are the only positional players to have played the better part of last season for the Bulls. Catcher and Fall River native Craig Albernaz has seen action in Durham each season since 2009, but spent most of 2010 and 2011 with Double-A Montgomery.

Third baseman Matt Mangini has hit safely for the Bulls in 11 of the first 14 games on their schedule. On the flip side, he also leads the team with 20 strikeouts, including 13 on a swinging third strike.

Lars Anderson led Pawtucket through the 2011 season series with the Bulls, posting a .333 batting average with three home runs, four doubles, 14 RBIs and five runs-scored. Ryan Lavarnway came up from Portland a month before the Bulls visited McCoy Stadium last July and batted .500 (8-for-16) in their four-game bout with three RBIs, two dingers a double.

PawSox pitchers Ross Ohlendorf and Aaron Cook will put their 2-0 records on the line on Saturday and Monday, respectively.

Reliever Ryan Reid is the only Bulls pitcher with multiple winning decisions on the year with a 2-0 record. Both of his wins have come against the Gwinnett Braves, including Durham’s only road win to date, a 5-1 triumph this past Sunday.

Alexander Torres, slated to start Saturday for Durham, has already struck out 18 opposing hitters, but also walked 14, in 12.2 innings pitched on the year.

The Sox went 5-3 in their 2011 season series with Durham and posted a 16-15 log against the IL South. The Bulls went 28-18 last year against the six tenants of the IL North Division and had a winning record against each of those clubs except Pawtucket.

This Date In Providence Bruins History: April 19

1995: Six skaters―Brett Harkins, Alexander Kerch, Guy Larose, Grigori Panteleev, Tim Sweeney and Sergei Zholtok―have a multi-point outing as the P-Bruins claim a 7-3 win and take a 2-1 series lead over Portland.

1996: The P-Bruins take Game 1 of the Northern Division Semifinals, 6-3, at the Springfield Civic Center.

1997: For the second time in as many nights, the P-Bruins let a 2-0 lead devolve into a 5-4 loss, instantaneously throwing them into a 2-0 series hole in a best-of-five bout with the top dog Worcester IceCats.

2008: Jeff Hoggan has a hand in all three goals as the P-Bruins take a commanding 3-0 lead in their first-round series against Manchester. Hoggan assists on two regulation strikes, then scores an unassisted, shorthanded tally at 5:34 of overtime to finalize a 3-2 win at Verizon Wireless Arena.

2009: Brad Marchand and Martin St. Pierre take turns assisting on each other’s goals to sculpt an initial 2-0 lead. Afterwards, Vladimir Sobotka and Johnny Boychuk have a hand in three more unanswered strikes, the last two coming on a power play with St. Pierre getting the secondary assist. The stash allows the P-Bruins to subsist through the final 18:39 of regulation to take Game 3 of the Atlantic Division semifinals, 5-1, in Portland.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bruins Puckbag: An Assortment of Observations on Boston and Providence

With their elimination from playoff contention, the Providence Bruins of the last two seasons have officially followed a pattern reminiscent of a routine from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

In an episode that follows the exploits of a Michael Palin character traveling across Europe via bicycle, the protagonist soon finds himself in the custody of Soviet authorities. An altogether petty and inadvertent crime lands him in front of a firing squad, which inexplicably fails to gun him down.

After the second of two failed attempts, each followed by Palin’s return to his prison cell and the squad being ordered to work on their accuracy, an officer played by the estimable John Cleese makes a stern pledge to his prisoner.

Next time, definitely!”

The fact that first-year Providence head coach Bruce Cassidy is working with Boston’s 11 Black Aces virtually confirms he will get the second chance he deserves in 2012-13. All he needs is more consistent health and a more assertive autumn out of his pupils.

Claude Julien made a can’t-hurt maneuver by flip-flopping top-six centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci after the entire top half of his depth chart went pointless in the first two games of the playoffs. But isn’t there some way he can shuffle things without prying Bergeron apart from Brad Marchand?

Upon trading sudden-death strikes in the first two games of their ongoing series with the Washington Capitals, the Bruins have now lost at least one overtime decision in every playoff run under Julien. They are 8-6 overall in overtime games in that span, spreading their eight wins over every year except for 2009.

The P-Bruins finished fourth in AHL regular-season attendance for the second consecutive season, averaging an audience of 7,817 per night. And even with the decrease in home games from 40 to 38 that went into effect this season, the cumulative 297,037 spectators still constituted the most in a Baby Bs season since the 2004-05 NHL lockout year.

The P-Bruins also just missed beating Providence College basketball for the second consecutive winter. The Friars averaged 7,883 witnesses in 17 home dates at The Dunk during their 2011-12 campaign.

Ever since he tallied a 3-3-6 transcript over Games 1 and 2 versus Tampa Bay last season, Tyler Seguin has no goals and one assist on 26 shots on net in his last 14 Stanley Cup playoff games.

The Bruins’ top two prospects could meet one another in the Ontario League championship. Top defenseman Dougie Hamilton’s Niagara Ice Dogs and forward Jared Knight’s London Knights are in their respective conference finals.

Raffi Torres’ egregious hit on Marian Hossa in Tuesday night’s third game of the Chicago-Phoenix series evoked memories of the Marc Savard-Matt Cooke incident on multiple levels. In particular, the fact that the perpetrator was not penalized on the ice is proof that referees should start reviewing injurious plays the same way they do questionable goals or non-goals.

Zdeno Chara’s winning goal in Game 3 Monday night was the Boston captain’s first clinching strike since he snapped a 1-1 tie en route to a 4-1 triumph over New Jersey on March 22 of last year.

Of the Bruins’ two longest tenured AHL mainstays, and the only holdovers from the P-Bruins’ last Calder Cup playoff appearance in 2009, Zach Hamill was not listed among 2012 Boston’s Black Aces while Andrew Bodnarchuk was. I’m not saying anything here. I’m just saying…

This Date In Providence Bruins History: April 18

2001: Eric Manlow singlehandedly outscores the Hartford Wolf Pack, 2-1, to win Game 5 of the New England Division Semifinals. With the win, the P-Bruins surmount a 2-0 series deficit to win a best-of-five series for the second time in franchise history, having pulled the same feat against Worcester four years prior.

2008: Tuukka Rask stops all 21 shots-faced to prop up a long-standing scoreless tie before Jordan Knackstedt finally solves Manchester stopper Jonathan Quick with 3:06 to spare in regulation. Pascal Pelletier later strikes on an empty net to give Providence a 2-0 win and an identical series lead against the Monarchs.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This Date In Providence Bruins History: April 17

1993: In Game 4 of the team's first-ever playoff series, the P-Bruins storm out to a 5-0 lead in the first period and ultimately romp the Springfield Indians, 9-0, on the strength of four-point games by Jozef Stumpel, Jim Vesey and Sergei Zholtok as well as two goals by Bill Huard. The win ties the series at two games apiece.

1999: In a throwaway game for the regular-season champion P-Bruins, the Adirondack Red Wings claim a 2-0 decision to win what will prove their final regular-season home game at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

2001: With two goals via Eric Nickulas and a go-ahead strike by Lee Goren, the P-Bruins beat the visiting Hartford Wolf Pack, 4-3, and force a rubber game in the best-of-five New England Division Semifinals.

2005: In a 3-1 home loss to Portland, Brad Boyes joins four others (Tod Hartje, Brett Harkins, Jeremy Brown, Zdenek Kutlak) as the only P-Bruins to have dressed for every game in a single regular season.

2009: After being shut out in both their regular-season finale and postseason opener, the P-Bruins get back on the scoresheet and pull even with Portland in a 2-1 win at The Dunk. The victory ties the Atlantic Division semifinals at a game apiece and snaps the Baby Bs' carry-over, five-game playoff losing streak, all of which was to be blamed on the Pirates.

Monday, April 16, 2012

This Date In Providence Bruins History: April 16

1993: Sergei Zholtok scores at 4:50 of overtime for a 3-2 win over the Indians at the Springfield Civic Center, giving the P-Bruins their first-ever playoff game victory and cutting the series deficit to 2-1.

1999: In a preview of the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs, the P-Bruins delete and surmount an initial 3-1 deficit to beat the visiting Worcester IceCats, 5-4. Randy Robitaille becomes the first Providence player to crack triple-digits in a single-season point column.

2000: After letting the visiting Quebec Citadelles delete a 5-3 deficit, the P-Bruins finish a three-game sweep of the Atlantic Division Semifinals on the strength of Jay Henderson’s game-winner midway through the third period.

2005: In their final meeting with the Worcester IceCats, who will relocate to Peoria later that summer, the P-Bruins relinquish a 5-2 decision at the DCU Center.

2008: Pascal Pelletier scores at 9:01 of overtime to take Game 1 of the Atlantic Division semifinals from Manchester, 3-2, at The Dunk.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

This Date In Providence Bruins History: April 15

2005: Two assists by Martin Samuelsson help the P-Bruins surmount an initial 1-0 deficit en route to a 3-1 win over Worcester, clinching themselves a playoff spot while punching the IceCats out of contention.

2006: Eric Healey assists on each of the P-Bruins first three goals, including Nate Robinson’s eventual game-winner in a 4-2 triumph at Albany.

2007: Jordan Sigalet records his third shutout of the season and Jason Platt scores the game’s only goal in overtime to beat Manchester, 1-0, in the regular-season finale. In addition, Pascal Pelletier becomes the sixth P-Bruin to have played a full 80-game regular-season schedule with the team.