Tuesday, April 22, 2014

P-Bruins vs. Falcons: A Unique Playoff Drought Ends And A Tale Of 2 Cities Returns

On May 10, 1997, the Springfield Falcons stamped a 3-1 victory over the Providence Bruins at the Springfield Civic Center.

With that, they secured a 4-1 series triumph in the AHL’s best-of-seven New England Division Final. The closer came 24 hours after the P-Bruins averted a sweep with a 2-1 squeaker at the Providence Civic Center.

Wednesday will end the mind-boggling wait for the next Calder Cup playoff bout between the AHL’s two most time-honored New England cities. To compound the hiatus, the teams that succeeded the Providence Reds and Springfield Indians are two of only seven surviving AHL franchises from the years of their previous playoff meetings.

After nearly 17 full years, the 22-year-old Providence and 20-year-old Springfield franchises will commence their third all-time postseason encounter. (The other came in the first round of the 1996 dance, when the Falcons zapped the Bruins, three games to one.)

Due to venue scheduling complications, the seventh-seeded Bruins will host Game 1 of this best-of-five Eastern Conference quarterfinal at the Dunkin Donuts Center. The higher-seeded Falcons will have the home ice they earned at MassMutual Center for Games 2, 3 and, if necessary, 5.

For those who have been in protracted seclusion, the two Civic Centers are still around, yet no more. The corporate bug bit the “Bear Den” and “The Nest” alike since the last Providence-Springfield series.

Here are 17 other developments from the past 17 years for the Bruins, Falcons, their cities and states, the sports world and the world in general: 

·       The P-Bruins have made 12 playoff appearances, facing opponents from 14 different cities in an aggregate 26 series. Those include multiple engagements with teams from Hartford, Lowell, Manchester, Portland and Worcester.

·       The Falcons have undergone five affiliation changes. They went from a joint partnership with the Whalers and Coyotes to linking up with the Kings, Islanders, Lightning, Oilers and now the Blue Jackets.

·       The Hartford Wolf Pack have replaced the Whalers, won a Calder Cup, faced the P-Bruins in four playoff rounds, faced the Falcons in three and momentarily changed their identity to the Connecticut Whale.

·       The P-Bruins have made seven coaching changes, including a three-year reign for Rob Murray, who captained the Falcons in the ’90s.

·       Lowell gained professional hockey in the form of the AHL’s Lock Monsters, then lost it 12 years later in the form of the AHL’s Devils.

·       The AHL has introduced 39 new franchises, 16 of whom no longer exist due to relocation or folding.

·       David Cicilline has entered and exited the office of mayor of Providence with eight years of service in between.

·       Michael Albano has given way to Charles Ryan and then Domenic Sarno as mayor of Springfield.

·       Donald Carcieri entered and exited the office of governor of Rhode Island.

·       Paul Cellucci, Jane Swift and Mitt Romney each entered and exited the office of governor of Massachusetts.

·       Boston-area teams have combined to win five NCAA men’s hockey titles, three Super Bowls, three World Series, an NBA championship and a Stanley Cup.

·       Kevin Faulk and Matt Light began and ended their NFL careers, both spent exclusively with the Patriots.

·       Various Major League home run records and Tour de France dynasties have been set and subsequently called into question.

·       Keith Olbermann went from ESPN to anchoring duties with Fox Sports, MSNBC, Current TV, TBS and a new position with ESPN.

·       Titanic had its initial theatrical release, followed by a re-release 15 years later on the 100-year anniversary of the event it depicts.

·       Jimmy Fallon passed his Saturday Night Live audition, then went on to star in Fever Pitch before hosting NBC’s Late Night and moving up to The Tonight Show.

·        Providence has faced Springfield in 172 regular-season games, holding a 106-49-17 edge. Although, with six wins out of 10 meetings this season, the Falcons won their first regular-season series over the P-Bruins in 12 years.