Not even talking about last night. Boston University just dropped a huge fat one to University of Maine. But you know what? Not gonna be a Debbie Downer.
The Providence Bruins, decimated at the beginning of the season by injuries to the Boston Bruins, are fighting for their playoff lives, and after dropping five in a row last week, they’ve got ten games left and a five-point deficit to climb in that time. Beating 11th-place Hartford on Wednesday was a start; beating 6th-place Lowell tonight in an incredibly impressive 4-2 decision keeps the ball rolling.
It was apparent this was going to be an exciting game when even in warmups, the teams were chirping each other; Louie Robitaille (Lowell) and Levi Nelson (Providence) each were the last men on the ice for their respective teams, taking cross-ice shots; Nelson decided to get in front of his net and block all of Robitaille’s shots before they left the ice at the same time. Chippy!
Providence got things started pretty quickly, drawing a penalty about six minutes in. Andrew Bodnarchuk, defenseman extraordinaire, snuck one past Jeff Frazee on the power play. The next one also came in the first period – Jordan Knackstedt from Cody Wild and Zach Hamill. New guy! (Who really actually lived in Providence for a few years before playing for Springfield!) Wild’s clicking pretty well. The P-Bruins took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, and not only on the power of their goal scorers – those two goals only came on nine shots, while Dany Sabourin shut the door on 16 Devils chances. Sabuuuu!
Second period, Tim Sestito scored early. 2-1 hockey game. Big Mikko Lehtonen did not approve; he took a beautiful breakout pass from Old Man Trent, deked a few times – and tic-tac-goal, it’s 3-1. Those wer the only goals in the second, which is amazing since the P-Bruins were in the box for seemingly the whole period – three penalties and a lot of PK time. P-Bruins were again outshot 14-8 in this period. Not a lot of opportunities, but they took the ones they got and ran with them, which is so refreshing to see, considering….the game last night which we will not speak of again.
I’m not bitter, I promise.
Anyways! Andy Bodnarchuk, clearly not satisfied with one goal, got another to open the 3rd, putting the P-Bruins up 4-1. Yannick Riendeau, the highly-touted former star of the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, got his 3rd assist of the season.
Riendeau’s struggled a bit with injuries this season, problems that started at the end of his season in the QMJHL, and he’s probably still adjusting to the level of play in the AHL. Still, it’s got to be a little disappointing to only have 3 points in 18 games, after putting up a 126-point season with Drummondville last year, finishing as a +41 (he is currently a +4). Anyways, another assist goes in the books tonight.
Lowell scored on another power play late in the game, but it was too little too late; the baby Devs couldn’t solve the enigmatic Sabourin (what?) who ended up stopping an unbelievable 46 of 48 shots. Jeff Frazee only stopped 18 of 22. It’s almost too bad, since tonight was Jeff Frazee Bobblehead night…..
So the P-Bruins are on a teeny bit of a roll, fighting tooth and nail to get into the playoffs. Tomorrow they face the #2-seeded Worcester Sharks, and on Sunday they take on the Hartford Wolf Pack, who are only three points back of the P-Bruins. There’s a possibility Max Sauve (aka Frenchie) could join the team as soon as next week if his Val d’Or Foreurs lose to Bruins 2009 first-rounder Jordan Caron’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Caron scored for the Huskies tonight but Val d’Or still won 7-4. That’ll be a good series for Bruins fans to keep an eye on as well, considering that Caron is expected to make it into the Bruins’ system for next season.
Here’s the deal: Bruins fans, if you’re feeling a little jaded about the team right now, it’s totally okay. You’re not alone. Solve the problem, though. Go check out what’s in the pipelines. There’s a lot to offer in the Bruins’ system right now, and the number of first-round picks we have over the next few years almost guarantees a Calder Cup, if not a more impressive piece of hardware, sometime in the next few years. Check out Providencebruins.com (there’s a 2-for-1 ticket special going on for the rest of the regular season – that’s two tickets for $18, you guys! How can you beat that? And here, some insider info – you can buy cheap tickets and move to the lower bowl, not that upper bowl tickets are even that bad.) and look at the schedule. They’ve got games against Worcester and Lowell at those two venues as well, which are even cheaper – $15 got me a seat three rows behind the Bruins’ bench today. Consider who was in the Providence lineup last year: Tuukka Rask. Vladimir Sobotka. Johnny MFing Boychuk. This year may suck as a Bruins fan, but at least two of these three guys show up hard to every game they play.
So give it a shot. Follow @ahlbruins on twitter. Keep an eye on the #PBruins hashtag. And if you want any sort of details about getting to a game/parking details/directions/what teams to look out for – you know where my email button is.