The NHL lockout is (almost officially) over, but that doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop covering Providence Bruins hockey. If the lockout has taught us (me) anything, it’s that we’ve (I’ve) been missing out on a really awesome thing in the AHL all these years. The Bruins have lots of great prospects that we are excited to now bring you coverage of in addition to actual real live NHL Boston Bruins hockey coverage.
The NHL is still several weeks away, but the Providence Bruins have a big game this afternoon! They face the Springfield Falcons at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence at 3pm (look for a full game preview right after this!) The Falcons, who sit atop the Northeast division and 3rd overall in the Eastern Conference, are coming off of a 4-1 loss to the Albany Devils on Saturday night. The lone goal scorer was Cam Atkinson, netting his 17th of the season on the power play.
Atkinson, the Falcons leading scorer (and 3rd leading scorer in the entire AHL), will soon be heading off to Columbus, however, as will many other top scorers and other stars around the AHL, including Falcons goaltender and frequent brickwall to the Providence Bruins, Curtis McElhinney. This afternoon will probably be their final game in the AHL before NHL training camp opens later this week. That means it will also be the last game (at least for a little while) for at least a few Providence Bruins as well as they will be headed up to Boston to fill out the roster. The Bruins happen to have the most players under contract out of any other team in the NHL (which puts them in cap-space jeopardy, but I don’t know the exact numbers under the new CBA yet), so we won’t have to part with many of our beloved P-Bruins.
Which Providence Bruins should we expect to see at Boston Bruins training camp? Good question. Jordan Caron, as reported yesterday, is out at least 3 weeks with an upper body injury. Poor guy got injured just in time for NHL training camp. The Boston Bruins currently have 11 forwards under contract. It breaks down as follows: David Krejci, Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic (1st line); Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand (2nd line); Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille (4th line); Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly.
That means 1 forward spot is up for grabs on that 3rd line, assuming all forwards are healthy (they are – including Horton). Who will slide into that winger spot that was previously filled by Benoit Pouliot last year and Michael Ryder the year before that?
Ryan Spooner was supposed to make a push for a spot in the lineup before the beginning of the season was canceled, but I don’t know if we will see him make it at the NHL level quite yet. Max Sauve was called up last year but injured quickly, and is coming off another injury recently. Carter Camper was also a call-up last year, scoring his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot, while Lane MacDermid fought a veteran NHL tough guy in New York Ranger Mike Rupp on his very first shift in his very first game when he was called up last year as well. But don’t expect to see those names up in Boston before you see a familiar name in a Boston Bruins jersey.
Chris Bourque will probably fill the spot of the 12th forward. First of all, just look at his style of play. Wouldn’t he fit in perfectly with Kelly and Peverley? Kelly could easily have another magical 20-goal season.
Bourque came to Boston/Providence in the off-season from Hershey/Washington. When he arrived, he signed a 2-year contract with the Bruins and Boston Globe columnist Fluto Shinzawa predicted that he “could be in the mix for bottom-six NHL duty if he has a strong training camp. Otherwise, [he] will be the go-to scorer in Providence.
Given that there was not summer training camp, and there will be a very much shortened training camp before the shortened season starts, the basis for bringing Bourque in as a bottom-six forward (which he would be if he played on Peverley & Kelly’s line) would be his strong performance as the go-to scorer in Providence. He has caught fire recently with 6 goals in the last 6 games and is by far the leading scorer for the P-Bruins with 27 points.
Then there is the added bonus that he is Ray Bourque’s son, and we all love Ray Bourque, and we all want to see the Bourque bloodline in the Spoked B rather than the Spoked P if even for just a few games. But if he were to have great success in Boston, playing under his father’s retired #77…well, that would be