On Wednesday evening, the Providence Bruins will face the Manchester Monarchs in New Hampshire for the 8th meeting between the Atlantic division rivals this season. Thus far, the P-Bruins have a 4-3-0-0 edge against the Monarchs, but lost 3-1 to the Monarchs in Manchester this past Saturday. They will meet a total of 12 times before the regular season ends. If they don’t hate each other yet, they will soon.
Providence (20-15-0-3) is 1 point behind 2nd-place Manchester (20-17-2-2) in the Atlantic division standings, although Manchester has played 3 more games than the P-Bruins. Providence is 6th in the East; Manchester is 5th.
Providence still struggles to score goals, with 95 goals scored to 104 goals scored against (-9), while Manchester has 118 goals fore and 109 against (+9). Providence also still struggles on the power play, ranking 22nd in the league at 14.9% to Manchester’s 16.6%, which is 14th in the league. On the penalty kill, the Bruins is 21st at 81.5% and Manchester is 16th at 82.4%. Providence also averages more penalty minutes per game at 18.1 to Manchester’s 14.1.
Manchester’s leading scorer, Linden Vey, has 9 goals and 26 assists for 35 points this season and against Providence this year, 1 goal, 1 assist, and a +3 rating. Second leading scorer Tyler Toffoli will not be in the line-up as he has joined the LA Kings. The next 3 leading scorers for Manchester are Brandon Kozun: 11 goals, 19 assists = 29 pts; 2 goals, 3 assists = 5 pts vs Providence; Tanner Perason: 10 goals, 17 assists = 27 pts; 1 goal, 1 assist = 2 pts vs Providence; and Andrei Loktionov: 7 goals, 15 assists = 22 pts; 2 goals, 2 assists = 4 pts, +3 vs Providence.
In net, Manchester’s goaltenders have each suffered 2 losses to Providence, but Martin Jones has 2 wins to Peter Mannino‘s 1. In 3 games against Providence this year, Mannino is 1-2-0 with a GAA of 2.02 and save % of 0.949. Jones is 2-2-0 against Providence with 8 GA but a matching 2.02 GAA and a 0.917 save %.
Michael Hutchinson has gone 0-2-0 against Manchester this year with 5 GA, a GAA of 2.54 and 0.894 save %. Hutchinson’s overall numbers on the year are 4-9-1 with 39 GA, 2.79 GAA, and 0.896 save %. Niklas Svedberg is 4-1-0 with 10 GA, a 2.00 GAA and 0.932 save % versus the Monarchs this year. Svedberg is 16-6-2 this season with 58 GA, 1 shutout, 2.37 GAA, and 0.920 save %.
Providence is 9-8-0-0 on the road this season and Manchester is 11-10-2-1 at home. Providence is coming off of a win on Sunday against the Connecticut Whale, but are 4-5-0-0 in the last 10 games. Manchester is 6-4-0-0 in the last 10 and riding a 3-game winning streak despite losing a great majority of their roster to LA Kings training camp, and two long-time Monarchs to waivers (Thomas Hickey and Richard Clune).
Providence remains without Chris Bourque, who will likely stay with Boston for the season. Lane MacDermid will also remain with Boston as the 13th forward into the unforeseen future, but David Warsofsky returned to Providence on Sunday and had what The Providence Journal’s Mark Divver called one of his best games of the season. Two other players that returned from Boston Bruins training camp prior to last weekend – Ryan Spooner and Jamie Tardif – also had strong weekends, which showed on the scoring sheet as well. (Speaking of Jamie Tardif – he turns 28 tomorrow, January 23rd. Happy Birthday!)
Now that the NHL is back and guys actually have the hope to be called up to Boston driving them to play their best hockey, expect many Providence players to show a lot more heart. Guys like Lane MacDermid show that heart all the time, of course, which is why he is awesome and already made the Boston team. The Boston Bruins blueline is already falling victim to injury as Dennis Seidenberg sat out Monday’s win against Winnipeg; Aaron Johnson stepped in for him, but if another defensemen goes down, there are several options to call up from Providence. Although Torey Krug was not invited to camp, the Bruins have their eye on him. Then of course there is Matt Bartkowski, who was at camp, and Warsofsky could get called up again as well. This will all be dependent on how well they play in the immediate future in Providence.
Speaking of injury, Jordan Caron spent several days last week with Boston Bruins strength and conditioning coach before Boston practices. He is coming off of an upper-body injury (arm or shoulder) and according to Mark Divver (I know I cite him a lot, but he is seriously the best source for Providence Bruins news, period), Caron returned to practices with Providence today:
Jordan Caron, still wearing red no-contact jersey, on a line with Spooner and Cunningham this morning at 146 rink.
Coach Butch Cassidy says Caron may play this weekend; injured defenseman Garnet Exelby may also play this weekend. Colby Cohen and Zach Trotman, 2 other injured Providence d-men, are still sidelined indefinitely.
The P-Bruins play this weekend on Friday and Saturday before taking a break for All-Star Game festivities that will take place at The Dunkin Donuts center in Providence on Sunday and Monday. The puck drops at 7pm tomorrow night between the Monarchs and P-Bruins in Manchester, and tickets can still be purchased here. Meanwhile, All-Star balloting for the starting roster is also taking place, so make sure you vote for Trent Whitfield!