The Providence Bruins will face the Norfolk Admirals twice this weekend in Norfolk in the first meetings between the two teams this season. The 10-hour bus ride to Norfolk is the longest road trip of the P-Bruins season and the two games against the Admirals will be the only two the P-Bruins play this weekend.
Coming into tonight’s 7:30 puck drop, Providence remains in 1st place in the Atlantic division and 3rd place in the Eastern conference with a 30-17-0-3 record (63 points) in 50 games played. They are undefeated in the last 4 games, 9-1-0-0 in the last 10 games and 14-9-0-0 on the road this season.
Norfolk is in last place in the East division and 14th place in the Eastern conference with a 22-24-3-1 record(48 points) in 50 games. The Admirals, who were the 2012 Calder Cup Champions, are 6-3-1-0 in the last 10, including 3-0-1-0 in the last 4 games, and 13-10-2-0 at home this season.
The Admirals are 23rd on the power play (14.5%), while the Bruins have improved vastly to 13th place (17.3%). On the penalty kill, Providence also ranks 13th (83.9%), one spot behind 12th-ranked Norfolk (84.5%).
Ryan Spooner leads the P-Bruins in points with 37 (10 goals, 27 assists). The next 2 leading scorers, Jamie Tardif and Carter Camper, did not make the road trip as they are out with upper body injuries along with Zach Trotman; Max Sauve and David Warsofsky are out with lower body injuries as well.
Due to the injuries, forward Alden Hirschfeld was recalled on loan from South Carolina and Nicolas Tremblay (Bakersfield) was signed to a PTO. (Providence Bruins)
The Admirals leading scorer is defenseman Sami Vatanen who has 4 goals and 23 assists for 27 points. Conversely, the P-Bruins leading scorer on defense is Torey Krug, who has 7 goals and 17 assists for 24 points, which places him 5th on the team behind forwards Spooner, Tardif, Camper, and Craig Cunningham.
Next on the list for the Admirals, whose NHL affiliate is the Anaheim Ducks, are forwards Emerson Etem (13 goals, 2 assists) and Devante Smith-Pelly (6 goals, 9 assists), each with 15 points.
In goal, Niklas Svedberg will get the start for the P-Bruins. Svedberg hasn’t lost in regulation since January 2nd and is on a 9 game winning streak. The rookie has a 24-6-2 record, 2.32 GAA, and .921 save %. He ranks 2nd in the AHL in wins. He has appeared in 33 games.
Norfolk’s goaltending is evenly split between Frederik Andersen and Igor Bobkov, who have each appeared in 24 games. Andersen, also a rookie, is 10-10-1, has a 2.28 GAA and .929 save %. Andersen ranks 4th in the AHL in save %. Bobkov 10-14-0 with a 3.05 GAA and .906 save %.
The P-Bruins will look to finish the month of February strong as they play their final weekend games tonight and tomorrow. They have had a wildly successful month of February thus far with a record of 7-1-0-0 and a goal differential of +13, holding their opponents to just 19 goals in 8 games. They play their final game of the month in Portland against the Pirates on the 26th.
Some more February tidbits (if I did my math correctly) are that, going into tonight, though 8 games in February the P-Bruins are 11-for-45 on the power play, which is a 24.4% success rate, and 28-for-30 on the penalty kill (93.3%). They have out-shot their opponents 251 to 230 in addition to outscoring them 31 to 19.
The leading scorers in February have been Camper (1 goal, 9 assists), Krug (2 goals, 8 assists), and Spooner (2 goals, 8 assists) with 10 points each, followed by Cunningham with 5 goals and 3 assists for 8 points, and Tardif (5 goals, 1 assist) and Matt Bartkowski (1 goal, 5 assists) with 6 points each. Kyle MacKinnon has recorded 4 goals and 1 assist for 5 points this month after recording only 10 points in the previous 4 months. Graham Mink has also recorded 5 points after his PTO became a permanent contract with the club (2 goals, 3 assists), and Jordan Caron has contributed 2 goals and 2 assists since returning from injury earlier this month.
In the previous 8 games this month, 12 different Providence Bruins have been named as one of the three stars of the game, including Mink, captain Trent Whitfield, Spooner, and Tardif. To be named 1st star of the game once apiece have been both goaltenders – Svedberg as well as Michael Hutchinson, as well as Camper, MacKinnon, Krug, and Caron. Caron was also named 3rd star in a separate game, while Cunningham received 2nd star and 3rd star honors in separate games.
Spectacularly, Torey Krug has had a fantastic month despite his consecutive scoring streak coming to an end – he has been named a star of the game in 4 separate games, receiving 1st star honors and 3rd star honors once, and 2nd star honors twice. Although he got off to a slow start this season, Krug has truly shown that he is one of the future stars of the Bruins organization. Hopefully he can keep that going tonight in Norfolk with the rest of the shining Providence Bruins team.