The Providence Bruins are hosting the Connecticut Whale at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence this afternoon with the puck drop at 3pm. Providence looks to increase their lead over the Portland Pirates for 1st place in the Atlantic Division; at 58 games played apiece, the P-Bruins are 4 points ahead in the standings.
The P-Bruins shootout victory last night brings them to 35-18-0-5 (75 points) on the season, good for 1st in the Atlantic division and 3rd in the Eastern conference. Their opponent today, the Connecticut Whale, are in a fight for the final playoff spot in the east. They are 27-25-5-3 in 60 games this season, and their 62 points has them 2nd in their Northeast division and tied for 8th in the Eastern Conference with the Manchester Monarchs, who have 2 games in hand.
This will be the 5th of 6 meetings between the two teams this season. After winning the 1st matchup 6-3 in October, Connecticut has lost 3 in a row to Providence. They last met on January 20th, when the P-Bruins skated away with a 4-1 victory.
- At home this season, Providence is 19-8-0-3; on the road, CT is 13-13-3-1.
- In the last 10 games, Providence is 7-1-0-2; the Whale are 4-4-1-1
- Providence has won 4 in a row, and are unbeaten in regulation in the last 5 games.
- CT has scored 171 goals this season, but given up 183 (-12 goal differential); Providence has 165 goals for and 148 goals against (+17).
- Power Play: Providence has climbed to 9th on the PP at 18.2%; CT is 14th at 17.5%
- Penalty Kill: Providence ranks 11th in the league at 84.3%; CT ranks 25th at 80.8%
- Kris Newbury leads the Whale in scoring (18 goals, 35 assists = 53 points). His 53 points are tied for 3rd most in the AHL. Newbury also ranks 5th in the AHL in minor penalties (36).
- Defenseman Logan Pyett for the Whale is a top scoring defenseman as well, ranking 8th in the league in scoring for blue liners (7 goals, 26 assists = 33 points).
- Michael Haley is 5th in the AHL in major penalties with 18.
- For the P-Bruins, Ryan Spooner remains their top scorer with 10 goals and 31 assists for 41 points.
- Jamie Tardif ranks 1st in goals with 26 (4th best in the league). His 12 power play goals are 2nd in the AHL.
- Bobby Robins leads the AHL in penalty minutes (273) and major penalties (33); he is 3rd in minor penalties (37)
Michael Hutchinson will start in net for Providence. He is coming off his 1st shutout of the season on Friday against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
- Record: 7-11-3
- GAA: 2.41
- Save %: .910
- Previously this season against CT, Hutchinson was pulled in their 1st meeting after giving up 4 goals on 13 shots. He got the win against them on December 22, making 24 saves on 25 shots. Niklas Svedberg started the last game between the 2 teams in January, making 14 saves on 15 shots.
Jason Missiaen will start for the Whale.
- Record: 6-4-2
- GAA: 3.57
- Sv %: .893
- Previously this season against Providence, Missiaen has only started once in 4 games. He made 34 saves and gave up 4 goals in the January loss to Providence.
Connecticut is coming off a disappointing 4-3 loss last night to the Adirondack Phantoms and will be desperate to keep themselves in the playoff race. This game will also feature another matchup between brothers, as Chris Bourque‘s younger brother Ryan Bourque plays for the Whale.
Today is not only the birthday of Boston goalie Tuukka Rask (26!), but also born today was Christian Hanson, who looks to extend his point-scoring streak to 4 games on his 27th birthday.