If the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs started today, the Providence Providence – the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference – would face the number 8 seed, the Hershey Bears. The two teams faceoff for the first time this season tonight at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA.
Providence has more wins than any other team in the AHL with 41. Their 41-20-0-5 record through 66 games gives them 87 points, a tie for best in the entire AHL along with the Texas Stars. To clinch a playoff spot, the P-Bruins only need 3 more points. They could clinch a playoff spot tonight through two scenarios:
- Providence win + Norfolk loss + Albany loss + Worcester loss
- Providence loss in overtime or shootout + Norfolk regulation loss + Albany regulation loss + Albany regulation loss + Worcester regulation loss
Hershey is a desperate team. They are coming off a 5-3 loss last night against Albany and trying to keep their playoff spot. They are currently 31-26-3-6 after 66 games, good for 71 points. That’s 4th in their division, the East, and 8th in the Eastern Conference.
At home this season, Hershey is 16-14-3-2. Providence is 19-11-0-2 on the road. In the last 10 games, Providence is 8-2-0-0 while Hershey is 4-5-0-1.
Providence has the better ranked power play at 9th in the AHL (18.4%) while Hershey is 12th (17.4%). Hershey has the advantage on the penalty kill, ranked 7th in the league (85.1%) versus Providence’s 10th ranked PK (84.5%). Last night, Providence failed to score on the power play in 7 opportunities in their win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while giving up 2 power play goals to the Penguins. In their loss against Albany last night, Hershey went 2-for-8 on the PP and 5-for-5 on the PK.
The P-Bruins PP might get a boost with the return of Torey Krug to the lineup after being reassigned to the AHL from Boston. He will take Tommy Cross‘ spot in the lineup. Krug’s offense will be greatly needed as Providence’s leading scorer Ryan Spooner is slated to miss his 2nd straight game with an upper body injury. Krug, the top scoring d-man for Providence, has 10 goals and 24 assists for 34 points in in 55 games this season, which puts him 5th overall on the P-Bruins. In his last 7 AHL games dating back to March 9th, Krug has scored in 6 of those games, notching 8 points. 4 of Krug’s 10 goals are on the PP, and he has 13 power play assists.
Graham Mink will also return to the lineup after sitting out last night. He will take the place of Alden Hirschfeld.
Niklas Svedberg will get his 3rd start in a row and look to get his 33rd win of the season, which would tie the impressive total of Tuukka Rask from the 2008-09 season. Svedberg is 32-7-2 with a 2.24 GAA and .923 save%. He will be backed up by Adam Morrison, as Michael Hutchinson is still sidelines with an injury.
Hershey’s goaltender is a former Providence Bruin, Dany Sabourin. Sabourin is 9-11-3 with a 2.69 GAA and .905 save%. The Bears top scorer is Jeff Taffe, who has 18 goals and 43 assists for 61 points.
The puck drops at 7:00 in Hershey. Check it out on AHL Live!