Providence Playoffs: Heading Down to Hershey

Ryan Spooner at the face off against the Worcester Sharks (Photo Credit: Stephanie Vail/Flickr)

Ryan Spooner at the face off against the Worcester Sharks (Photo Credit: Stephanie Vail/Flickr)

The Providence Bruins currently sit down two games to the Hershey Bears in a 5-game series. For Providence, tonight is do or die.  Despite finishing first in the league with 105 points and 50 wins, statistics mean nothing when it comes to the playoffs.

Throughout the series the Bruins have struggled to find their rhythm and a large part of that is due to team inexperience when it comes to the postseason. There’s no question, when playoffs hit, a switch is flipped and the dirty,gritty game that originated back in the 1800’s comes to light. For the young Providence Bruins squad, this is a feat that many have yet to endeavor unlike their opponent Hershey Bears.

The Hershey Bears have been contenders in the AHL consistently for years. The Bruins haven’t been a factor since 2009. The expectations set forth on a team when they enter the postseason is a completely different mindset, one that the Hershey Bears were prepared to face at the drop of the puck in the first period of Game 1.  For the Bruins it took until the last game to fully understand what they were up against. While they put forward a better effort in Game 2, they still fell short losing in overtime.

Of the six goals the Bruins have scored this season, four of the scorers have appeared in the AHL playoffs before. The veteran presence is attempting to keep the team alive while the rookies who flourished in the regular season, flounder and try to stay above water. The Bruins can’t afford to have guys like Ryan Spooner, Craig Cunningham and Torey Krug ‘find their game’ in a five game series that could easily end in Saturday’s game.  They need to kick it into high gear and fast.

While the Bruins were able to turn things around and make major improvements, there are still plenty more to be made.  Their focus needs to be on containing the veteran AHL forwards that make up the offensive lines for Hershey and finding a way to break through them. If the Bruins can force the turnovers and create breakaway plays, they should be able to break down the Bears young defense and get to the net.

Like Svedberg, the Bears goaltender Phillip Grubauer is also making his playoff debut. The difference between the two, one is making saves while the other one isn’t (obviously).  Svedberg has been a brick wall all season long and is falling short when it comes to keeping his team in games. With the lack of faith and confidence in their goaltending, the Bruins are apt to fall apart. He, like the rest of the playoff-rookies on the team, need to get their heads in the game and push it to the next level if they plan on staying alive.

It’s do or die time for Providence as they head to Hershey to take on the Bears Saturday night.

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