Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

game

The Providence Bruins had a solid weekend, earning four of six points. All three games were decided by one goal. The P-Bruins posted a 1-0 shootout win at home against Bridgeport on Friday night, a 2-1 overtime victory at Springfield on Saturday, and a 3-2 home loss to the Thunderbirds on Sunday afternoon.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

*** Brilliant work on the penalty kill by Rob O’Gara, Jeremy Lauzon, Colby Cave, Austin Czarnik and Zane McIntyre in holding Bridgeport off the board on back-to-back shorthanded situations in overtime on Friday night.

*** The give-and-go between Kenny Agostino and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson that culminated in Agostino’s OT goal on Saturday was a thing of beauty. In addition to Saturday’s goal, Agostino scored in the shootout on Friday.

*** Austin Czarnik buried the shootout winner on Friday and had three assists in three games. He is sixth in the AHL in scoring with 13-32-45 in 41 games.

*** McIntyre posted his fourth shutout in nine games on Friday night.

*** Ryan Fitzgerald continues to play well. He had goals on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

*** Josh Hennessy had a strong weekend, setting up two goals on Saturday night and scoring one on Sunday.

*** The P-Bruins got a major break when Bridgeport’s most dangerous offensive player, Josh Ho-Sang, wasn’t used in the shootout on Friday night.

*** Providence is 6-2 in shootouts. Their six wins is second in the league.

*** The P-Bruins continue to draw strong crowds and is fourth in the AHL with an average of 8,195. Providence helped fill Springfield’s building again, too, drawing 6,793 on Saturday, 2,000 above the Thunderbirds’ average.

BAD

*** Atrocious call by referee Cam Voss at the end of regulation time on Friday, whistling Tommy Cross for unsportsmanlike conduct after a scrum. It should have been matching minors on Cross and Ben Holmstrom, who started it by jabbing Cross in the midsection with his stick, then grabbing onto Cross and refusing to let go. Voss showed no feel for the game by ringing up only Cross.

*** Peter Cehlarik is riding a 16-game goal-less streak.

*** The P-Bruins scored only five goals on the weekend.

UGLY

*** Injured: Chris Breen (lower body), Chris Porter (upper body).

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

gameon

The Providence Bruins had a good weekend, taking five out of six points against quality opponents. They beat division-leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 4-0, at home on Friday, defeated Bridgeport, 3-1, on the road on Saturday, and lost in a shootout to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 3-2, back home on Sunday.

“With our schedule and our opponents, we did a really nice job this weekend, did a lot of good things,’’ coach Jay Leach said.

“Our first period (on Sunday) was our best period of the weekend. In the second period we stopped managing pucks — is that fatigue? In the third period we were able to manage that. I was really proud of the group because they really buckled down. There were a lot of excuses with the travel and the schedule, and we really dug in. For me, the weekend was a stepping stone for us and some of our younger players. It was encouraging.’’

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

*** With two goals and two fights, Adam Payerl had his best weekend of the season. He brought a lot of grit and compete to the lineup. Kudos to Payerl for fighting Mike Cornell on Saturday after the Bridgeport defenseman’s hit on Peter Cehlarik.

*** The P-Bruins kept their foot on the accelerator all night on Friday, piling up 43 shots, including 22 in the first period.

*** Jordan Szwarz had four assists during the three weekend games. He has 1-10-11 in his last nine games. For my money, he’s the best 200-foot center in the AHL’s Eastern Conference.

*** With a goal and four shots on net, Zach Senyshyn had a strong game on Saturday after missing four games with an upper body injury. The goal snapped a 15-game dry spell.

*** Matt Beleskey deserves credit. He could have sat back and collected his money last month when he was hit by a puck and broken his orbital bone, but he missed only a handful of games. On Sunday, he could have taken the rest of the afternoon off after again getting hit in the face. Instead, he put the full shield back on and returned to the game.

*** Thanks to three goals in seven minutes early in the game on Saturday, the P-Bruins forced the Sound Tigers to chase the game all night.

*** Colton Hargrove had goals on Friday and Saturday. He fought Bridgeport’s Seth Helgeson after a late hit on Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson.

*** Tommy Cross had goals on Friday and Sunday.

*** Zane McIntyre posted his second straight shutout against the Penguins on Friday.

*** Jeremy Lauzon and Ryan Fitzgerald had six shots each on Friday.

*** Jordan Binnington was good in Bridgeport, stopping 36 shots.

*** Providence scored four power play goals over the weekend.

BAD

*** JFK makes plays even if he’s not shooting the puck. Still, you’d like to see him shoot more. He had no shots on both Saturday and Sunday.

*** Bridgeport on Saturday and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday both had the night off before playing Providence, which played three games in three nights.

*** The P-Bruins had only 16 shots on Saturday.

*** Lauzon got caught out of position on the second goal by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday.

UGLY

*** There were two dangerous hits in the Bridgeport game. Kyle Burroughs boarded Chris Porter and knocked him out of the game and Steve Bernier boarded Emil Johansson. Both were called for minor penalties, but could have been more.

*** Injured: Chris Breen (lower body), Porter (upper body).

P-Bruins GameDay — McIntyre vs. DeSmith

PROVIDENCE — Figure on a low-scoring game when the Providence Bruins and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins meet at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center tonight.

The P-Bruins are third in the AHL in goals against with 117, while the Pens are fourth with 118.

The last time the Pens were in town three Fridays ago, Providence squeaked out a 1-0 win on a Tommy Cross power play goal in the third period in a very entertaining and well-played game.

The P-Bruins haven’t scored much lately, with only 22 goals in their last 11 games.

Austin Czarnik, Providence’s top scorer, is on recall in Boston.

Three of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s top five scorers won’t be available tonight. Zach Aston-Reese and Teddy Blueger are up with Pittsburgh and Ryan Haggerty is out for a while with a lower-body injury.

The Penguins are first in the Atlantic Division with a .689 points percentage. Providence is third with .609.

Zane McIntyre (.904 save percentage) will start in goal for the P-Bruins. Casey DeSmith (.917) will start for the Pens.

Zach Senyshyn, who has been out with an upper body injury, is expected to return on Saturday night in Bridgeport. Chris Breen (lower body) will miss his third straight game.

PROVIDENCE LINEUP

Agostino-Szwarz-Hargrove

Blidh-JFK-Fitzgerald

Cehlarik-Cave-Payerl

Beleskey-Hennessy-Hickman

 

Zboril-Cross

Lauzon-O’Gara

Johansson-Clifton

 

Binnington is the backup

SCRATCHES: Senyshyn, Porter, Acolatse, Breen

Bruins draft pick Swayman off to strong start with Maine

PROVIDENCE – Jeremy Swayman is making a splash in his freshman season at Maine.

With a Hockey-East-leading save percentage of .926, the 19-year-old goalie from Anchorage, Alaska, is making the Boston Bruins look smart for drafting him in the fourth round last June.

“A lot of it has to do with the teammates around me — blocking shots, making plays to get the puck out of our end. A lot of my success has been team success. It’s been a team effort the entire way. All that matters to us is the two points at the end of the game,’’ he said over the phone this week.

Swayman and the Black Bears will be in Rhode Island on Friday night to play Providence College. They dropped a 3-0 decision to the Friars in Belfast, Ireland, in November as Swayman stopped 35 shots.

PC assistant coach Kris Mayotte coached Swayman — who is 6-foot-2 and 183 pounds — with the U.S. team at the World Junior Championship last month in Buffalo.

“Big, strong, athletic kid. Competes. Hard-working. Likes to be coached,’’ Mayotte said.

Swayman played for Sioux Falls of the USHL last season, where he was a teammate of Friar Jason O’Neill.

In the 2015-16 season he made the jump from Alaska high school hockey to the U-18 Pikes Peak Miners. That wasn’t the plan heading into the season, but it ended up working out well for him.

“It was a pretty crazy deal. I tendered to the Kenai River (Alaska) Brown Bears in the NAHL. I ended up not making the team, so I was kind of in a scramble to find a team. I was still set on playing juniors, but there was kind of a pipeline from Alaska going to this team in Colorado that I’d heard of a little bit in Pikes Peak,’’ Swayman said.

“I got a hold of the coach and told him my situation. In Alaska hockey at that time, there weren’t any legit U-18 teams. (Moving) to Colorado was one of the best decisions of my hockey career. The coach, Greg Vanover, took me under his wing and really gave me every opportunity to succeed. I learned what hard work was, that’s for sure. It’s definitely a reason why I’m here today.’’

Swayman has adjusted well to Hockey East, posting a 12-7-3 record for the surprising Black Bears. He said he is always working to simplify his game.

“It’s a positioning game. You learn to relax during games and get your positioning down. It helps you see the puck a lot better. I’m always working on that every game, getting your angles and your positioning down and getting your feet set to stop the puck,’’ he said.

Swayman has assistant coach Alfie Michaud, who backstopped Maine to the 1999 NCAA title, working with him in Orono. Another former Maine great, 1993 NCAA champ Mike Dunham, is keeping a close watch, too, as goalie development coach for the Bruins.

“They’ve got a young team and, playing in Hockey East, there are going to be some learning curves. He’s handled it well and he seems to be enjoying it, which is the key. It’s a good fit up there for him.

“He works hard. He wants to learn. He studies the game. His skating ability around the crease is very strong. Obviously, he’s going to need to gain more experience, as a young kid playing at the Division I level. He’s got the right mindset and the right attitude. He’s quick, he’s square to the puck. It’s just gaining experience, at that age,’’ said Dunham who was in Orono last Friday when Swayman stopped 36 Merrimack shots in a 4-3 overtime win.

“Gave his team a chance to win. That’s what you want.”

Swayman appreciates Dunham’s input.

“Mike Dunham has been really instrumental in helping me as a player. He’s been to several of my games and he’s always been right there asking what I need help with and giving me pointers. I’ve picked his brain quite a bit and I’ve used a lot of his tools and put them into my game.

“He’s telling me to enjoy the process. He’s been there and told me some pretty good stories. To get that connection right off the bat with a guy like him has been a really good thing. It’s been cool to create a relationship with him,’’ Swayman said.

When the Black Bears were in Providence to play Brown in early January, the team attended a P-Bruins game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, where Swayman could be playing down the road.

“It was really cool. It was definitely a pro atmosphere. The game was fast and the rink was amazing. It gives me more motivation to get to that next level,” he said.

Good, bad & ugly from Providence Bruins weekend

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The Providence Bruins continue to tread water, splitting a home-and-home against Hartford over the weekend. Providence won at home on Friday, 2-1, in overtime, then lost on the road, 3-1, on Saturday.

“We were not good,” coach Jay Leach said of Saturday’s game. “We’re consistently inconsistent. I’m not even worried about (putting only 17 shots on Hartford’s net). We literally gave them 3 goals. We didn’t have more shots because we couldn’t get out of our zone.
“We didn’t make simple plays. We’re trying to save the world. We made blatant mistakes that end up in the back of the net and then we’re trying to play catch up the whole game, as opposed to getting ahead of it and playing simple.”

Here’s the good, bad and ugly.

GOOD

*** With Boston GM Don Sweeney watching, Austin Czarnik was all over the ice in Friday night’s win, scoring both goals and earning a recall to Boston.

*** Jordan Szwarz made a beautiful play to set up Czarnik’s OT goal on Friday.

*** The line of Ryan Fitzgerald, Szwarz and Czarnik combined for 17 of Providence’s 50 shots on Friday. Fitzgerald had 7 and Szwarz and Czarnik had 5 each.

*** Zane McIntyre made a terrific save late in regulation time on Friday, sending the game to overtime.

*** Both P-Bruins’ goals on Friday were on the power play.

*** Chris Porter had 7 shots on goal on Friday.

*** Colton Hargrove couldn’t have gotten a better bounce off the end boards on his goal in Hartford. He has 10 goals in 28 games after scoring 8 in 67 games last season.

BAD

*** Providence went from 50 shots on Friday night to only 17 on Saturday.

*** Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson had 1 shot on Friday and none on Saturday.

*** Peter Cehlarik had only 1 shot in 2 games and his fumble on the power play led to Hartford’s first goal on Saturday.

*** The Kenny Agostino-Szwarz-Fitzgerald line combined for only 2 shots in Saturday’s loss.

*** Providence has managed only 5 goals in the last 3 games.

*** The P-Bruins gave up a shorthanded goal on Saturday. They’ve allowed 8 goals while on the power play, tied for third-most in the AHL.

*** Providence has earned 9 points in its last 10 games.

*** Jeremy Lauzon was minus-2 on Saturday and is minus-5 in his last 5 games.

*** A slow change by the defense led to a 2 on 1 and Hartford’s second goal on Saturday.

*** Tough weekend ahead for the P-Bruins. They play first place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton twice at home and Bridgeport on the road. The Sound Tigers, who have given Providence fits, are idle on Friday night before playing the P-Bruins on Saturday. The  Penguins have Saturday night off before playing Providence on Sunday.

*** The next four weekends for the P-Bruins will be 3-in-3s.

UGLY

*** Injured: Chris Breen (lower body), Zach Senyshyn (upper body).

3 quick hits from Bruins-Leafs

BOSTON — The playoffs are still a couple of months away, but Saturday night’s thoroughly entertaining 4-1 victory by the Boston Bruins over the Toronto Maple Leafs was a tasty postseason appetizer.

Here are three quick hits from the game:

ANOTHER CHANCE FOR CZARNIK

Austin Czarnik’s been on fire for the Providence Bruins lately and it was nice to see him rewarded with a callup. Not only did Czarnik play well in his 9:07 of ice time, he set up Torey Krug’s power play goal in the second period.

Kudos to the Bruins coaching staff for playing to Czarnik’s strengths by using him with the man advantage, even if it was for only 32 seconds.

“I didn’t know what to expect coming into tonight so it was nice to get (power play time) and we scored on one of them so it was perfect,” Czarnik said.

“I think he was good,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “Lots of energy, on the puck, made a play on the power play which we’re used to seeing him make. So, I thought that whole line (with Frank Vatrano and Sean Kuraly) did their job pretty well, other than maybe the shift with a minute to go where they got hemmed in their own end a bit, but no complaints, and that’s what we need.”

WINNING CHEMISTRY

After Charlie McAvoy’s own goal in the first period, there was no bad body language on the part of Tuukka Rask. Instead, he went to McAvoy and told him not to worry about it.

That kind of response goes a long way.

“He’s an unbelievable teammate and an unbelievable player,” said McAvoy. “I’m kind of feeling a little upset there, obviously it’s a bounce you can’t really control, but to
have him come and tap me on the pads there and say “hey, no worries, it’s fine,” that meant a lot to me as far as focusing and getting back into the game.”

The Bruins have built some good chemistry, which should serve them well as they navigate the peaks and valley’s of the stretch drive and postseason.

“I think it’s just another sign of what you’re seeing inside of our club, and in that particular case outside, but there’s a lot of that going on. Guys are working hard for one another, have each other’s backs,” said Cassidy.

MCQUAID DOING MCQUAID THINGS

Given Adam McQuaid’s lengthy injury history, you couldn’t help but cringe when he  blocked a William Nylander slapper on a Toronto power play in the third period.

Luckily, he was none the worse for wear.

“When you break your leg blocking a shot like he did earlier in the year and missed that much time, there might be some hesitancy to put yourself in harm’s way,” said Cassidy.

But, of course, McQuaid didn’t hesitate a bit.

“That’s Adam. He’s a soldier for us,” said Cassidy.

P-Bruins GameDay — Czarnik up, Beleskey in

Zane McIntyre will start in goal tonight in Hartford as the Providence Bruins go for a sweep against the Wolf Pack.

Providence outplayed Hartford all night on Friday, but had to go to overtime to get a win on Austin Czarnik’s second goal of the game.

Czarnik, Providence’s best player lately, was recalled by Boston this morning. Matt Beleskey is back in the lineup after sitting out last night.

The P-Bruins peppered Alexander Georgiev with 50 shots, but the Hartford netminder did his best Dominik Hasek imitation, sprawling all over the blue paint.

Coach Jay Leach said the P-Bruins had 32 scoring chances to 10 for the Wolf Pack.

“It’s concerning to me that we only scored two goals on 32 chances. I feel like we’ve run into that a lot this year, which is starting to tell me it might be a trend: We don’t finish. I hope they’re not getting the ‘Leach finish,’” said Leach, referring to his own playing days (25 goals in 499 AHL games).

He is expecting a much better game from the Wolf Pack tonight. Hartford had won five straight going into last night.

The P-Bruins again will be without Chris Breen (lower body) and Zach Senyshyn (upper body). Senyshyn skated this morning but has not been cleared for contact.

PROVIDENCE’S LINEUP

Agostino-Szwarz-Fitzgerald

Cehlarik-JFK-Porter

Blidh-Cave-Hargrove

Beleskey-Hennessey-Hickman

Zboril-Cross

Johansson-O’Gara

Lauzon-Clifton

Binnington is the backup.

SCRATCHES

Breen (lower body), Senyshyn (upper body), Payerl, Acolatse