You hear it all the time: Hockey is a game of mistakes.
The Providence Bruins and Bridgeport Sound Tigers demonstrated it yet again on Saturday at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. In the end, P-Bruins made just a couple fewer mistakes and rolled back up I-95 with a 5-3 win.
Here are three quick hits:
There’s no question Jakub Lauko has been Providence’s best player so far. He was a standout again on Saturday as he scored a goal and was credited with two assists. He now leads the team in scoring with 1-4-5 in three games.
Lauko’s speed stood out in the first minute of the third period when he drove the net and tipped in a pass from Oskar Steen for Providence’s third goal and again in the last minute when he flew down the ice to cancel icing and fed Joona Koppanen for an empty net goal.
In a chat with coach Jay Leach a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned that there would be an adjustment for Lauko and others who played in Europe earlier this season with its bigger ice surfaces and more conservative style of play. Playing in North America, Lauko would need to attack rather than back up is how Leach put it.
I asked him about that after Saturday’s game.
“It’s still a little bit of a work in progress, but I’m liking where it’s going. He’s straight lines. There’s a little swing to his game, which all offensive, skill guys are going to have. I don’t want to handcuff him. I certainly recognize the talent and the ability to get it going, but when I said that about backing up, it was kind of all encompassing. Backing up and kind of playing on the outside. Very much just a byproduct of the European style that he’s coming from,’’ he said.
“I’ve certainly talked to him about it, but it’s on him. He enjoys straight lines, he just needs to be reminded. Even at the end there – we talked about him going out on the 6 on 5 and I kind of made a deal with him, ‘You stop and start and you’re out there.’ He’s out there and he wants that puck. He makes a really nice play to Koppanen, too. Could have wired that thing from a really tough angle, but he settled it down and gave Koppi an empty netter, which was nice to see. It’s going well, to answer your question,’’ he said.
SWAYMAN HOLDS THE FORT
Jeremy Swayman stopped 17 of the 20 shots he faced. The first goal was a deflection from the slot. The second was a misplay where Swayman came out of his net to play the puck and put it right on the stick of Bridgeport’s Cole Bardreau, who shot it into the empty net. The third goal came on a shorthanded 2 on 0 for the Sound Tigers.
The impressive way Swayman kept his composure after giving Bardreau a freebie was my biggest takeaway of the day.
“He knows he made a mistake. We know he made a mistake. It happens. The thing that impresses me so much is just his ability to be OK with that,’’ said Leach.
“He certainly will learn from it, I’m sure. But in the moment he just kind of parked it. He came back to the bench and said, ‘That’s my bad.’ Then we scored a goal and he said, ‘Thanks for helping me out.’ Then he stood tall for us down the stretch and got the victory. It says a lot about his maturity, his composure and his mindset.’’
ABOUT THAT POWER PLAY
Providence wouldn’t have won without the power play, which went 3 for 7.
That’s the good news.
The not-so-good news is that they gave up two shorthanded goals, one of which came on a 2 on 0 break by the Sound Tigers.
“I had some flashbacks of a rookie tournament several years ago with 2 on 0s on both sides, which I can’t say as the coach I really enjoyed. I think the 30 people that were in the building really enjoyed it,’’ said Leach.
“We talked about it after the period. Mistakes are certainly going to happen, but that was reckless. That’s just something that we’re going to have to make sure that we understand — that we’re on the power play and we want to score goals, but it’s not a 5 on 0, 2 on 0 back type of scenario. We still have to play with our brains, cause you’re not going to win many games giving up that.
“That being said, the power play really kept us in it and won it for us in the end. We can learn from it. We’re going to talk about it and at the same time I think we can also build on the fact that we had some pretty nice execution and got some momentum out of it.’’
All’s well that ends well.