(Photo: Providence Bruins)
When the puck dropped on Sunday’s game against the Portland Pirates, it looked like perhaps the Providence Bruins had found their jump. They quickly took control of the game, spending quality time in Portland’s defensive end and peppering the Pirates’ goalie Louis Domingue with shots..
As the buzzer announced the end of the first period, Providence had almost twice as many shots on goal as the Pirates and they were up two goals to none. It looked like the struggles displayed during their back-to-back against the Worcester Sharks were behind them. Having lost the first one on home ice Friday, they were determined to be tougher on Saturday and managed to pull out a point by forcing the game to overtime.
However, as the second period got underway, it appeared that perhaps the Providence Bruins were satisfied with their early two goals, as they definitely dialed back their attack and 6:52 of the second Pirates Captain, Alexandre Bolduc put one past Jeremy Smith, assisted by Jordan Martinook and Henrik Samuelsson (son of Ulf Samuelsson—who is no stranger to Boston Bruins fans).
When the second period came to a close, the Pirates had outshot the Bruins 12-10 in the period, and though the Bruins held a one goal lead, it felt tenuous at best. It was questionable which version of the Bruins would take to the ice in the third.
Third period saw the return of the tenacious team that taught hockey in the first and Providence again outshot the Pirates and in the last minute, while on the power play, after the Pirates pulled their goalie, the Bruins managed to get the empty netter to ensure their victory.
However, two issues were clear from the three games, and most especially from the Bruins game against the Pirates. First was their penchant for backing off when up by a couple of goals. Second was the continuing struggles to get both units of the power play to produce.
Post game, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy addressed both issues, pointing out that Sunday’s game could have been one of many more goals.
“We had lots of energy, a lot of jump [when we started]. A couple of guys in our line up give you that – [Ryan] Spooner and [Seth Griffith] back in there,” he said. “We just didn’t finish well enough…so we made it tougher.”
He called specific attention to the second period, and it was clear that he no doubt had brought that up during the second intermission to the players under his guidance.
“I don’t want to be disrespectful, [we made it] tougher than it had to be. I think if we could have just had a little more push there in the second,” Cassidy continued. “And then they got back in it and they earned the right and it went right down to the wire.”
Cassidy indicated that it was good to get the win, but they have often been on the losing side of such one-goal games so far this season. This lack of his team to be able to force a separation and get further out in front is not lost on Cassidy and he made a point of saying that it was something that he would work on.
The fact that he had Spooner and Griffith back in his line up is not something he can rely on for that jump or push. Griffith has already been recalled by the Boston Bruins and is expected to play with them on Tuesday when they take on the San Jose Sharks. So, the team needs to figure out how to bring that energy when they don’t have the skills of Spooner and Griffith on hand.
The second problem that persists is the power play, or lack of production during the power play. Cassidy mentioned that in many cases since the game against the St. John’s Ice Caps on October 10, that the team really hadn’t had much opportunity on the power play. Usually shortly after going on the PP they have negated the man advantage by taking a penalty themselves. However, in addition to that, Cassidy called out the second unit of the power play for their number of turnovers and their lack of fight for the puck.
At the end of the weekend, Providence had three points out of six, but they made it much harder than it should have been and hopefully they will learn from the experience and refuse to back down going forward. This coming weekend the team will take on the Norfolk Admirals on Friday, October 24, when they don their Pink in the Rink jerseys that will be auctioned to benefit Breast Cancer. And then they will travel to New Hampshire to take on the Manchester Monarchs for the first time this season.