NHL: Providence Bruins vs. Sound Tigers

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NHL: Providence Bruins vs. Sound Tigers
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Max Sauve of the Providence Bruins had four points in as many games-played against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the 2011-12 season.

Motivation meets momentum in Bridgeport on the second night of the AHL season. Or, at least, that is the logical prognosis in light of the opening night results.

After regurgitating a brittle, long-held lead to hand a 3-1 win to the Manchester Monarchs, the Providence Bruins will entertain the home opener for the Sound Tigers, who squeaked past the Connecticut Whale, 6-4, Friday evening.

While the P-Bruins have made an unsavory habit of opening seasons at home and losing those icebreakers each of the last three seasons, they can now go for a third straight 1-0 start to their road slate.

Seeing as the Sound Tigers deleted a 2-0 deficit after Friday night’s first period, a tangible jump-start might not appear to be a critical key for Providence.

But note that in Friday’s home loss, a multitude of presumptively prolific strikers―Chris Bourque, Jordan Caron, Carter Camper, Craig Cunningham, Jared Knight―were all barren and failed to sculpt themselves a cozier lead.

A dig for more quantitative, qualitative and consistent offensive threats constitutes the Bruins’ fundamental key to improvement in Chapter 2 of their 76-game schedule.

Naturally, though, the backcheckers, blueliners and backstop need not bank on complacency or a dry tank on Bridgeport’s bench. There is plenty of fresh, healthy conviction to go around the Sound Tigers’ dressing room after half of their skaters appeared on the scoresheet and six tallied multiple points against the Whale.

Providence will need to be ready to curb a hosting strike force that went on a sugar rush of six unanswered goals within 17 minutes, 37 seconds of play on Friday.

Their most seasoned and skilled personnel will need to match, eclipse and/or restrain the likes of Travis Hamonic (playmaker hat trick Friday), Nino Niederreiter (1 goal, 2 assists) and Casey Cizikas (5 shots, 2 goals).

The Sound Tigers’ Hamonic and the P-Bruins’ Garnet Exelby may be the most intriguing individual matchup in Saturday’s card. The two defensemen are the most NHL-seasoned skaters on their respective teams, but while Exelby’s 408 NHL career games trump Hamonic’s 135, the young Islander has been the more recent participant.

Furthermore, as a professional sophomore last season, Hamonic led the Isles with a plus-six rating, placed second on the team with 157 blocked shots and third with 170 hits. Bridgeport will be banking on those assets of his for at least as long as the NHL is locked out, much the same way Providence will with Exelby.

The P-Bruins went 2-5-1 in their season series with the Sound Tigers last season, claiming one victory in each venue. They shall engage Bridgeport in eight regular-season bouts for the second consecutive year in 2012-13.

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