The P-Bruins will crack open a pair of 2012-13 divisional season series this weekend, hosting the Worcester Sharks and St. John’s IceCaps on Friday and Sunday, respectively. They enter the weekend action riding two concomitant 0-2 runs, both overall and in the familiar confines of the Dunkin Donuts Center.
To date, Providence has followed a pattern of loss-win-loss pairs in each of three straight two-game weekends. They will vie to buck that trend and thus return to the .500 mark whilst shoring up a couple of games in hand on their Atlantic cohabitants.
Friday night’s visitor from Worcester will seek to hatch a goose-egg of its own, entering the action with a 0-3-1 transcript on the road. In fact, the Sharks have claimed only one victim so far in the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, having wrested away a 5-1 and 5-2 decision from the DCU Center last Friday and Sunday.
The Sharks and IceCaps, who will visit three New England cities in as many nights this weekend, will face none other than each other in Worcester while Providence has a rare game-free Saturday. The defending division champions shall then proceed further southward to Rhode Island for the Sunday matinee.
Not unlike the Baby Bs, the Caps have brooked their own hot-and-cold whirlwind early on, alternating a win and regulation loss over each of their last six outings. As a further testament to their inconsistency, eight of St. John’s first 20 goals through eight total games were scored on a single night in an 8-7 overtime barn-burner versus Portland, who shut them out the next night.
By the time they converge Sunday afternoon, the P-Bruins will have three games in hand on St. John’s. Their points differential by then could be anywhere between two and eight, meaning Providence could pull even with a regulation win or fall behind by 10 with a loss, depending in part on Friday’s and Saturday’s various outcomes.
Although there will still be 68 games yet to come beyond Sunday’s buzzer, they will promptly start to accelerate in frequency. Beginning next weekend, their first instance of three consecutive game days, the Bruins’ slate shall have six out of eight such weekends for the rest of the calendar year.
If they want to avoid another vain cramming session in and around the homestretch, Bruce Cassidy’s pupils had best be sure they are keeping pace when their schedule becomes more rigorous.
The arrival of those more hectic days could presage the season’s first call-up from the ECHL, where South Carolina is 0-2-1 in its last three outings, but could jump from fifth to first in the South Division by Saturday.
A non-divisional bout with the Elmira Jackals will precede a rematch with the first-place Orlando Solar Bears, who previously clipped the Stingrays last weekend and took the bonus point in a shootout this past Tuesday.
The Rays will subsequently commence a six-game road trip with another divisional tilt at Gwinnett on Sunday afternoon.