A statement series in St. John’s awaits the Providence Bruins this Saturday and Sunday.
Each party will have but one more crack at one another hereafter when the IceCaps visit Providence once more on Dec. 16. In turn, over post-Thanksgiving weekend, the divisional cohabitants need to scramble for the virtual four-point packages while the getting is good.
The P-Bruins, hoping to rinse out the vinegar of a season-worst 6-2 loss to Bridgeport this past Sunday, will enter Saturday’s action three points behind the Caps for third place in the Atlantic Division with three games in hand.
Because of those games in hand, a split or worse might not inflict quite as big a dent in their cause as it might the IceCaps’. Nonetheless, especially given that St. John’s will be on short rest after playing Hamilton on Tuesday and Wednesday, Providence will want to stash as much collateral as it can in this rare two-game weekend before another slew of three-gamers kicks up.
As of Thursday morning, the Bruins possess the AHL’s least productive strike force with 2.14 goals per game while a 2.24 median has the Caps third-to-last on that leaderboard. For their part, the P-Bruins can nab an upper hand if the likes of Carter Camper, Jordan Caron, Craig Cunningham and Lane MacDermid can snap out of their two- or three-week-old slumps.
At the other end, the Providence penalty kill, which blinked against Bridgeport but has otherwise been sufficiently stingy of late, should be determined to perk back up and suffocate the struggling St. John’s power play. So far in November, the Caps have converted just three out of 52 man advantages while Providence has been perfect on the kill against teams not named Worcester or Bridgeport.
The Bruins’ Double-A farm club will likewise play two games in a single destination to the north of their home this weekend. The South Carolina Stingrays, who began a four-night road trip in Reading on Wednesday, continue on to Elmira for a Friday and Saturday bout with the Jackals.
Elmira previously deleted a 2-0 deficit knock off the Stingrays, 4-2, in a Nov. 2 visit to North Charleston.
The Rays have yet to nab points in consecutive games this season, but will have an opportunity to reverse that trend on Friday after forcing overtime and a shootout in Reading. Tommy Cross, a 2007 draft choice by Boston and a call-up candidate if and when Providence needs defensive reinforcement, had a hand in each goal that erased a 4-2 deficit.
With that, Cross goes into the weekend in a virtual tie with Denny Urban for the lead among ECHL blueliners with 17 points on the year. But the defense’s topmost task will be slowing down the hot-handed Jackals playmaker, Dustin Gazley, and his linemates Artem Demkov and Andrew Rowe.