As the team’s state of affairs stands right now, the most pressing question for the Providence Bruins will not have a chance to be addressed until after their next two games. Only then will they have their third opportunity this season to vanquish the Worcester Sharks on home ice and, in the process, stave off Sunday sloth for the third time in as many tries.
Actually, even before they authorized six opposing goals and thus spilled their shot at an unbeaten weekend on back-to-back Sundays, the Bruins crumbled in another Sunday clash during their previous bout with the Sharks. A 3-1 advantage devolved into a 3-3 regulation tie followed by a shootout loss on Nov. 11 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
That was the first of three times in which the P-Bruins conducted a Sunday contest less than 20 hours after completing a Saturday night game. This weekend’s Worcester visit will be the fourth, as Bruce Cassidy’s pupils will have the same rapid turnaround upon coming back from Portland as they did leading up to their acrid 6-2 loss to Bridgeport Nov. 18.
A rough duplicate of the said season series opener with the Pirates will surely be welcome, though. Providence had its stingiest performance in recent memory Nov. 17 when it wrested away a 2-1 decision from the Cumberland County Civic Center.
But before any of that, the defense should be raring to tame the Connecticut Whale, who rank seventh among AHL strike forces with 3.41 goals per night and nabbed a 6-3 decision in the teams’ only meeting to date on Oct. 27.
One potentially intriguing individual matchup in Friday’s Providence-Connecticut card at The Dunk will feature a pair of opposing rookies fresh out of Boston College. The Whale’s Chris Kreider comes in with a 4-6-10 scoring transcript and will be sharing a sheet of ice with his former teammate of three years, Bruins defenseman Tommy Cross.
While Cross steps up to Providence after sharing the scoring lead on their ECHL club, the South Carolina Stingrays will try to press on without their two-way connoisseur. And they will do it with a pair of division leaders on deck for this weekend.
But the last-place Rays will, if nothing else, have a slightly lighter load on their itinerary compared to recent weeks.
A four-game homestand at North Charleston Coliseum commences Friday with a visit from the Bruins’ previous ECHL affiliate, the Reading Royals. The South Division rival Gwinnett Gladiators will then drop in on Saturday for the third installment of the season series before the Stingrays get the next five days to retool and prepare for the Trenton Titans next week.