The Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils, recipients of the last two Prince of Wales Trophies, are still waiting indefinitely to face off again. However, Saturday’s matchup between their respective farm clubs from Providence and Albany packs plenty of intrigue in its own right.
Certainly not the least of the alluring aspects is the fact that the Times Union Center will pit arguably the two hottest teams in the AHL right now. The P-Bruins are coming off their fourth consecutive victory and are unbeaten in their last seven outings, while the Devils have just augmented their winning streak to five games.
Depending on who gets the nod in net, Niklas Svedberg could be starting for Providence, while Jeff Frazee or Keith Kinkaid scrapes the blue paint for Albany. All are among the AHL's top 12 goaltenders and are reasonable candidates to fill an eventual vacancy in an NHL cage. And Svedberg has already combined with Kinkaid for an entertaining 2-1 shootout decision in Providence last month.
Up front, while the Devils’ Adam Henrique is currently injured, the P-Bruins have such promising young strikers as Jordan Caron and Ryan Spooner. The Devils have Jacob Josefson and Adam Larsson, who each saw action during New Jersey’s 2012 postseason run.
Besides those storylines and other between-the-boards elements, here are three more fascinating facts pertaining to the Providence-Albany card for hungry hockey fans to savor this Saturday while they wait for the NHL to restore normalcy.
1. Providence and Albany are two of 20 cities and two of only three U.S. state capitals (the other being the now team-less Des Moines) to have held more than one AHL franchise. Their current franchises are the only two to be linked with the same NHL affiliate as one of their predecessors and to adopt their parent club’s nickname the second time around.
The Providence Reds had Boston as their parent club from 1936 to 1938, 1958 to 1962 and once more in 1963-64. The Albany River Rats were the Devils’ development team from their 1993 inception through 2006, when New Jersey and Carolina traded farm bases.
2. Albany and New Jersey were the last AHL-NHL tandem to win their respective playoff championships in the same year, doing so in 1995. Furthermore, both teams dumped their Bruins counterparts in an earlier round, Providence losing the second round to the River Rats and Boston fizzling in the first round at the hands of the Devils.
Current P-Bruins assistant coach Kevin Dean was among those who claimed credit for both titles, playing eight Calder Cup games with Albany and three Stanley Cup tilts for New Jersey.
As a side note, the Buffalo organization had a chance to match that feat in 1999, though both the Sabres and Rochester Americans fell short in their respective finals. None other than Providence denied the Amerks the AHL title that year.
3. Current Albany captain Jay Leach previously wore the “C” over his heart, along with the Spoked-P, appearing in 206 regular season and 36 playoff games for Providence over three full seasons from 2004 to 2007.
Leach’s connections to the two cities in question date back to his amateur career. He attended Albany Academy and went on to captain the last Providence College team to reach the NCAA tournament in 2001.
In addition, Leach has played two NHL games with Boston and 31 over two separate stints with New Jersey.