It was an all-around banner day for the Providence Bruins, albeit a passive one at that.
Providence is now assured home-ice advantage for at least the best-of-five opening round in the Calder Cup playoffs. They enter this weekend’s action with a two-point lead over Springfield for first place in the Eastern Conference, a position that is also still open to Syracuse and Binghamton.
In other AHL news, Boston Bruins prospects constitute 33 percent of the top minor league’s all-rookie team, which was released Wednesday. Niklas Svedberg assumes the goaltender’s position while Ryan Spooner is slotted in among the three forwards.
Spooner tops the freshman scoring chart with 37 assists and 51 points despite appearing in only 54 of Providence’s first 70 games. Some of his absences have been due to a cumulative four games played with the parent club.
Svedberg trails fellow first-year AHLer Frederik Andersen of the Norfolk Admirals in goals-against average and save percentage, but he has garnered more starts and more minutes. Among netminders of every experience status, he is second only to Rochester’s David Leggio, with 34 wins.
In Providence franchise history, only John Grahame has amassed more single-season wins, stamping 37 in 1998-99.
If Svedberg can get the P-Bruins at least one point in all but one of each of his remaining regular-season starts, he will join Grahame as the franchise’s only other goalie to finish a campaign with wins in the 30-range and regulation losses in the single digits.
According to a tweet from Mark Divver of the Providence Journal, the Baby Bs had only garnered three all-rookie selections over their previous 20 seasons of operation. This is the first time they have had more than one in a single year.
Subban, who posted a 28-save shutout Tuesday to give Belleville a commanding 3-0 series lead, enters Game 4 sitting third among all league playoff netminders in save percentage (.946) and first in goals-against average (1.45).
In the Western Conference, Seth Griffith drew a 1-1 knot and later made the primary setup on Nikita Zadorov’s 3-3 equalizer that forced overtime in Game 4 of London’s semifinal series. The Knights completed the rally in the subsequent sudden-death session, raising the upper hand to 3-1 in their series against the Kitchener Rangers.
London will have its first chance to punch its conference final ticket on Friday.
Stingrays Season on Thin Ice
Boston’s ECHL partner in South Carolina let the deficit deepen to 3-0 in its best-of-seven opening round bout with the Gwinnett Gladiators, dropping a 3-1 decision Wednesday night. The Stingrays will seek to stave off elimination in Game 4 this Friday.
Should their Kelly Cup quest crash this weekend, such current Stingrays as Ryan Button, Justin Courtnall and Alden Hirschfeld will presumably be summoned to the AHL for standby purposes. All three have seen action with the P-Bruins in 2012-13.