Providence Bruins Continue Finding Ways to Win

The Providence Bruins remain the hottest team in the AHL. With Trent Frederic and Peter Cehlarik up in Boston, the P-Bruins picked up two huge wins over the first-place Charlotte Checkers. Ryan Donato and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson stepped in and kept the baby B’s train rolling. They haven’t had a regulation loss in their last 11 games, with a 9-0-1-1 record in that stretch.

P-Bruins Get Two Strong Performances in Net

Donato and Forsbacka Karlsson had an immediate impact, but the biggest takeaway from the weekend was the P-Bruins received two of the best performances this season from their goaltending duo. Zane McIntyre started the road weekend by stopping 27 of 28 shots, only to be outdone the next night by Dan Vladar’s 37-save shutout.

It’s a cliche, but this Providence team really is finding a way to win every night. Goaltending has been the most suspect part of the lineup for most of the season but is now a big reason why the streak is still going. They deserve most of the credit when the team scored three goals but came away with all four points, winning 2-1 and 1-0.

McIntyre is still getting the bulk of the work in net, and the P-Bruins will hope his success continues long enough to bump his save percentage up over .900. He has a .890 SV now, which is not where he hoped it would be halfway through his fourth season in Providence. He’s still likely to be given more opportunities, as the 21-year-old Vladar is playing in his first AHL season.

Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre
Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Before Saturday’s game, Vladar had not seen game action since Jan. 19 when he surrendered three goals on 15 shots to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. It’s possible the time off helped, but he has a good opportunity this season if he can be consistent. Despite his age, Vladar has a chance to win the starting job before playoff time. With Providence looking increasingly like a serious contender, they’ll want either goalie to deliver consistent performances before for the playoffs.

The AHL may be a developmental league, but the playoffs are when we see the goaltender that gives the team the best chance to win in net. Coach Jay Leach gave McIntryre the bulk of starts last season over the St. Louis Blues’ Jordan Binnington but switched to Binnington during the team’s first-round exit to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. What will help alleviate the stress on the Providence goaltenders is the fact that the team allows the second-fewest shots on goal in the league at 25.96.

Additions from Boston Make Seamless Transition

The nice part about the depth in the Bruins’ organization is there isn’t a drop off when they shuffle young players up and down. The organization would probably like to see someone emerge and stick with the big club, but as they try to figure it out in Boston, Providence has remained stocked with talent.

Donato remains close to a point-per-game player in the AHL. He should create chances every night in this league. He opened the scoring in his first game back on Friday night and picked up an assist when Cameron Hughes poked home the game-winner in overtime.

Ryan Donato - Bruins
Ryan Donato, Boston Bruins. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Frederic’s call-up hasn’t left a hole in the middle as Forsbacka Karlsson rejoins the team fresh off his first extended stay in Boston. He’ll step in as one of the most complete centers Providence has. He’s responsible in the defensive end and his offensive instincts are constantly improving, especially at the AHL level. That was on display when he set up Gemel Smith’s game-winner on Saturday.

Regardless of what’s being thrown at the P-Bruins, they keep winning. They struggled to score goals over the weekend and the goaltending came through. They had to travel to Charlotte to face the best team in the Eastern Conference and they came away with both wins. Providence has climbed from the basement of the division to third, sitting three points behind Bridgeport with two games in hand. The opportunity to keep climbing continues this weekend with two games against Bridgeport.