P-Bruins Week in Review
The Providence Bruins are in the middle of their All-Star Break, but for the first time all season can boast one of the four playoff spots in the Atlantic Division. The P-Bruins won both of their games this weekend against division foes, taking all four possible points in the standings. They are riding a season-best nine-game point streak and sit in fourth place at 22-16-6-1 and 51 points.
Suiting up for their annual Military Appreciation game Friday at the Dunk, Providence welcomed in the division leading Charlotte Checkers, a team not only first in the Atlantic Division but number one overall in the AHL. The Checkers came out firing, scoring twice in the first six minutes of the game, but the P-Bruins responded with four unanswered goals to take control. Behind a pair of goals, including the game winner, from Trent Frederic the Bruins took down Charlotte 5-3. Providence welcomed in the Springfield Thunderbirds Saturday night to conclude their pre-All-Star break schedule, but again fell behind early. Trailing 2-1 into the third, the P-Bruins got goals from Gemel Smith and Zach Senyshyn to complete their comeback and enter the break 3-2 winners.
January to Remember
The P-Bruins needed a big month to really be in the think of the playoff picture, and they did just that in January. The P-Bruins were 8-1-1-1, taking 18 of 22 points with all their games coming within the division. The team's power play and penalty kill, which has been good all season, continued to thrive in the month. They converted power plays at a 20.5% success rate and killed off 86.7% of their penalties. This includes 24 consecutive kills dating back to January 13. Zane McIntyre has been superb, winning all eight of his starts while allowing three or fewer goals in each appearance.
A big reason for the P-Bruin's success this week, and this month, is the play of Gemel Smith. Smith led the team with four points, scoring a pair of goals and assists this weekend. For the month, he posted seven goals and six assists for a team best 13 points including a game-winning goal and three power play goals. Smith was one of two players to score in each game this weekend, with Mark McNeill being the other. Six P-Bruins posted a multipoint game this week: Smith, Frederic, Senyshyn, Kyle Cumiskey, Paul Carey and Jakub Zboril.
Szwarz takes part in All-Star Weekend
Captain Jordan Szwarz participated in the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic this weekend, serving as Providence's lone representative during the two-day event. All-Star weekend kicked off Sunday night with the 2019 Skills Competition in which Szwarz participated in three events for the Eastern Conference. He helped his team net two goals in the Rapid Fire Challenge while also taking part in the Pass and Score contest and Breakaway Relay. Ultimately, the Western Conference came away with a 17-14 victory on the event. Monday, Szwarz suited up for the Atlantic Division in 2019 AHL All-Star Challenge, posting an assist in four games. His side made it to the finals, but fell in a shootout to the North Division squad 1-0 in the championship.
Post-Bye roster shakeup
Boston made a flurry of moves to shake up both their roster and Providence's roster. The team promoted Zane McIntyre, Peter Cehlarik and Trent Frederic to the NHL while sending Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Ryan Donato down to the AHL.
McIntyre was called up due to Tuukka Rask's concussion and will serve as Jaroslav Halak's backup until Rask is ready. Cehlarik, who was sent to Providence prior to Boston's bye week to get more game action, returns to the NHL and will immediately slot onto the wing of their second line alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. Frederic was called up for the first time and made his NHL debut last night. He will get a chance to show he is ready for the challenge and takes over as their third line center.
Frederic takes the place of Forsbacka Karlsson on Boston's third line, who now returns to the P-Bruins. Forsbacka Karlsson and Donato, who skated together on the same line in Boston, now get a chance to work on some things together in the AHL without the pressure of the NHL. Both players had been in Boston since the beginning of December.
The P-Bruins hit the ground running after the All-Star break as they travel to Charlotte for a pair of games. Providence takes on the Checkers Friday at 7pm and Saturday at 6pm, their final games of the season in Charlotte against the top team in the AHL.
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