P-BRUINS CAN CLINCH PLAYOFF SPOT WITH WIN
Providence Hosts Worcester as Playoff Hopefuls Collide
Providence, RI - The Providence Bruins (40-25-2-6, 885 PTS, 2nd Atlantic) host the Worcester Sharks (36-34-1-2, 75 PTS, 5th Atlantic) this afternoon at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in the teams' ninth of 10 regular season meetings in 2008-09. The P-Bruins are 7-0-1-0 against the Sharks on the year, including a perfect 4-0-0-0 at The Dunk. The only remaining game in the season-set will be the regular season finale in Massachusetts on April 11.
Providence enters today's game with an opportunity to clinch its 11th straight playoff berth and 15th in 17 seasons. The P-Bruins are guaranteed one of the Atlantic Division's four postseason spots with a win over the Sharks today, which bodes well for the Rhode Island faithful. In addition to Providence's 7-0-1-0 record versus Worcester on the year, the P-Bruins are 22-6-1-1 against the Sharks all-time. Providence has points in its last three games overall (2-0-0-1) after falling 3-2 in a shootout to the Hartford Wolf Pack last night in Connecticut. The Hartford victory ensured the Wolf Pack will move on to the league's second season. With Hartford idle today, however, a Providence win will give the P-Bruins a share of first place in the Atlantic. On the other side, a Worcester win will leap-frog the Sharks ahead of the Manchester Monarchs into fourth in the division. The Sharks have battled some inconsistency of late. Since March 6, Worcester has shown the following pattern: Win 2, Lose 3, Win 2, Lose 3, Win 2, leading into a 1-0 road loss to the Lowell Devils last night. Aiding the P-Bruins, Providence has a division-best 25 wins on home-ice while Worcester has suffered a near division-worst 20 regulation road defeats.
The P-Bruins are led offensively by All-Star defenseman Johnny Boychuk's 62 points, one ahead of fellow All-Star Martin St. Pierre. The latter has a team-high 47 assists while rookie Mikko Lehtonen has scored a club-best 25 goals. In net, Tuukka Rask has a 31-19-4 record with four shutouts and a 2.47 goals-against-average. His 31 wins lead the AHL.
The Sharks, in the absence of All-Star Ryan Vesce, are led by Lukas Kaspar's 42 points. Riley Armstrong has a squad-high 23 goals and Patrick Traverse paces all active Sharks with 30 helpers. Between the pipes, Thomas Greiss, who took the loss last night, is 24-23-2 with a 2.58 GAA. Back-up Taylor Dakers is 11-9-0 with the team's only shutout and a 2.85 GAA.
In the season-series, now Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Lashoff leads all players with 11 points, including nine assists. Providence's Lehtonen is the goals-leader with seven, one ahead of Worcester's Jamie McGinn, currently with the San Jose Sharks. In the crease, Rask is 6-1-0 with a 2.24 GAA when facing the Sharks while Kevin Regan is 1-0 after a 2-1 win on February 1. Greiss is 1-4-1 with a 2.53 GAA for Worcester, leading four goalie who have faced Providence this year.
On special teams, Providence ranks 18th (16.1%) and 19th (82.3%) on the power play and penalty kill, respectively. Worcester sits 23rd (15.5%) with the extra-skater and 17th (82.6%) when short-handed.
Today is a Team Poster giveaway as Providence Bruins Promotional Nights continue. Providence plays its final three home games of the regular season next weekend. The P-Bruins host Hartford on Friday at 7:05 p.m. for U.S. Army T-Shirt Night. Providence welcomes the Portland Pirates into town on Saturday for Keychain Night at 7:05 p.m. The regular season home schedule wraps up next Sunday with Providence hosting Manchester for a Family Game at 4:05 p.m. Fans can purchase one ticket, hot dog and soda for one low price.
To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Providence Bruins ticket office at (401) 273-5000 or log on to the team website at providencebruins.com. Tickets may be purchased in person by visiting the Dunkin' Donuts Center Box Office or all TicketMaster outlets.