P-BRUINS CLOSE OUT REGULAR SEASON HOME SCHEDULE
Providence Hosts Manchester in Final Home Game of Regular Season
Providence, RI - The Providence Bruins (41-27-2-6, 90 PTS, 2nd Atlantic) host the Manchester Monarchs (36-32-0-8, 80 PTS, 5th Atlantic) this afternoon at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in the teams' final regular season meeting in 2008-09. The P-Bruins are 2-2-1-2 against the Monarchs on the year, including 2-1-0-0 at The Dunk.
With Providence's exciting 3-2 shootout win over the Portland Pirates last night at The Dunk, the P-Bruins ensured their season will continue by clinching their 11th straight playoff berth and 15th in 17 seasons. The win also guaranteed that Providence will finish no lower than second in the Atlantic Division, meaning the club will open the Division Semifinals at home for Game 1 on April 15. For a variety of reasons, the P-Bruins' first round opponent remains unclear with the regular season winding down. Providence trails the first-place Hartford Wolf Pack by only four points with each team set to play four more games, leaving the P-Bruins the potential to finish as the top seed. Moreover, four teams are still chasing the division's final two available spots. The Worcester Sharks are currently in third with 83 points and three games to play. Portland has 82 points with four games left. Manchester is currently on the outside looking in with 80 points and four games to play. The Lowell Devils' playoff hopes are fading thanks to a recent three-game slide (0-2-0-1) but they are still mathematically in the hunt.
Providence's win last night snapped a three-game winless skid (0-2-0-1). Manchester, meanwhile, has won only three of its last 11 games (3-6-0-2) dating back to March 13 after reeling off points in eight straight contests (7-0-0-1) from February 24 to March 8. The Monarchs have had their troubles on the road this year at 16-18-0-4 while the P-Bruins are tied for first in the AHL with 26 home wins.
On the year, Providence's Eddie Shore Award winning defenseman Johnny Boychuk leads his club in scoring with 64 points. Fellow All-Star Martin St. Pierre is first on the team with 48 assists while rookie standout Mikko Lehtonen tops the list with 25 goals. On the other side, Manchester's Marty Murray paces his squad with 51 points and 37 helpers. Matt Moulson is first with 18 goals. Between the pipes, Tuukka Rask is 32-30-4 with four shutouts and a 2.51 goals-against-average for the P-Bruins. Jonathan Bernier has a 22-23-4 record, five blankings and a 2.40 GAA. In the season-series, Monarchs forward Trevor Lewis leads all scorers with 11 points and his seven assists matches P-Bruins rookie Brad Marchand. Lewis and Boychuk are tied for first with four goals. In the crease, Rask is 2-3-1 with a 2.29 GAA versus Manchester while Bernier is 2-1-0 with the same 2.29 GAA against Providence.
Providence ranks in the lower-half of the league on both the power play (T-22nd, 15.3%) and the penalty kill (18th, 82.3%). Manchester sits tied for 12th with the man-advantage at 17.3%, though its short-handed play ranks among the upper echelon of the AHL (6th, 85.4%).
The P-Bruins are handing out a slew of team awards prior to today's contest. Boychuk will receive three awards, including the Shaw's Leading Scorer award, the MetLife Team Most Valuable Player and the Dunkin' Donuts Best Defenseman honor. The latter two awards were voted on by his teammates. The only other team-voted award goes to Marchand as the Martone Group Rookie of the Year. Defenseman Adam McQuaid, thanks to the votes of the fans, will receive the Hendricks Memorial Fan Appreciation award. Fellow blue-liner Jeff Penner is the club's ServiceMaster Clean Plus-Minus winner, as well as the recipient of the Pawtucket Credit Union Community Service award. Finally, Rask will receive two awards as the U.S. Army Three Stars winner and the team's Player of the Month for March after finishing with a 6-2-3 record and 2.39 GAA.
Tickets are on sale now for the 2008-09 Calder Cup Playoffs for Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven Atlantic Division Semifinals series. Game 1 of the series will be played at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on Wednesday, April 15 at 7:05 p.m. and Game 2 will also be played at The Dunk on Friday, April 17 at 7:05 p.m. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the P-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.