Providence Bruins

May 2, 2018


The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning have been among the top teams in the NHL this season, so it is only right that they meet in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their series has already started up, and P-Bruin fans saw a mini-preview of this series just last season. Both of these team’s farm clubs, the Providence Bruins and Syracuse Crunch, met last season in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs with eight players from that series now on their respective club’s NHL roster.

Three of those eight players wore black and gold during the series with Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk and Matt Grzelcyk making the jump up to Boston. All three of these players spent last year with Providence and were promoted to the NHL this season. Getting postseason experience is impossible to replicate, so getting far last season only helps this trio now.

Heinen led all Boston rookies in scoring this season with 47 points and earned his promotion to Boston in large part because of the success he had in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs. He set a new P-Bruins record with 18 points as a rookie and tied the team record with nine goals in the postseason. Six of those points and four of those goals came against the Crunch as he scored in four of the five games in the series.

DeBrusk was last year’s P-Bruin rookie of the year and has showed his scoring ability along with his toughness throughout the year in Boston. The winger, who had a goal in the series against Syracuse, already has six goals this postseason to lead Boston in that category. He was second behind Heinen in rookie scoring for Boston as he builds on what has been a tremendous first season in the NHL.

Though he has been a bit overshadowed by Charlie McAvoy, Grzelcyk has been a solid addition to the Boston blue line as a rookie. He led all NHL rookie defensemen in rating at +21 during the regular season and was eighth among them with 15 points. Grzelcyk had one assist during the five game series against the Crunch last season and has one assist so far this postseason for Boston.

On the other side, Yanni Gourde has had the most impact for Tampa Bay during both the regular season and postseason. He skated in all 82 games, scoring 25 goals and 64 points with a team best +34 rating. Against Providence, he was a force offensively with three goals and 10 points in five games. He led all AHL players with 18 assists during the Calder Cup Playoffs and was second overall in scoring. In two games this series vs Boston, he has a goal and an assist.

Cory Conacher has yet to play in this series, but he has two games under his belt this postseason. If he does get into game action, any success he has will be no surprise to Providence. He led all players in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs with 28 points and 12 goals. Against the P-Bruins he scored five goals and 11 points in five games, dominating at home with all but one of his points coming at Onondaga County War Memorial Arena.

Jake Dotchin, Slater Koekkoek and Adam Erne have yet to play in the postseason, but are all on the active roster and played against Providence last season. Dotchin had three assists in the series and Koekkoek had a plus-two rating, each playing solid defense on the blue line. Erne had an assist in the series and all three skaters played in each of the five games.

Syracuse and Tampa Bay’s prospects won the 2017 Eastern Conference Championship over Providence last season, but among these players that will be forgotten with a win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Game three between Boston and Tampa Bay is tonight at 7pm at the TD Garden.

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The Providence Bruins are the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Boston Bruins, playing their home games at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, RI. Spanning more than 25 years, the Boston/Providence affiliation is one of the longest and most successful player development partnerships in professional hockey history.

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