Providence Bruins

Jun 6, 2018


It is nearly impossible to win consistently throughout the course of the season without strong play from your starting goaltender. However, relying on one player to carry the bulk between the pipes can lead to ineffective play when it matters most down the stretch. Fortunately for the Providence Bruins, they boasted one of the top goalie combinations throughout the 2017-18 season and the group was relatively unchanged or tampered with throughout the season.

Zane McIntyre and Jordan Binnington each had suburb years in net, helping the P-Bruins to their fifth most wins and third most shutouts in franchise history. McIntyre entered the year as the incumbent starter after a 2016-17 season in which he was named to the AHL’s Second All-Star Team. With the majority of minutes penciled in under his name, the team needed a backup option other than Dan Vladar who the organization wanted to get starter minutes in the ECHL. The St. Louis Blues had a surplus of goaltending options in their organization but no AHL affiliate for them to play with, so Binnington was reassigned to serve as Providence’s backup.

It became clear right away that the P-Bruins really had two starting caliber goalies, though Binnington proved to be the most impressive early in the season. McIntyre received two starts per week to Binnington’s one, but Binnington posted the numbers one would expect from a full-time starter. Through his first 12 games of the season, the Blues prospect was nearly unbeatable going 9-1-1 with a save percentage of 94.1%. His work was so impressive that, despite not playing full-time, he was selected to the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic roster.

His run of dominance came at a good time for the P-Bruins as McIntyre was experiencing some early season struggles. Through McIntyre’s first 22 games of the season he was 11-6-2 but had a GAA of 3.15 and a save percentage of 89.3%. Those kind of numbers still got the job done, but were not nearly what the third year goalie was able to produce in his All-Star season a year ago. Once the calendar turned to 2018, McIntyre’s performance significantly improved. Over his final 25 games of the season, he posted a 1.99 GAA and 93.2% save percentage. He earned AHL Player of the Week honors January 21, stopping all 55 shots he faced in posting consecutive shutouts. He finished the season with seven shutouts, not only a career high but a total that led all AHL goaltenders.

While McIntyre played his best hockey down the stretch, Binnington remained consistent and tough to beat in his role. In each month he played in three or more games, he posted a save percentage of at least 94.1% and finished the season fourth in the AHL overall at 92.6% for the season. He also was second in the AHL with a 2.05 GAA and among all qualified goalies allowed the second fewest goals.

Providence ended the season allowing 2.46 goals per game, good for second best in the AHL. Unfortunately for them, the odds are slim that the duo returns next season. McIntyre could be back and if so would remain the starter, but he’ll be battling to backup Tuukka Rask in Boston next season. Binnington will also be fighting for an NHL job, but now that St. Louis has their own farm team in 2018-19 the restricted free-agent-to-be is almost assuredly going to rejoin their organization full time. While both of their Providence futures are cloudy entering next season, the team would not have made it as far as they did without them in 2017-18 and both proved that they are ready for an NHL gig when one arises.

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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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