PROVIDENCE — It’s taken since 2009, but the Providence Bruins are back in the postseason. The team not only won the Atlantic Division, but were Champions of the Eastern Conference. They are the only AHL team to record more than 100 points on the season, finishing with a record of 50-21-5 for 105 points. This earned them the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy (AHL Regular Season Point Leaders) as well as home ice throughout the playoffs. Their first round opponent will be the Hershey Bears, who they will take on in a best of 5 series.
Providence has been led by team MVP Niklas Svedberg. Svedberg has taken the goalie position from a liability in past years to a huge strength. The rookie has been named to the All-Rookie Team and AHL First All-Star Team, as well as winning the Baz Bastien award for best AHL goaltender. His numbers stand at 37-8-2-4 with a GAA of 2.17 and a save percentage of 92.5%. All of these marks are top 3 in the AHL, and as Boston fans saw in the Stanley Cup, a goalie can carry you far into the playoffs. If Svedberg continues to play at this level, pencil in a long playoff run for Providence.
Offensively, the team has many weapons that can beat you any given night. Ryan Spooner is atop that list, as he led the team in scoring with 57 points (17G 40A). He finished off the regular season about as good as you can, registering a hat trick as well as the game winning goal in the final seconds in the season finale. The rookie has spent time in Boston this season, and will look to keep up his good play in the playoffs. Carter Camper was second on the team in scoring with 47 points, scoring 10 goals with 37 assists. He too has NHL experience and can not only score but sets up teammates well. Jamie Tardif brings veteran leadership as well as scoring touch to this young group, leading the team with 30 goals on the year. Torey Krug, Craig Cunningham, Chris Bourque, Jordan Caron, and Captain Trent Whitfield also bring balanced scoring to the offense.
The great thing about this team is that they don’t rely on one player, and come playoff time that is good. They can count on production from several players in big situations, so one guy struggling is not as big a deal. The chemistry built amongst this team on the ice is apparent and is much greater than years past. Aside from Svedberg, this is the biggest reason why they are where they are. Several talented players have passed through Providence recently, yet this is the first playoff berth since 2009. With fewer roster moves this year, a comfort level has been built that is so important to success. This is evident in their special teams, another area greatly improved. Providence is top 10 in both the Power Play and the penalty kill this year, obviously two good stats.
The 2013 playoffs will start on Friday, April 26th at the Dunkin Donuts Center with game two set for Sunday. If a game five is necessary, it will be held May 8th at the Dunk