As the Boston Bruins secured the single season wins record in the NHL on Sunday, the playoffs are about to begin. The postseason is also about to start for the Bruins minor league affiliates. We’re going to cover their postseason runs in addition to the Bruins here on Causeway Crowd.
We already covered the ECHL Maine Mariners, so let’s look at the AHL Providence Bruins.
With three games left in the regular season, the P-Bruins have a first round bye in the Calder Cup playoffs secured. They are in second place in the AHL Atlantic Division but are just one point behind first place Hershey with both teams at 69 games played. They are 42-17-8-2 on the season with 94 points.
Providence ends their regular season with three games in as many days. On Thursday, they head to Western Massachusetts to face the Springfield Thunderbirds before returning home on Friday for a matchup against the Bridgeport Islanders. They then play Springfield again on Saturday with first place potentially on the line.
At this point of the season, Georgii Merkulov leads the team in both goals and points, with 23 goals and 53 total points. He’s second on the team in assists, trailing only Connor Carrick who has 35 to go with six goals. Carrick also leads the team with a +12 plus/minus in his 60 games played.
The P-Bruins have used four goalies this season, with Kyle Keyser, Brandon Bussi, Michael DiPietro, and Keith Kinkaid all wearing the spoked P. Bussi leads the goalies in games played with 31, GAA with 2.38, and save percentage with a .925 mark. He also has one shutout this season. Technically, the GAA leader is DiPietro with a 2.00, but he only played in one game, so Bussi gets the nod.
Keyser, likely to be Bussi’s backup come playoff time, has a 2.57 GAA and .908 save percentage in 22 games. Kinkaid played in 20 games before being traded for Shane Bowers, with the veteran posting a 3.10 GAA and .909 save percentage in his Providence tenure.
Boston Bruins influence
The P-Bruins have the benefit of having several players who have made their names known in the NHL previously. Mike Reilly and Chris Wagner stand out the most, but it wouldn’t shock me if Boston calls them up for the playoffs as black aces.
Marc McLaughlin, Oskar Steen, Dan Renouf, Vinni Lettieri, Carrick, and Anton Stralman are the others who have suited up for at least one Boston Bruins game this season, with Bussi suiting up as the backup goalie on Sunday.
Prospects in Providence
Providence will have the help of several intriguing Bruins prospects as they start their run to the Calder Cup. The most notable name is Fabian Lysell, who has 13 goals and 23 assists in his first year in North America. Merkulov has also stole the show in Rhode Island with his scoring prowess.
McLaughlin is another prospect with value to the Bruins and has 12 goals and 16 assists this season in Providence. First round pick John Beecher has nine goals and 13 assists in 58 games. Justin Brazeau has also proven to be a candidate for a contract with the Bruins in some form this offseason thanks to a 16 goal, 27 assist season in 64 games.
Recently joining the P-Bruins on an ATO for the stretch run is highly touted defense prospect Mason Lohrei. In three games, Lohrei has already gotten on the board with one assist. He’s likely to receive a three-year ELC in the offseason as he left Ohio State to join Providence.
Providence has also recently added Bruins prospects Trevor Kuntar, Brett Harrison, and Frederic Brunet, with Brunet signing an ATO on Monday.
It remains to be seen how many of the players I just talked about will play during Providence’s playoff run due to scratches or call ups to Boston, but the P-Bruins have put themselves in a good position to make a deep run in the Calder Cup playoffs. Once again, go Bruins!