PROVIDENCE, RI – Despite the NHL lockout that has sent fans everywhere into a flurry of frustration over the past couple of weeks, there is still hockey to be played across North America. Friday evening would mark the start of the 77th American Hockey League season as seven games were on the slate. One of which featured the Providence Bruins playing host to the AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, the Manchester Monarchs, at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in the state capital of Rhode Island.
Unfortunately for the near-11,000 fans in attendance, the P-Bruins were unable to get the job done on Friday, falling 3-1 to the visiting Monarchs.
Things got off to a hot start for the P-Bruins as they stormed Martin Jones’ net with three shots in the game’s first forty seconds. With less than five minutes remaining in the opening period, highly-touted Boston prospect Ryan Spooner would zip through the neutral zone and fire a wrist shot towards the Manchester goal. Line-mate Jamie Tardif was able to corral the loose rebound and shovel it home to open the scoring and give Providence a 1-0 home ice lead.
The second frame would feature some back and forth play from both squads, with neither being able to gain significant control for any extended period of time. With just less than six minutes left in the period, P-Bruins’ winger Bobby Robins would absolutely demolish Monarchs’ defenseman Thomas Hickey behind the Manchester net, causing teammate Jordan Nolan to drop the gloves and engage Providence’s fourth line right wing in his first fight of the season. Robins would send the fans into an uproar on his way off the ice, gesturing for the fans to stand up, a la Milan Lucic after his memorable beat-down of Mike Komisarek back in November of 2008.
“It’s no secret that I look for the hit and a lot of times I’m going to have to back that up. I do that to try to get a rise out of the team and the fans. That’s my job here. I’m happy to do that.” – Bobby Robins
Unfortunately for the Bruins, Manchester would even the score at one with under a minute to play in the middle period after Andrei Loktionov showcased a brilliant set of dangles and went upstairs to beat Michael Hutchinson for a short-handed goal.
Manchester would be given the benefit of an early power-play in the third period and took advantage to secure themselves a 2-1 lead over the Bruins. It would be centerman Andy Andreoff who would tuck home a rebound and give the Monarchs their first lead of the 2012-13 season. Just a couple of minutes later, the P-Bruins were unable to convert on 0:48 seconds of a 5-on-3, nor the ensuing 5-on-4 power play. Special teams would end up being the Achilles heel for Providence on Friday evening, as the team was unable to convert on all five of their opportunities with the man advantage.
“Some nights, it (the power-play) can be difficult. When those nights happen, the best thing to do is try to get pucks on net, try to keep it simple. If you try to make pretty plays, that’s when you get yourself into trouble. What we’ve got to do is just get the pucks to the top, get some pucks on net and get some ugly goals.” – Ryan Spooner
“We weren’t crisp early on. I think we were trying to do too much, instead of just getting it to the net….. Some of our best chances, we didn’t hit the net. Tough to score that way.” – Bruce Cassidy
With less than four minutes to go in the game, the Monarchs doubled their lead to 3-1 when forward Linden Vey capitalized on a failed clearing attempt by the P-Bruins and fired one top-shelf for his first goal of the season.
Despite a small flurry of shots towards the end of the period, Monarchs’ goaltender Martin Jones would hold the fort, turning aside every Providence opportunity to secure a 3-1 opening night victory for Manchester.
Los Angeles Kings’ prospect Loktionov has bright future ahead
– There is most certainly a reason that the Los Angeles dressed Andrei Loktionov for 39 regular season games in 2011-12. Though he was only able to produce seven points (3G/4A) during that time frame, the Russian rookie performed well enough to earn himself a spot in the lineup for two of the Kings’ first round playoff games against the Vancouver Canucks. Now skating with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs during the lockout, Loktionov’s impressive skill set was on full display against the Providence Bruins on Friday evening. His short-handed tally late in the second period was a thing of beauty, as he bested two P-Bruins’ defenders before snapping a wrist shot past the glove of Hutchinson. The 2012 Stanley Cup champion was creating offense throughout the night, showcasing tremendous speed and on-ice vision. If Loktionov can continue at this pace, I have no doubt in my mind that he’ll be able to earn himself a spot on the Kings’ opening night roster (whenever that opening night may be).
P-Bruins need time to develop valuable team chemistry
– Between the NHL lockout and the infusion of many young rookies, the Providence Bruins have seen quite the roster turnover from last April’s conclusion of the 2011-12 season until today. Many guys who had never before played together were matched up on each of the Bruins’ lines. While there were flurries of chances here and there, the P-Bruins lacked offensive consistency over the duration of the night. That’s something that will improve over time, as these players begin to adjust to each other’s play styles and form valuable chemistry.
“It takes a little time to gel as a team. We have all the aspects of a great team; we have all the skill, toughness, defense, great goaltending. We have all the pieces, now we just have to work on putting it together and getting it flowing as a team.” – Bobby Robins
Ben’s Three Stars:
1) Andrei Loktionov (1 Goal/Plus-1 Rating/2 Shots)
2) Linden Vey (1 Goal/Plus-2 Rating/3 Shots)
3) Jamie Tardif (1 Goal/Plus-1 Rating/4 Shots)
– The P-Bruins will be right back at it on Saturday night as they visit the AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Michigan Fan. Street Hockey Agitator. My work has been featured at the New England and New York Hockey Journals, The Hockey Guys, and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com!