Shorthanded Providence Bruins set to embark on a tough holiday slate
After a weekend sweep of the Springfield Thunderbirds, the Providence Bruins found themselves remaining near the top spot in the AHL’s Atlantic Division, tied with the Hartford Wolfpack with 39 points.
Neither the P-Bruins or Wolfpack can afford a lengthy drought at any point as the two teams will presumably be neck and neck come the end of the regular season. A slump could knock either squad from the all-important top seed and home-ice advantage for the first two rounds of the postseason.
The P-Bruins will have quite the stretch coming up over the next two weeks. The schedule includes a pair of tilts with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, along with another pivotal matchup with the Wolfpack and the Falcons. The Baby B’s don’t return home until after the new year when they host Hartford again on Jan. 3.
But the shorthanded Providence Bruins enter its holiday stretch a little banged up. Much like their parent club in Boston, the Baby B’s have had their share of injuries this season, and, could be without a few key contributors during their five-game holiday road swing.
Forward Jakub Lauko was stretchered off the ice during after catching an inadvertent elbow from Utica’s Justin Bailey on Dec. 7. Thankfully, Lauko gave a thumbs up to the crowd on his way off the ice and returned to the Dunkin Donuts Center later that day. He would attend Providence’s game with Hartford the next day, but obviously did not dress.
Lauko, who had recorded four goals and four assists in 18 games during this rookie season, sustained an upper-body injury following the Bailey hit. There’s no time table for his return, but the talented prospect reportedly returned to the Czech Republic on Dec. 17 — in time for the World Junior Championships — after passing his concussion test according to Mark Divver.
Cameron Hughes (three goals, seven assists in 30 games) is also looking at a lengthy recovery period after receiving a check from Tommy Cross during Sunday’s tilt with Springfield. Hughes skated to the locker room with a towel on his head as the former P-Bruins captain earned a match penalty for his hit to the head. Providence coach Jay Leach confirmed that Hughes entered concussion protocol.
“Tommy was coming with a full head of steam,” Leach said of the hit. “Hughsie, unfortunately, didn’t see him.”
Veteran defenseman Chris Breen hasn’t skated in a game since Veteran’s Day. Anton Blidh hasn’t suited up in a P-Bruins tilt all season following his shoulder surgery in September. Zach Senyshyn sustained a lower-body injury in Boston after showing progress with the big club.
The trio, all deemed week-to-week, hit the ice on their own last week.
“Each one of those guys are week-to-week,” Leach said of the three, “Senyshyn is more in Boston and is rehabbing up there, Lauko has been on the ice and [had] a test on Monday. Breen was on the ice [Sunday] morning.”
Much like their parent club in Boston, the Providence Bruins have encountered the dreaded injury bug. But yet, both teams still find themselves at the top of their respective divisions.
The shorthanded Providence Bruins will have a few bodies out of the lineup during the tough holiday stretch, but they may have a little bit of good news as the Bruins sent Senyshyn back to the AHL after activating him from IR earlier in the week. They can use all the help they can get to maintain their standing in the Atlantic Division.