Providence won all three of its games to keep its slim playoff hopes alive, but along the way engaged in a nasty, penalty-filled affair with Bridgeport and a marathon shootout in Manchester.
After a relatively uneventful 4-2 win over Charlotte last Friday, the P-Bruins rolled to a 6-0 win over the Sound Tigers on Sunday. But the real story of that game was the 125 penalty minutes handed out, 88 of which went to Providence.
Three Baby B's got even longer timeouts, as Kirk MacDonald and Andrew Bodnarchuk were each suspended for three games and Zach Hamill for one game. MacDonald had been ejected for a boarding major that left Bridgeport's Brandon Svendsen needing to be stretchered off the ice, while Bodnarchuk was tossed for an illegal hit to the head on Rob Hisey. Hamill got the gate for spearing Tony Romano in a game that also featured three fights.
Playing shorthanded on Wednesday in Manchester, the P-Bruins didn't get any breaks, as they needed a 14-round shootout to finally prevail over the Monarchs 3-2. Even after those wins, Providence remains in sixth place in the AHL's Atlantic Division, nine points out of the final playoff spot with 16 games to go.
Making the postseason is still a long shot, but Providence did finally find a dependable goalie with newcomer Anton Khudobin earning all three wins. He also earned a spot in the Top 10 Bruins Prospects List, the first netminder to crack the rankings this season. Read on to see where he, and the rest of the organization's brightest hopes for the future, rank this week.
1 Last week: 11. Ryan Spooner, C It wasn't a good week for Kingston, which lost three straight, but the Frontenacs can't blame Spooner. He factored in all of their scoring in a 5-4 shootout loss to Barrie with a goal and three assists, then had Kingston's only goal in the shootout. The Frontenacs also lost to Kitchener and Ottawa, but have already clinched a playoff spot in the OHL. Spooner now has 33-42-75 totals through 59 games this season.
2 Last week: No. 32. Jared Knight, C/RW Knight and the rest of the OHL's London Knights had a light week with just one game, and they might as well have been off the whole week as London fell 5-0 at Mississauga. Knight still remains on more than a point-a-game pace, with 24-40-64 totals through 63 games.
3 Last week: No.23. Jordan Caron, LW/RW While Providence rattled off three straight wins, Caron didn't contribute much to the cause. He had no points and just five shots in the three games, and has now gone four games without a point with just 1-1-2 totals over his last eight games. He did score in a shootout that eventually went 14 rounds before the P-Bruins prevailed at Manchester on Wednesday. Caron has 8-12-20 totals and is a minus-5 in 37 games in Providence.
4 Last week:No. 64. Max Sauve, C/LW Sauve is getting hot at the right time, extending his point streak to six games as the P-Bruins try to make a late run at a playoff spot. He has 4-4-8 totals over that span, with an assist in last Friday's win over Charlotte, a goal and an assist against Bridgeport and another assist at Manchester. For the season, he has 18-10-28 totals and is a plus-6 in 45 games.
5 Last week: No. 55. Craig Cunningham, C
Cunningham opened last weekend with a goal, two assists and a plus-4 rating in a 9-1 win over Seattle, but was held scoreless in his next two games. He's now 10th in the WHL scoring race with 26-57-83 totals to go with 52 penalty minutes and a plus-21 rating in 65 games for Portland, which remains comfortably in first place in the WHL's Western Conference.
6 Last week: No. 46. Zach Hamill, C Hamill had a goal in Sunday's 6-0 win over Bridgeport, but he didn't get to see the end of that game. He was given a spearing major and game misconduct for a jab to the midsection of Sound Tiger Tony Romano in the final minute. That also earned the usually mild-mannered Hamill a one-game suspension. He has 6-29-35 totals and is a plus-8 in 53 games, plus one assist in three games with the big club.
7 Last week: No. 87. Ryan Button, D Button had a pair of assists last Saturday as Seattle pulled out a 3-2 win in overtime against Everett, keeping the Thunderbirds' playoff chances alive. Seattle remains in 10th place in the WHL's Western Conference, three points back of Prince George and Kamloops, but the Thunderbirds have a game in hand on Prince George and two on Kamloops as they try to catch them for the eighth and final postseason berth. Button has 5-28-33 totals and 43 PIMs in 63 games.
8 Last week: Unranked8. Anton Khudobin, G For the first time this season, a goalie cracks the Top 10. Khudobin came over from the Minnesota system at the trade deadline and has made an immediate impact in Providence, going 3-0-0 with a 1.30 GAA, .952 save percentage and a shutout in his first three starts. He made 25 saves in a 4-2 win over Charlotte, 20 stops for a 6-0 shutout of Bridgeport and 34 saves (plus stopping 10 of 14 shootout attempts) in a marathon 3-2 win at Manchester. Khudobin is 22-12-1 with a 2.47 GAA and a .914 save percentage overall in 37 games in the AHL this season.
9 Last week: No.79. Jamie Arniel, C Arniel had assists in two of Providence's three wins last weekend, while also adding eight shots in the three games to top the 200-mark for the season. Arniel is fifth in the AHL with 204 shots, but leads all players currently in the league as the four skaters ahead of him are all currently up in the NHL. Arniel remains Providence's leading scorer with 16-23-39 totals in 63 games.
10 Last week: No. 1010. Boris Valabik, D The towering Slovakian defenseman picked up an assist and a fighting major in Sunday's 6-0 win over Bridgeport. He took on Sound Tigers tough guy Brett Gallant in his ninth fight of the season, while improving his totals to 0-2-2 with 20 PIMs in eight games with Providence and 0-11-11 with 185 PIMs in 57 games overall in the AHL this year. He lost out on a chance for a call-up though when Zdeno Chara wasn't suspended, as Valabik was likely the next in line to fill in on the Boston blue line.