The Providence Bruins (2-3-0-1, 5 PTS, 6th Atlantic) host the Albany Devils (4-2-0-0, 8 PTS, 4th East) this evening at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center for the teams’ first of just two regular season meetings in 2010-11. The P-Bruins and Devils face-off again at the Times Union Center on Nov. 7.
It’s a new city this year for the Devils but a very familiar match-up for the P-Bruins. In an off-season busy with movement among AHL teams and NHL affiliations, the New Jersey Devils left Lowell, Massachusetts, for Albany, New York, and also departed the Atlantic Division for the East. Now, a history of 10-game regular season tilts will shrink to two, but there won’t be any love lost between Providence and its fiery opponents in red. Over the last five seasons, the P-Bruins and Devils have matched up 40 times with each club winning 20. Providence, however, has enjoyed good success at home over that time, going 12-7-0-1.
The P-Bruins enter play tonight coming off a one-game weekend, an exciting 4-3 overtime win at Worcester last Saturday. Now, the team hopes to carry the momentum home in search of its first Rhode Island win, showing a 0-2-0-1 record at The Dunk. The Devils, meanwhile, are a perfect 2-0-0-0 on the road, most recently a 3-1 victory over Hartford on Wednesday.
Providence is led offensively by rookie defenseman Steve Kampfer’s five points, including a team-high four assists. Max Sauve, out due to injury, and Jamie Arniel, share a club-best three goals apiece. In net, veteran Nolan Schaefer and first-year goalie Michael Hutchinson each have one win, while Schaefer leads the way with a 2.56 goals-against-average and .910 save percentage.
The P-Bruins will be aided in the line-up tonight and this weekend by the addition of veteran enforcer Brian McGrattan, assigned to Providence this morning by Boston for conditioning. The ninth-year pro signed with the parent Bruins as a free agent earlier this month and looks forward to his first action of the season after being scratched for Boston’s first seven games. McGrattan holds an AHL single-season record of 551 penalty minutes as a member of the Binghamton Senators during the 2004-05 campaign.
On the other side, Albany captain Stephen Gionta paces his squad with four points, including three helpers. Several players have two goals each, including rookies Adam Henrique and David McIntyre, along with Brad Mills and Nathan Perkovich. Between the pipes, Jeff Frazee is off to another good start at 3-1-0, including three straight wins, with a 1.78 GAA and .930 save percentage.
On the transaction wire this week, the Devils’ line-up will be a little lighter this evening with the Thursday recalls of defenseman Tyler Eckford and left wing Alexander Vasyunov to New Jersey.
Special teams play has Providence ranking 24th in the league on the power play at 11.5% and 30th on the penalty kill at 63.3%. Albany has also struggled in those areas, sitting 26th with the man-advantage at 9.4% and 20th when short-handed at 80.6%.
Also of note tonight, the P-Bruins will be holding their first annual Pink in the Rink Night in support of breast cancer research. Providence will be wearing special pink and black jerseys and all fans will receive free pink T-shirts as portions of the proceeds from the evening will go to the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation.
The action begins at 7:05 p.m. at The Dunk.
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