The Providence Bruins lost three games in four days last weekend, as they took on the Norfolk Admirals twice and the Hershey Bears once. Despite a two-goal performance from Josh Hennessy, and a first goal of the season from Dave Warsofsky, the goaltending struggled, allowing 12 goals in three games against these two strong teams.
Dave Warsofsky netted the first goal of the road trip - and his first of the season - in the first period against the Bears on Wednesday, firing it past former P-Bruins netminder Dany Sabourin. Despite that, Hershey took a 2-1 lead going into the first intermission, and it was all downhill from there. Hershey's power play, which is ranked #1 in the league and converts at an astounding 29.3 rate, made it a 2-goal game in the second period, off a goal from Patrick McNeill. Providence appeared to hold on, though, and Calle Ridderwall fed the puck to Craig Cunningham for his second goal of the season, making it 3-2 after two.
The Bears pulled away again seconds into the third period but a rare power play goal from the 29th-ranked Providence power play, Josh Hennessy's goal, made it a one-goal game again. Unfortunately, Hershey managed to hang on for the win Anton Khudobin stopped 26 of 30 shots in the game, and Providence went 1-for-6 on the power play - and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Three goals was the most they'd manage to score for the rest of the weekend. On Friday, the P-Bruins fell to Norfolk 5-1, only managing 18 shots on goal, while Michael Hutchinson stopped 39 of 43 shots from the Admirals. The lone goal came from Jamie Tardif in the first period on the power play, which should have been a marker that the special teams were at least improving. However, the Admirals, who also overwhelmed the P-Bruins at home last month, scored once shorthanded, and once on the power play, while the P-Bruins held them at bay during 6 other penalties. Their other three goals came at even strength.
Saturday was much of the same in Norfolk, only in this third game, the P-Bruins opened the scoring. Jamie Arniel finally assisted on another goal, getting Josh Hennessy his second goal of the weekend and ending his own weeks-long pointless streak. Norfolk never took the foot off the gas, though, and the game went through two periods tied at one. Richard Panik and James Wright put the game away in the third period, pulling ahead to 3-1; although Cunningham potted another one -- off some good faceoff work by Jamie Arniel, and a tipped Matt Bartkowski slapshot -- the P-Bruins were sent crawling back to Providence off a 3-2 loss, three losses and zero points on the weekend, and a kick down the ladder to fourth in the division.
The P-Bruins' recent tough stretch is not brain surgery-levels of difficult to figure out. Their leading scorers are invisible. Zach Hamill, Jamie Arniel, and one-time NHLers Matt Bartkowski and Colby Cohen are supposed to be carrying this team. Anton Khudobin is supposed to be the stalwart in net, as he was last season. Instead, Arniel, who was far and away the team's leading scorer last year, has a meager one goal and five assists in 23 games played. Hamill has 13 points in 20 games, and Carter Camper, an undrafted college kid signed as a free agent last year, is the surprising team leader in points scored with 16 points in 22 games. +/- is an iffy stat but in drastic cases, it works as a good barometer of quality play - and Matt Bartkowski's -11 is telling. Colby Cohen's -5 is, as well.
Although Trent Whitfield may return from his concussion on Friday, solid defenseman Nathan McIver is still out for the foreseeable future, and it'll be a long uphill climb for the P-Bruins to right the ship from here.