At the Providence Bruins game on March 23rd against the Manchester Monarchs, I sat down with a few season ticket holders, who answered my questions and gave their opinions about the 2011-2012 team and season.
The first question I asked was about pre-season expectations. In response, they agreed that they expected the team to make the playoffs this year, and anything less would be a disappointment. Now it looks like the team will not be going to the playoffs this year and everyone is unhappy. This is the second consecutive year without making the playoffs and the fans are beginning to get impatient, me included.
When I asked about what went wrong this season for the team, the list got very long. The first problem was the P-Bruins very slow start. They started the year with only eight wins in their first 23 games.
Injuries also played a huge role in the lack of success this season. Captain, Trent Whitfield missed significant time this year with multiple injuries, but most notably a concussion. He was dearly missed, as season ticket holder Mark put it “The loss of Whitfield really hurt. He does the little things people don’t notice.” Mark also commented on the loss of two key defensemen, Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller, stating “Bartkowski and Miller being out really hurt their defense.” The biggest injury of the year was to star goaltender Anton Khudobin. Mark informed me that “Without Khudobin, they got 5 out of a possible 18 points. That gives you an idea of the value of Khudobin. Goaltending has covered up lots of mistakes defensively.” Also Boston’s injuries have effected this years team as ticket holders Dave and Maureen pointed out. Matt Bartkowski, Josh Hennessy, Carter Camper,Lane Macdermid, Max Sauve, Zach Hamill, Michael Hutchinson, and Jordan Caron have all been in Boston at one point this year, Caron for most of the season. Mark agreed that Boston’s health have affected this Providence team but said “you can’t do anything about call-ups.”
The last major problem is the pathetic powerplay. Mark called the power play “inept” and added ” the powerplay has been like this for the last four years, in the bottom third of the league.” Dave and Maureen also commented on the powerplay and put the blame on the coaching staff. Mark listed many problems with the powerplay including lack of aggression, no one in front of the net, not quality shots from the slot or point, everything has to be below the goal-line, and way too much passing. He said the biggest issue was “they are always looking for the perfect play.”
When I asked Dave and Maureen about their overall opinion of the coaching staff, they made it clear that they are not happy. To start, Maureen told Dave that he can answer this one, and he talked about the countless poor decisions the coaches have made. The first was that they were constantly changing the line combinations, and there was no chemistry between the players because of it. They never got to play with the same guys for any length of time. The other issue was the sitting back and one man forecheck. Sometimes there was no forecheck, it was pathetic.
On the bright side, there were a few positive things that came out of this season. The goaltending by Anton Khudobin was tremendous all year, and defenseman Kevan Miller is a very solid defensive player. He reminds me a Adam McQuaid a ton, they play the same way and it is excellent to watch. Young forwards Carter Camper and Josh Hennessy had excellent years, along with Jamie Tardif and Calle Ridderwall. The Bruins still are in the playoff race too. They are currently four points out of the last spot with 69 points, so they can still make it. The playoffs are unlikely though with so few games left. This year was not as good as wanted, but it is what it is. Dave and Maureen have it a 6/10 for a rating.
I would like to give a special thanks to Providence Bruins season ticket holders Mark, Dave, and Maureen for answering my questions and giving their opinions on this matter.
- Jonathan Duncan