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Hot Team: Providence Bruins
After a rough start to the season that had them sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic Division, the Bruins are 7-2-0-1 in their last 10 games and are a point behind the division-leading Worcester Sharks.
Veterans Chris Bourque and Jamie Tardif are leading the resurgence. Bourque has nine assists in his last 10 games, while Tardif has six goals in his last six games and leads the team with 10 on the season. But the real force driving Providence’s success is rookie goaltender Niklas Svedberg, who has held his opponents to two or fewer goals in nine of his last 11 starts.
Most of the Bruins’ recent wins have been close games (three of their last four games needed overtime or a shootout), so Svedberg will have to remain sharp for Providence to gain the division lead.
Cold Team: Charlotte Checkers
Charlotte’s hold on the South Division remains tenuous after winning one of three games this weekend. The Checkers are 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 and hold a one-point lead on the Houston Aeros and Texas Stars.
Charlotte was the league leader in goals scored, but aside from a 5-1 victory over Lake Erie last Friday, the Checkers have struggled to score more than two goals in a game on their recent homestand, which will last three more games for a total of 10. Charlotte’s home record is 4-7-0-0 and its power-play is half as efficient at home (14%) as it is on the road (28%).
Considering how well Charlotte scores on the road (49 goals scored in 13 away games), the homestand can’t end soon enough.
Prospect Watch: San Antonio Rampage
Jacob Markstrom, widely considered the future of Florida Panthers goaltending, was named AHL player of the week after leading the Rampage to four straight wins over the Abbotsford Heat and Oklahoma City Barons.
Markstrom allowed just two goals on 70 shots in two wins over Abbotsford before containing the offensive-powerhouse Barons to five total goals in two wins over Oklahoma City. Markstrom finished November with a pair of victories, giving him a personal winning streak of six in a row.
San Antonio is two points away from climbing out of the basement of the South Division. Whether or not it does depends entirely on Markstrom’s performance.
Surveying the schedule:
- The St. John’s Sea Dogs have a busy week, hosting Hershey on Tuesday and Wednesday before travelling to Springfield and Providence on the weekend to kick off a road trip that will continue into the new year.
- The Hamilton Bulldogs begin the week at home hosting Lake Erie on Tuesday before travelling to Chicago on Thursday. They will remain in the midwest for the weekend, facing Rockford and Milwaukee.