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Evening the Score

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
NORTH SMITHFIELD, RI — Beyond the sounds of shouts, skates and shots on the rink, the lobby of the Rhode Island Sports Center was quiet during Wednesday's practice, save for the sound of the "Clean Sweep" claw machine telling anyone who cared, "Hey, it's your turn to win."

Well, the P-Bruins know it's their turn, and their 1-1-1 record last weekend certainly didn't erase any of the urgency shown this time last week. But beyond the frustration felt in Providence, there's certainly no reason to throw the towel in on the 2012-13 campaign, either, as the P-B's and their coaches believe the tide will turn in short order.

The AHL Bruins are 4-6-1 (4-5-1 in their last ten), but there seems to be a sense of determination in Providence's Black & Gold, which could help the young group put itself back in a more consistent plane as they work to overcome an admittedly up-and-down start.

"I see us matching the other team’s intensity a lot of nights," said P-B's Head Coach Bruce Cassidy. "I chart the scoring chances, and I believe nine out of the 11 games we’ve out-chanced the opposition. We’ve just found ways to let games get away from us.

"I’m not going to say find ways to lose, because that’s disrespectful to the group, but to let it get away from us a little bit.

"[Last] Sunday was a good example," continued Cassidy. "We’re in complete control, it’s a 3-1 game for us, we’re giving up I think 10 shots through two periods, very few chances, and all of a sudden, we got into penalty trouble and didn’t’ get it done, and now we’re into a shootout, and lose.

"That’s happened to us a few times this year when we’ve been in games and got away from us. We’ve got to make sure we’re more consistent as a group, and that’s going to be the focus going forward."

One item on the agenda at practice: even-strength scoring. The P-Bruins come in last in the Atlantic Division with 31 goals in 11 games (Portland leads with 41 in 11) and today's up tempo skate looked to ignite Providence's even strength attack as well as the power play.

"We work on it everyday, and it’s a matter of getting it done on the ice," said the Providence bench boss. "There have been nights when we haven’t executed very well, specifically 5-on-5.

"I think our power play is where it needs to be, but our 5-on-5 is not good enough right now. Some of that is a result of not getting pucks through from up top to create second chances, and not being hard enough around the net. Some of it is not executing on the rush.

"I think early in the year, most teams are fresh, they’re skating well, so the odd-man rushes are at a minimum, so you have to create offense through other ways, with good forechecks, and turnovers, and we’re just not doing enough of that."

Asked about his club's upcoming three-game weekend, and what he expected out of his P-Bruins, Cassidy was pragmatic.

"I expect us to win all three, but that doesn’t mean it will happen," said the second-year head coach. "You want to be competitive every night, give yourself a chance to win.

"We’re getting better at home. We’ve done a better job protecting our home ice of late. Going up to Portland, which is always a challenge. That seems for us, we go into that building, they’re a high-octane type of team, so we’re going to have to make sure we’re hard on the puck against them. That’s when we’ve had success. Manchester coming in, Bridgeport, those are two very good teams that score a lot of goals, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.

"It’s like that every weekend," he said.

NOTES: Boston Bruins Assistant Coach Doug Jarvis was on the ice for the session…recent call-up from the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays, Alden Hirchfeld, skated with the P-Bruins…Jared Knight skated in a red (non-contact) jersey, while Trent Whitfield remained off the ice…Torey Krug was in the John W. Kennedy Jr. Rink, but did not skate…after practice, as part of "Military Appreciation Week," several members of the team headed to Quonset Air National Guard Base to meet with personnel of the 143rd Airlift Wing.

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