BostonBruins.com - The Providence Bruins continue their second round series on Thursday night against the Hershey Bears in the American Hockey League's Calder Cup Playoffs.
The P-Bruins will host Games 3, 4, and 5 all at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Thursday (7:05 p.m.), Friday (7:05 p.m.), and Sunday (3:05 p.m.)
Providence and Hershey have a 1-1 split in the series, after the P-Bruins took Game 1 and the Bears took Game 2.
For Thursday night's game, Providence will get a boost from Noel Acciari's expected return to the lineup.
Fans saw his grit in Boston, especially at the end of the season, when he scored his first two NHL goals and contributed in the postseason with a goal - and plenty of hits - through four games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Acciari was injured to start Boston's first round series against the Ottawa Senators, returned for the final four games, and has remained sidelined by injury since that time, missing the start of Providence's postseason action.
"I'm feeling good, and it's good to be on the ice again," Acciari said on Wednesday from Rhode Island Sports Center, Providence's practice rink. "A lot sooner than I thought. It feels good. I'm excited to help this team out the best I can, and continue the success they've been having so far."
The forward's gritty play was noticeable in Boston, and he's hoping he can carry that experience over to Providence.
"Being hurt kind of stinks up there, while playoffs started, but I was just kind of itching to get out there and it was an exciting moment," Acciari said of his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut. "It was a good experience, and coming back down here, try and take that experience and continue it with these guys I think helped me a lot."
Acciari is expected to slot into the P-Bruins' lineup at right wing alongside Austin Czarnik and Bruins' 2015 first rounder Jake DeBrusk.
"I think it will help a lot - I think he's the exact type of player that you need in this series," Providence Head Coach Kevin Dean said, of Acciari returning to the lineup. "He's a hard defender, he's got some jam and some grit."
"And I think that's our advantage over this team - Hershey's got a lot of skill for sure, so I think we can counter that with some jam and some grit," said Dean. "And Noel really contributed offensively the last quarter of the season, the last third of the season both here and in Boston. He stepped up his offensive game, so I'll look for him to be a complete 200-foot player and get his legs under him, and he'll only get better as the rest of the series goes on."
Video: Providence Bruins taking "no passengers" approach
The P-Bruins' success can be attributed to the "no passengers" approach they have taken all season.
"Our coaching staff, they've really stressed that all year and whoever's in the lineup every night, you can tell, you know we're playing for each other," said forward Colby Cave. "We've got a great group of guys in the dressing room and we're just playing for each other right now, and teams like that tend to have success, and we want to keep that rolling."
The mentality has been stressed by the coaching staff, and also by the management group, who put together a mix of young prospects and veteran players.
"We surrounded our young kids with good guys, and credit to Donny [Sweeney] and to Ferg [John Ferguson], so our young kids could step in and get comfortable," said Dean. "You never want to feel your way through the league, but they kind of do, and they did that in the first part of the year with good guidance from the veterans, and certainly all the young kids stepped up in the second half and last two thirds of the season."
Tight Series on Tap
Providence was less than three minutes away from taking home a victory in Game 2 over Hershey, but were still pleased to head home to The Dunk with the 1-1 split.
"It's good to get a split. Little disappointed we didn't get through there, losing it late. But it's going to be a tight series. I think that's pretty clear to see," said Dean. "Neither team is generating a lot offensively. They're a high scoring team in the regular season and for the most part, we've done a good job defensively."
"They do a nice job defensively in their own end as well and we're not getting a lot of looks, so I think it's going to be a tight, low-scoring series and I think that should favor us, but again, every game's going to be tough and I think if either team isn't there to play with the puck drops, we're going to be in trouble."
McIntyre Strong in Goal
Zane McIntyre has been providing Providence with a great deal of confidence between the pipes. The netminder has yet to allow a first period goal in the series so far.
"He's a wall back there," said Cave. "When you have a goalie like that, it gives you the confidence to make plays. We're all playing for each other, and it starts back there, and works its way up the lineup."