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Working for the Weekend

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins

PROVIDENCE, RI -- The disappointment was apparent after Providence Bruins practice on Wednesday, but nobody in Black & Gold indicated that the team had packed it in after a 3-5 start — far from it.

Caron, Camper & the P-Bruins take on Albany, Manchester and Worcester this weekend.

"We’re just talking about playing our game," said forward Christian Hanson. "We focused more these first eight games on how we’re playing as opposed to the results.

"The results aren’t there, and obviously, at the end of the day, every day we have to walk past the standings in the locker room and we’re not where we want to be. At the same time, I feel like the progress is there every day. We’re making more steps toward our goal.

"As the season progresses, you’re really going to see that the work that we’re doing right now, even if it’s not showing up in the standings, is going to be showing up a couple of weeks from now, and definitely in the second half of the season," he said.

That work was apparent as the club was put through its paces by B's power skating instructor Besa Tsintsadze during a skate in Rhode Island's Dunkin' Donuts Center.

"The American Hockey League is set up such that you do play a lot of weekend games. You have an ample amount of time to work on individual skill basis, and then team philosophy and systems work that the coaches will inevitably work on after they’ve broken down film," said Assistant GM Don Sweeney, who watched Wednesday's session from the stands. "I think [Besa] is another voice for the players to here to get them out of their comfort zone, and just stretch them in areas that—they’re not a finished product. Really, no one is.

"You can continue to evolve as a player, pick up half a step or pick up some lateral mobility, release on your shot, all those things I think we try to incorporate and get kids to understand that there’s still room to grow."

Defenseman Colby Cohen said he appreciated the change up and the focus on basic skills.

"I don’t think there’s like a real big secret to skating well," said the former Boston U. blueliner. "But I think Besa preaches a lot of things that get left behind in youth hockey.

"It helps us as a team to get a little bit ahead of the curve, and it helps us stay sharp on our edges, and work on our balance points.

"Little things that probably get left behind somewhere along the way," he said.

However, Cohen and the rest of the P-Bruins hope their sub par start behind as well.

"We’re focusing on trying to do things right and play with a lot of pace," said Cohen. "The team responds really well when we work on things in practice.

"Our coaches go into practice with a game plan, and I think we’ve been getting the best out of the last five, six practices in a row [which] have been real good practices."

Providence hopes to add the feeling from those strong practices to the momentum garnered by the team via their 3-0 shutout win over St. John's last Sunday as they prepare for tilts versus Albany, Manchester and Worcester — their first three game weekend of the season.

As he looked at the schedule, P-B's skipper Bruce Cassidy said he isn't concerned about the storms on the immediate horizon, but is instead focused about making sure his ship is ready to take on the ups-and-downs of the season.

"We worry about us right now," said Cassidy. "Any coach would tell you at this level when you’re playing Friday, and you’re right back at it Saturday and Sunday, there’s no time between games other than making mental notes, and pointing it out to the guys to really work on things.

"I guess you could take a Wednesday, take 15 minutes and say, okay guys, when we get to Sunday against Worcester, this will come in handy, but I’ve found that doesn’t work. You’re better off cleaning up your own areas of the game you need to do better.

"Manage the puck better, attack better, attack with more speed, puck support, all these things that are going to help you win no matter who you play against," he said.

So, as the team tweaks its own game, the players are concentrating on their drills as they strive to shrug off the slow start.

"Coming into the season, we had high expectations," said first-year pro Torey Krug. "I don’t think the expectations have slipped at all.

"We’re kind of looking at it in, games in five sets of games, and right now, we’re concentrating on the second half of the set of five. We’ve been playing well; we just haven’t been getting the results we’ve wanted.

"A lot of what we talk about on the ice is our transition game. We want to get the puck, we want to move up, and we want to play behind their defense. That’s what we’re focused on in practice, and we’re doing a good job of moving the puck so far," said the defenseman.

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