It’s an old school home-and-home weekend between the Manchester Monarchs and Providence Bruins.
The teams meet in Providence tonight at 7 p.m. and then Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
“From a preparation standpoint, it gives you some idea of matchups and you get to know the tendencies of the other team,” Monarchs head coach Mark Morris said of the series. “It helps you stay focused on their style of play and to look for nuances in their game throughout the weekend.”
It also brings a bit of postseason feel to the regular season as well.
“It creates a little bit of a rivalry, which creates more of a playoff atmosphere,” said forward Brandon Kozun. “It’s a good team. We know they have a lot of firepower and we have to make sure we’re ready.”
The Monarchs are 6-1-3 for 15 points, tied with Rockford for the most in the AHL. Providence comes in right behind Manchester in the Atlantic Division standings at 4-2-2 for 10 points.
The teams have already played two games that went to a shootout, with the Monarchs winning both.
Some of the top Boston Bruins prospects continue to play well in Providence. Top scorer Nick Johnson (a Dartmouth product with six goals, two assists for eight points) and Ryan Spooner (2-5-7) lead the way.
Two defensemen also appear on the short list for call-ups if Boston has a need. Blueliners Zack Trotman and David Warsofsky each have three assists, but the plus-minus number for each are the eye-catching stats. Trotman is a plus-seven and Warsofsky a plus-6.
“We’ll have our hands full. I think we’re playing a little better and I’m sure by now they’re playing well with more games under their belt, too,” Morris said. “It should be a great series.”
One Bruins prospect off to a rough start is goalie Malcolm Subban. The 19-year-old first round pick has played in just two games, giving up four goals each time and struggling with a save percentage of .879.
But his development doesn’t need to be accelerated for any reason, so a slow and steady ease into the pro lifestyle is the gameplan for Subban.
After this weekend, the Monarchs will be off until a road trip to St. John’s for a pair of games next weekend.