November 1, 2010

AHL Journal: P-Bruins' poor start unexpected

by Dan Hickling

Steve Kampfer (photo: Dan Hickling)

The election season often produces an October surprise or two, and the same could be said of the AHL's opening month.

October brought about several developments, and a few of them could be said to be unexpected. High up on the list would be the sputtering start of the Providence Bruins.

The Baby B's have won just two of nine games to date, and are tied with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the bottom spot in the Atlantic Division standings.

For Rob Murray's squad, life has presented a double whammy. For starters, it’s not scoring, having potted just 18 goals, fewest in the entire, 30-team AHL. And a third of those came in one game, a 6-5 OT win over Springfieldin the second tilt of the season.

Unless the name is Bobby Orr or Paul Coffey, it's not generally a good sign when a defenseman is a club's top point getter. Yet such is the case with the Bruins, who are led by Steven Kampfer's 2-4-6.

Joe Colborne (1-4-5) and Zach Hamill (0-1-1), both former No. 1 draft choices by Boston, have yet to ignite and Max Sauve, who netted all three of his goals in that Falcons tilt, has been hampered by a wrist injury.

Making matters worse is the club's inability to keep the puck out of its own net. The Bruins have surrendered 33 goals, third-worst in the league.

Oddly, division leader Portland (8-2-0) has allowed just one fewer goal, but has filled enemy nets with 39 goals, third-best in the AHL. An abundance of goals atones for a few defensive transgressions.

With honors

AHL players with New England ties swept the league's monthly awards for October.

Hershey's Keith Aucoin (Chelmsford, Mass.), the AHL’s reigning MVP and scoring champ, is -- no surprise here -- still atop the ladder with 19 points (five goals, 14 assists). He's also carded at least a point in all 10 of Hershey's games, to date, and was named the AHL Player of the Month.

Splitting Goaltender of the Month honors are Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins netminders John Curry (Boston University) and Brad Thiessen (Northeastern). Both were signed out of school as undrafted free agents by Pittsburghand, while each is biding his time for an opportunity in the Steel City that may never come, that doesn't mean the NHL's 29 other teams aren't watching. Splitting the chores right down the middle, both have contributed mightily to the Baby Pens' 8-0-0 launch.

Finally, Portland Pirates center Luke Adam was named Rookie of the Month. Adam spent the past weekend with the parent Buffalo Sabres – recalled after Nathan Gerbe (Boston College) took a Tyler Myers slapshot flush on the jaw – and still leads all first-year scorers with 13 points (six goals, seven assists). He will meet up the Pirates in time for their games Tuesday and Wednesday in Charlotte.

Double play

Connecticut diehards on Wednesday can easily take in an Atlantic Division double-dip. It begins at 11 a.m.with the Springfield at Bridgeportschool-day clash, and then continues at 7 p.m., when the Manchester Monarchs visit the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Dan Hickling can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com.