PROVIDENCE, RI — Torey Krug probably doesn’t realize that for many people, tonight’s AHL matchup between the P-Bruins and Hartford’s AHL entry brings back fond memories of NHL Adams Division battles.
Why would he? Krug was only about 6-years-old when the Hartford Whalers packed up, left The Mall and headed south to North Carolina from Connecticut’s capital city.
But he does understand what tonight’s contest — an important AHL rivalry game between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers prospects — means to his team.
"It’s big for us," said Krug after morning skate. "All year, we’ve been aiming for that .500 mark so we can get over that hump, and then kind of move from there.
"So for us, we need to win this game, and get back to .500, and hopefully we can get on a roll here."
A roll would be well-timed for the P-Bruins, who enter this evening 7-8-1 and in fifth place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division. Connecticut travels to Providence with a 9-7-1 docket and in third place in the Atlantic Division.
"They score. They’re four lines deep, and their goaltenders are big guys, we’ve got to get some second chances and traffic on them," said Providence Head Coach Bruce Cassidy. "Like a lot of teams in the American Hockey League, their D, if you press them, take away time and space, you can take advantage of them.
"That’s no different than any other night with any team. It’s a tougher position to learn, so it’s an area you can take advantage of teams, and hopefully we can tonight. But we’re going to have to start scoring some goals.
"We’ve created offense, now we have to finish what we’re creating," he said.
With the P-Bruins fighting an injury bug, recent call-ups from the South Carolina Stingrays should help Providence stem the tide.
"Tommy Cross was called up; he did a great job in South Carolina," said Cassidy. "[Alden] Hirschfeld is up from South Carolina, scored a goal his second game with us, and he adds a good, solid, two-way player. "[Justin] Courtnall was called up…he gave us some physical play the other night, too."
"We’ve got some youth in there and even though we’re a young team anyway, those guys help us. And getting Max Sauve back from a couple of weeks off we’ll help. He…had four goals in 11 games, so adding a little offense to our lineup, which we dearly need."
And tonight is a perfect time for his youngest players to take the spotlight and Cassidy, who understands his teaching role in the AHL, says his own competitive juices get flowing as soon as his club takes the ice on nights like this.
"I’ll tell you when it’s difficult, it’s when the puck drops, because everybody has a certain level of intensity, and you want to see things get done, and you want to win," said the P-Bruins bench boss of the balance between teaching and coaching. "You don’t worry about ‘developing’ when the game is going on, you’re thinking about how are we going to win this hockey game, so that’s when it gets difficult.
"During the week, I enjoy it, the practice times, devoted to trying to get better at certain things, and the video sessions," added Cassidy. "But when the puck drops, that’s when your patience gets tests, and I think if you ask any coach at any level, that’s when it gets hard to think about teaching.
"All you care about is winning, and then the teaching will come later."
And the P-Bruins hope the W’s come sooner…