Islanders vs. Bruins: Game 2 TonightApr 29, 2022
No. 6 Bridgeport Islanders vs. No. 3 Providence Bruins
Playoff series: BRI leads 1-0 (Game 1 recap)
Islanders | Roster: 31-30-7-4, 73 points
Bruins | Roster: 36-25-5-6, 83 points
Regular-season series: BRI 6-4-0-2; PRO 6-6-0-0
Game 2: Tonight (7 p.m. ET; AHLTV and Mixlr Radio)
The Bridgeport Islanders and Providence Bruins are meeting in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time ever. The winner of the best-of-three first-round series will move on to play in a best-of-five second round (dates to be determined). If Bridgeport wins, they will play the Charlotte Checkers in the second round. If Providence wins, they will move on to play the Springfield Thunderbirds.
With a .507 points percentage to conclude their 2021-22 regular season, the Islanders snuck into the Atlantic Division’s sixth and final playoff spot. They’ll face the third-seeded Bruins (Boston’s affiliate), as the top-seeded Checkers and second-place Thunderbirds both earned a bye in the first round.
“We earned the right to be there,” head coach Brent Thompson said. “We are definitely the underdogs, and our guys are embracing that role. We feel as a group here that we are just as good as any team and on any given night, we’re going to win.”
The Islanders and Bruins squared off 12 times during the regular season, with each team winning six of those matchups. In fact, each team scored exactly 38 goals in the series. Bridgeport went 3-1-0-0 in its last four meetings against Providence, but suffered a 6-2 loss at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in their last tilt on Apr. 9th.
“Providence is one of the hardest working hockey teams,” Thompson added. “They’re aggressive. They’re really a lot like Boston. I look at our matchup against them and I feel like we can hold our own. If we play our game, focus on our structure, our habits, it’s going to be a war right to the end. I think it’s going to be a pretty evenly-matched series.”
The Islanders finished the regular season winning three of their last five games and earned points in four of their last five at home. Providence ended the regular season 0-5-1-0 in its last six games.
“I think everyone’s excited to be here,” said forward Austin Czarnik, who played parts of four seasons with the Bruins. “We worked hard through this last stretch of the season. We didn’t give up and got rewarded. The job’s not done yet.”
Here's Bridgeport's schedule for the first-round matchup against the Bruins:
Game 1: Bridgeport 2, Providence 1 (OT), Dunkin' Donuts Center, Monday
Game 2: Wed, May 4 vs. Providence, Total Mortgage Arena, 7 p.m. (BUY TICKETS)
*Game 3: Fri, May 6 at Providence, Dunkin’ Donuts Center, 7:05 p.m.
Islanders: Chris Terry led the Islanders in almost every offensive category during the regular season. His 30 goals were tied for seventh among all AHL players and his 61 points shared 18th place. The five-time AHL All-Star also led Bridgeport in power-play goals (10), power-play points (23), game-winning goals (5), shots-on-goal (208) and multi-point games (17). He finished the regular season with three consecutive multi-point efforts (2g, 4a). Aside from Terry, Austin Czarnik ended the regular season on a five-game point streak (4g, 1a) and had 22 points (8g, 14a) in 18 games since returning to the Islanders’ organization from Seattle. Former first-round draft pick Simon Holmstrom had 19 points (5g, 14a) in his last 17 games since March 12th.
Bruins: Cameron Hughes was the Bruins’ most dangerous offensive player during the regular season, finishing with a career-high 45 points (14g, 31a) in 59 games. The 25-year-old had two goals and seven points in 12 meetings against Bridgeport, but has just one point (assist) in his last seven games. Oskar Steen, a sixth-round Boston pick in 2016, also set career highs in goals (15), assists (20) and points (35) during his third season in North America. Six of those points came against the Islanders.
Simon Holmstrom was one of just three players to appear in all 12 meetings against the Bruins during the regular season, and he led Bridgeport with nine points (2g, 7a) in those contests. Cole Bardreau also performed well, recording eight points (4g, 4a) in eight matchups. Chris Terry scored a team-high five goals against Providence. The Bruins were led by forwards Samuel Asselin and Jesper Froden, who each had five goals and nine points in 12 meetings against the Islanders.
Kings of the Crease
Islanders: Cory Schneider played in four of Bridgeport’s last five games, and six of the last eight. He finished the regular season with a record of 14-11-4 in 30 appearances and went 7-1-2 in his last 10 games, allowing two goals or fewer in seven of those. Schneider’s .921 save percentage is fifth in the AHL and his 2.71 GAA is 18th. New York Islanders prospect Jakub Skarek is also a critical part of Bridgeport’s goaltending efforts. He led the team during the regular season with 37 appearances, going 16-14-4. Skarek was named AHL Goaltender of the Month for January, posting a 5-0-2 record, 1.98 goals-against-average and .935 save percentage that month.
Bruins: Troy Grosenick is considered the favorite to win the Aldege "Baz" Bastien Memorial Award, voted as the AHL’s top goaltender. The 32-year-old led the league with a 2.00 GAA and .933 save percentage during the regular season, while adding three shutouts. He faced the Islanders six times, but allowed at least three goals in three of those outings. Fellow netminder Kyle Keyser played in a team-high 32 games during the regular season and faced Bridgeport five times, but was recalled by Boston and likely won’t be available for Providence this week. Brandon Bussi, a 23-year-old Long Island native, signed a one-year, entry level deal with Boston on March 30th and played in five of Providence’s final nine games (3-2-0).
Numbers to know
Islanders: Bridgeport was known to strike quickly during the regular season, scoring 72 times in the first period - tied for third-most in the AHL. In addition, the Islanders power play was solid down the stretch and played a large part in helping the team secure a playoff berth. Bridgeport’s power play scored in each of the last three games, including two goals on Apr. 16th at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Bruins: Providence’s penalty kill was consistently one of the best in the AHL during the regular season. The Bruins’ PK ranked third overall at 84.5% (235-for-278) and was also third on home ice (85.5%). In addition, an early lead benefited Providence mightily during the regular season, with the Bruins scoring the first goal on 39 occasions - fifth-most in the Eastern Conference.
“I was lucky enough to be part of (the New York Islanders’ playoff runs) the last couple of years. We had such a tight-knit group and played a very similar style as our team does here. When I was up top, we knew we could play with anyone in the league. Big, strong, solid goaltending, and we have all the same parts down here. We’re excited for the challenge. – Forward Michael Dal Colle