Providence Bruins fall to Worcester Sharks in shootout, 3-2

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Providence Bruins fall to Worcester Sharks in shootout, 3-2

PROVIDENCE The Providence Bruins didnt get the twopoints on Sunday afternoon, but they probably should have.

The P-Bruins outshot the Worcester Sharks by a 53-32 marginand dominated long stretches of the contest, but ended up falling to the Sharksin the shootout by a 3-2 score at the Dunkin Donuts Center. For the weekend,however, Providence took five out of six points continuing to place themselvesin an improving position within the Eastern Conference.

Were disappointed but were not discouraged, saidP-Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. We wanted that additional point today, but wetook five out of six points. Thats been our best weekend so far, so well takeit.

James Sheppard scored as the first Sharks shooter in theextra session shootout and five Providence players were kept off the board tohand Worcester the extra point. Sharks goalie Harri Sateri went into thecontest featuring an ugly 3.64 goals against average and a weak .867 savepercentage, but he turned away nearly everything the P-Bruins threw at himwhile making 51 saves.

That helped tip the scales for a Worcester team thats beenlooking for some good goaltending.

Christian Hanson scored his second goal in as many gameswhen he pushes a shot past Sateri in the first period, and Providence appearedin complete control while outshooting the Sharks by a 25-8 margin. But theP-Bruins had a skater fall down during a power play at the end of first thatopened the door for a Yann Gourde shorthanded strike that tied things up with20 seconds to go in the first.

That killed Providences momentum and set up another evenperiod where Justin Florek and Tyler Kennedy traded goals. Floreks score washis first AHL goal of the season in 16 games while Kennedy sniped a top shelfbomb past Niklas Svedberg. Both sides battled to an even third period beforeProvidence dominated the overtime, but it took the always-exciting shootout toeventually decide things.

GOLD STAR: Hanson had two points and a first period goal that attempted to set the tone for the P-Bruins, and he had three shots on net. That the big-bodied center was able to do it after losing linemate Lane MacDermid to a first-period injury and adjusting to the introduction of Justin Florek to their line makes it all the more impressive. Even better Hanson was one of the players instrumental in getting Philadelphia Flyers scoutYou Can Play Executive Director Patrick Burke into the dressing room following the game to talk about ending homophobic slurs in the hockey locker room. All of that adds up to a massive impact on and off the ice on Sunday. Clearly, Sharks goaltender Harri Sateri was the player of the gamewith 51 saves in a stand-on-your-head type effort.

BLACK EYE: Jordan Caron and Ryan Spooner are two of the biggest offensive talents on the P-Bruins roster, but both were resoundingly silent Sunday. They both finished with one shot on goal apiece, and its amazing to think they barely had any offensive impact on a day when Providence had 50 plus shots on net. While Spooner has clearly done his offensive duty as the second-leading scorer on Providence this season, Caron could stand to pick up some offensive steam with five goals and seven points in 19 AHL games.

TURNING POINT: Providence could have put Worcester away by burying a few more of their first period chances while they were ringing up 25 shots on net, and MacDermid was smacking his only scoring chance of the game off the post before going down with an upper body injury. But instead the P-Bruins surrendered a short-handed goal in the closing seconds of the first period that tied things up, and all of their potential momentum was gone. Its been a common malady for Providence this year: outshooting opponents but having little to show for it at the end of the offensive outburst. It really speaks to needing more finishers on offense.

BY THE NUMBERS: 8 the number of shots on net for defenseman Zach Trotman, who has shown a tremendous ability early in his career to snake points shots through traffic all around the net. Thats something any NHL defensemen corps can use more of.

QUOTE TO NOTE: If you watched our games this weekend, I think our team is really coming together. Were starting to play the type of game thats going to make us effective: getting pucks deep, banging bodies and getting pucks to the net. Its simple hockey that I think the Bruins play top to bottom. Christian Hanson, who put together back-to-back multiple point games on Saturday and Sunday.

Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

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Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies:

 

QUOTES

"I felt a little cramp. I'm fine. I appreciate John and everybody looking out (for me). We obviously don't want anything to happen like last year, but I'm good.'' - Dustin Pedroia, who left the game in the fifth after experiencing some tightness in his right hamstring.

"It's nice to be able to get deep into the game. That's my goal every time. My goal is nine innings, so if I don't get nine innings, I'm a little disappointed because I want to be able to go out there and pitch as many innings as I can.'' - Steven Wright.

"I think my release point was just a little off. That definitely makes it hard, especially when it's moving, because it's not a consistent release point.'' - Wright on the early-inning unpredictability of his signature pitch.

"Even when I was catching, I pride myself on running. I want to be an athlete back there. I want to run the bases, steal bases, things most catchers aren't known to do.'' - Blake Swihart, who hit two triples.

 

NOTES

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 29 games.

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 18 games.

* David Ortiz tied Paul Molitor for 12th on the all-time doubles list with 605.

* Ortiz has driven in multiple runs in three straight games

* Dustin Pedroia has a career batting average of .340 in interleague play, the highest ever for someone with 500 or more at-bats.

* Travis Shaw drove in three runs and now has 68 RBI in his first 111 games since Fred Lynn and Jim Rice in 1974-75.

* Blake Swihart became the third Red Sox hitter this season to post two triples in the same game.

* The Red Sox clinched their fifth straight home series win.

* The Sox are 21-8 since April 24 and are 13-2 in their last 15 home games.

 

STARS

1) Steven Wright

Backed by some rare run support, Wright evened his record at 4-4 with seven-plus innings and his eighth quality start this season.

2) Travis Shaw

Shaw produced two hits and knocked in three runs, making him the fourth Red Sox player this season to reach 30 RBI.

3) Blake Swihart

Swihart got to flash both his power and his speed by hitting two triples to the triangle, motoring around the bases.

 

Some questions and answers when it comes to Miller contract

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Some questions and answers when it comes to Miller contract

A day after the Bruins announced a much-maligned four-year contract extension for defenseman Kevan Miller, B’s general manager Don Sweeney held court with the media to equal parts explain/defend the $10 million deal. Sweeney pointed to the very high character of a hardnosed player in Miller, and the relatively low mileage given that he’s played only 159 games at the NHL level.

There was also mention made of the room to grow in Miller’s game, though it’s difficult to imagine a much higher ceiling for a 28-year-old player than what the former UVM produced showed in 71 games last season.

“Kevan brings incredible character. His signing provides us with the necessary depth on our defense that all teams need. His relative low-mileage, having just played 160 games, we identified that we think Kevan has room for continued growth and development,” said Sweeney. “We certainly saw that in his play this year when he had an expanded role. Relative to the free market place, very, very comfortable with where Kevan fits into our group, and this provides us with the opportunity to explore the marketplace in every way, shape, or form, in having Kevan signed.”

Here’s the reality: Miller is a 5-6, bottom pairing defenseman on a good team, and a top-4 defenseman on a team like last year’s Bruins that finished a weak 19th in the league in goals allowed. The five goals and 18 points last season were solid career-high numbers for a player in the middle of his hockey prime, but he barely averaged 19 minutes of ice time per game as a front top-4 defenseman. Miller struggles with some of the fundamental needs in today’s NHL if you’re going to be a top-4 D-man: the tape-to-tape passes aren’t always accurate, there’s intermittent difficulty cleanly breaking the puck out of the defensive zone and Miller was exploited by the other team’s best players when paired with Zdeno Chara at points last season.

Certainly Miller has done some good things racking up a plus-55 rating during his three years in Boston, but executives and officials around the league were a bit surprised by the 4-year, $10 million contract extension. It’s viewed as a slight overpay in terms of both salary and term, but it’s more the redundancy of the contract that’s befuddling to some.

“Miller is certainly a rugged guy, but you already had one of those at roughly the same value in Adam McQuaid. I believe that you can’t win if you have both McQuaid and Miller in your top 6 because they are both No. 6 D’s in my mind,” said a rival NHL front office executive polled about the Miller contract. “You look at the playoffs and the direction that the league is headed in, and you need to have big, mobile defenseman that can quickly move the puck up the ice. You have too much of the same thing with Miller and McQuaid, and I think you can’t win with that in this day and age.”

The one facet of the four year Miller contract that might make it okay for some Bruins fans: the tacit connection to the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes. According to several sources around the league, the Bruins taking care of Miller now will very likely have a positive impact on their chances of landing Vesey when he becomes a free agent on Aug. 15, and makes them the front-runner for the Harvard standout’s services. Both Miller and Vesey are represented by the same agent in Peter Fish, and those are the kinds of behind-the-scenes connections that many times factor into free agent signings and trades around the NHL.

So many, this humble hockey writer included, may owe Sweeney a slight apology if paying a $10 million premium for a bottom-pairing defenseman in Miller now pays dividends in landing a stud forward like Vesey that’s drawing interest all around the league.