One byproduct of the NHL lockout has been the extended opportunity big club officials have enjoyed watching their AHL farm team. Bruins coach Claude Julien has watched plenty of Providence Bruins games over the last few months, and he really likes what hes seen of the team while theyve piled up a 5-0-1 record over their last six games.
The energy is rising, the offense is surging and the points are piling up for the P-Bruins as theyve climbed to second place in the Atlantic Division behind the Worcester Sharks.
Its obvious that theyre playing better as a team now. At the beginning of the year there wasnt that spunk or energy that theyre showing right now, said Julien. That happens. Sometimes it happens at the beginning of the year, sometimes in the middle of the year and sometimes it comes at the end. But you can tell theyre in synch right now and theyre excited to get out on the ice.
So what has specifically caught Juliens eye as the Bruins officials keep a list in mind of players that will be invited to a short NHL training camp should the lockout end in the next few weeks?
Its not just one player. Its the whole team, said Julien. That third or fourth is contributing a lot. If its not on the scoresheet then its on the ice creating momentum. The good players have been good players for us. Chris Bourque has really picked up his game and hes been really good. Ryan Spooner is coming along. Jordan has been doing a great job getting in front of the net more, being physical and staying on top of the puck. Some of the things weve asked him to do, hes doing very well.
I think the whole back end on defense has been really good as a whole. I cant talk about one guy because the whole defense has played well at their position. As far as goaltending, what more can you say about Niklas Svedberg? Hes been outstanding in my mind. I see a goaltender from training camp to now thats been a different player. Hes kept them in some games when theyve had slow starts.
The names like Bourque, Spooner and Caron are to be expected as theyve put up offensive statistics in an improved AHL. Svedberg is the surprise after signing as an undrafted European free agent: hes 10-4-1 with a 2.34 goals against average and a .921 save percentage in his first 16 AHL games while adjusting to the North American game.
It should be an interesting group of names indeed if a handful of P-Bruins are called to Boston for a quick audition in the coming weeks.