PROVIDENCE, RI — Even with all the fresh faces on the 2012-2013 Providence Bruins, there are plenty of players on the P-Bruins roster who can tell you about the disappointment of missing last year’s AHL postseason.
But this year, with a mix of young talent and some new veteran leadership, a cohesive locker room sees no reason why it shouldn’t be playing its most important hockey games come playoff time.
"As long as we keep racking up the points here, they’re going to add up in April," said newcomer Chris Bourque, who currently leads Providence in points with a 2-16-18 line. "We don’t want to be kicking ourselves in the butt when we’re going to be saying, 'We should have won that game back in December or November.'
"We've gone on a pretty good run here, but we’ve go to keep it going. The points aren’t easy to come by, and if we keep rolling, and keep doing the right things, we'll be fine."
To Bourque and the other veteran presences in the P-Bruins locker room's credit, a sluggish start was quickly turned around, something the players have taken notice of.
"A completely different team," said Tyler Randell, describing the change he’s seen in the P-Bruins.
Randell was sent down to South Carolina, and just recalled by Providence While he was in the ECHL, Randell said the P-Bruins turned things around for the better.
"Everyone is playing together really well, all the lines are clicking, and they’re all playing the Boston Bruins Style to the best of their abilities," he said. "That's what’s helping them out."
With the P-Bruins looking to continue to earn points in the standings, it's weekends like this upcoming one with three games — versus Springfield, in Albany, and versus St. John’s — that are critical to Providence, even in December.
"If you look at how close the standings are right now, if you fall behind now, it's going to be tough clawing back," said Craig Cunningham, who was part of the P-B's team that missed the AHL tournament last spring. "Two, three, four points that you don't get on a weekend, you go quickly from sixth to 10th.
"At the end of the day, you obviously want to be in the playoffs. It's always a disappointment at the end of the year when you’re not in the playoffs.
"Last year, we dug ourselves in a pretty big hole at the start of the year, and kind of clawed out at the end, but it wasn’t enough. We have a lot of guys here from last year who realize how important points are early, and how tight the standings really can be."
Cunningham isn’t the only player who, while taking it game-by-game, acknowledged the true test of the talented squad will be an appearance in the playoffs.
"That's our goal, and we don't see any reason why not," said Jamie Tardif, who leads the P-Bruins in goals with 10. "Right now, things are going good, but we still have a lot of hockey games left.
"We’re trying to stay consistent here, and keep getting the wins."
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