PROVIDENCE, RI — Bruce Cassidy never guaranteed victories.
However, throughout the ups-and-downs of October and November, the second-year head coach of the Providence Bruins simply assessed the talent he had in his locker room and pronounced his team better than its sub-.500 record.
Now, having won seven of its last eight games and five of its last six, Cassidy feels his team is doing a much better job mirroring its on-ice success to that of its skill level
But the Providence bench boss still believes the P-Bruins can achieve more.
"We’re the type of team that plays with a certain level of pace and execution, otherwise we’re going to struggle," Cassidy said after putting his team through practice on Wednesday. "We’ve seen that in games the last three or four weeks; we’ve been able to do it, and it’s resulted in some positive results.
"There’s still some guys that are pressing to put the puck in the net that are going to score that have proven they can do it at this level.
"When they come around, all of a sudden, we’re getting two [goals] consistently, maybe three. If we get three and turn it into four, we’re going to be one of the better hockey clubs," he said.
The offense is beginning to come around for the P-Bruins, as the lamp is being lit at “The Dunk” more frequently, and Cassidy’s squad has been able to find a more consistent attack.
Still though, through the team’s ups and downs, it’s been its back end that has bolstered Providence’s play.
"We’re defending well most nights," Cassidy said. "We’ve had a couple [of games] that have gone the other way on us, but that part of our game is solid.
"We’ve had different defensemen in-and-out of the lineup. Our young kids that we have like Tommy Cross has come up and has been good for us, and [Ryan] Button the other day played well.
"With a couple of veterans out, we’ve still managed to be good back there. It’s just a matter of getting one more goal a night from our skill guys."
There are plenty of candidates to produce that one extra goal for the AHL’s Black & Gold. And with dynamic players like Ryan Spooner and Chris Bourque leading the team in points, Cassidy and the P-Bruins are beginning to see what they envisioned in the preseason.
"The AHL—very few coaches can put the pencil in the same lineup night-to-night," Cassidy said. "That’s just the way it is, but these young guys need to be ready.
"It’s kind of a next-man-up mentality, and when your chance comes, hopefully you’ve prepared yourself appropriately."
And now that the puck is beginning to bounce the right for Providence, Cassidy sounds less like a fortuneteller, and more like a coach with a very good sense of what his team can accomplish.
"[We're] just going out there, and capitalizing on our opportunities," said Bourque. "Offensively, I think we were struggling a bit at the beginning of the season. That comes with the territory of having new guys, and guys not having chemistry.
"You kind of have to build that in the locker room, and have that translate onto the ice. Guys are getting of used to playing with each other, and it’s showing."
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