Providence still has eyes on the prize

providence_bruins_logo_0809Although they’re now looking up at the Hartford Wolf Pack in the standings in the Atlantic Division, the Providence Bruins still have hopes of finishing on top.

After a 1-1-1 showing last weekend, the P-Bruins get three straight home games this coming weekend, including a showdown Friday with the Wolf Pack. Just a couple points should wrap up a postseason berth, but head coach Rob Murray doesn’t want his club to be satisfied.

“You have to have lofty goals, I suppose. And we have a mindset that we want to be in first place, and/or as high in the standings as we possibly can,” Murray recently told TheBruinsBlog.net. “If it’s not first, we want to make sure that we get to second or hold second. … I had made the point to the guys, the whole year we never had a lengthy lead in first but we’d been able to hold first up until just recently. We may have slipped out for a game or two and then got back … but it’s a situation where we want to be in that top four; we want to be in the playoffs.”

After defeating Manchester, 3-1, Friday, Providence dropped games to Hartford and Worcester — despite holding 2-0 leads in both games. However, Providence salvaged a point with a shootout loss at Hartford.

“(Even up 2-0) we felt that we weren’t really playing our game; weren’t playing as well as we could,” Murray said about Saturday’s loss. “Too many unforced errors and we were just giving Hartford opportunities — not that they weren’t working hard — but didn’t necessarily deserve and kind of got off our mistakes. And it kind of continued throughout the game.”

The P-Bruins bounced back with an effort more to Murray’s liking despite the loss Sunday. South Boston native Kevin Regan was in net and was the victim of a hard-luck goal that got the Sharks rolling. That game, however, might’ve been Regan’s last. The prospect had rehabbed an upper-body injury that he thought was healed enough to play. But Murray said battling through a game might’ve forced Regan to change his tune.

“It’s easy to get through practice and feel good. It’s different when you get in a game, there’s a lot more activity, a lot more athleticism that you need – tracking pucks, reacting to rebounds — that maybe you don’t really do in practice as much,” said Murray, who applauded Regan’s courage for fighting through such a serious injury.

Also on the injury front, the P-Bruins are hoping to get defensemen Ryan Stokes, Andrew Bodnarchuk and Kevin Schaefer back soon. The blue-line corps is as experienced as it has been all year. Dennis Reul joined the club after his junior season ended and he’s “still getting his feet wet.” An injury to Matt Stephenson even forced free-agent signee Jason Fredericks, who has since returned to Colgate to finish up his degree, to delay his trip so he could play Sunday.

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