Bridgeport Feeling Ryan Strome's Absence
Through his first two games with the Islanders, Ryan Strome has displayed why he got the call up to the NHL. The AHL's current leading point getter looks as if he fits right in with the big club. He has been used in many different situation's and hasn't looked one bit out of place. In fact, in his first game against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday he saw time on the first power play unit which speaks volumes to the confidence the coaching staff has in him. His hands are every bit as slick as advertised, he has defensive responsibility, always back checks and gets himself to the front of the net which is something the Islanders need desperately at the moment. The only area for improvement that I have seen so far is that he needs to add muscle mass. Visibly, he looks smaller than everyone else and has been out muscled in some one on one battles, yet he continues to throw the body around very well. This is an easy fix that will come with time. Strome deserves the opportunity that he has been given and there is no doubt in my mind he will be a key contributor once he gets his feet wet.
As much as it is benefitting both Strome and the Islanders with him now being in the NHL, his value to the Sound Tigers is even more evident in his absence. Since his departure, Bridgeport has posted just a 1-3 record. In the four games before his call up, they were 4-0. Their power play has struggled mightily without him and in these past 4 games they have scored only 4 goals. In one of their losses were shut out as well. The return of Anders Nilsson to Bridgeport will bring them stability in net but they need to find a way to produce more offense (you there Pierre-Marc Bouchard?).
On a positive note, Anders Lee continues to play well and will shoulder more of a responsibility with Strome now gone. Lee is next on the call up list so as long as he can maintain his reliable play he shouldn't be too far behind.
The Sound Tigers next game is Friday against the in state rival Hartford Wolf Pack. Although it isn't the Islanders vs. Rangers, it is the next best thing as their futures will go head to head. There is no better opponent to get back on track against so hopefully they can start to gel in the post-Strome era.