The New York Islanders made the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season and a week ago, as a prelude to the beginning of their first round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team called up several players. The players called up to the big club were Matt Donovan, Calvin De Haan, Brock Nelson, Aaron Ness, Anders Nilsson, John Persson, Ryan Strome and Johan Sundstrom.
This is the year that the New York Islanders should look to be buyers at the trade deadline.
It is only just eight days away, and the Islanders presently sit with 31 points, just two shy from tying the New York Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot with only 16 games remaining in the regular season.
Typically at this juncture, the Isles are on the verge of collapsing into the final three spots of the Eastern Conference and increasing their chances of winning the draft lottery. Although that is still a frightening scenario that can still play out for Garth Snow's squad, it is time for the Isles GM to make a statement that the rebuild is over.
Ullstrom is most effective when he's skating hard and working the forecheck to create turnovers. When he is on, he's also a pest and easily gets under the skin of opponents, all the while playing a clean game.
When Ullstrom is doing these little things, that's when he is creating his best offense. Forcing turnovers and converting them to offense is the hallmark of the young Swede.
New York, as many knew, was weak on defense and several experts had elite defensive prospects such as Cam Fowler slotted for Long Island.
What would Garth do? The Islanders General Manager decided to go with the Swiss born Nino Niederreiter. It raised a few eyebrows, but not because the power forward lacked talent. It was surprising merely because he was not a blueliner.
Would the Isles select a defenseman this day? Would there be any reaches?
Let's take a look at that draft and see what happened.
Two minutes and fifteen seconds into overtime on Sunday, Hartford’s Brandon Segal took control of the puck on a two-on-one breakaway with defenseman Logan Pyett. Under heavy pressure from Sound Tigers forward Jack Combs, Segal found Pyett on his left streaking toward the goal. Pyett quick-wristed Segal’s pass to the back of the net with purpose.
The force of the puck hitting the twine trampolined BST goalie Kenny Reiter’s Gatorade bottle into the air and while waiting for the red light to start flashing and referee Ned Leduc to point his accusing finger, Reiter could only turn and watch with distain as the offending puck made its’ exit. Game over, weekend over and only one win to show for it. But we all remember how the weekend began.
Last years Sound Tigers came into March like lambs, losing 9 of their first 11 games, and went out like lions with a 4 game win streak that stretched to 7 in early April. If this years’ team doesn’t reverse fortunes and enter March like lions their season could end before April begins.
The team will begin their third consecutive three-games-in-three-nights series this Friday. Needing to capture every point available, let’s hope they can avoid the weird series played two weeks ago and the one that began last Friday night with a slug-fest in Springfield.
The thirty-eight inches of snow deposited in Milford by a blizzard named ‘Nemo’ forced the AHL and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to cancel a weekend of hockey at the Webster Bank Arena. Pay-loaders, bob-cats, backhoes and shovels that were used in late October to remove the sand left on East Broadway by a hurricane named ‘Sandy’ were pressed back into service for snow removal.
Schedules, plans, and lives were put on hold while streets were being cleared, and some of the sand collected in the fall was placed back on the roads so we could return to our normal daily routines. The Sound Tigers returned to their schedule on Tuesday evening when they hosted the conference leading Springfield Falcons after an unprecedented ten-day layoff. The obvious question was, ‘How would the team perform after all that down time?’
The Sound Tigers, like every team in the AHL, started the season with an unexpected wealth of talent. Niedereitter, Ullstrom and Cizikas, whom most had expected to be in the NHL, were back in Bridgeport along with prospects Brock Nelson, Johan Sundstrom, John Persson and Kirill Kabanov. Scoring goals should not prove a problem.
In net, both Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson were still on the roster, while most had expected one to get called up to serve as Nabokov’s back up on the Isles. Poulin and Nilsson had each earned ‘AHL Goalie Of The Month’ awards during the teams Division Championship season and there was doubtfully no more promising tender tandem in the league. No problem.
Before the first puck was dropped this year there were a few questions about the Bridgeport Sound Tigers chances of repeating as division champions. The biggest question being, who is going to do the scoring?
Of the top thirteen scoring forwards from last season only David Ullstrom and Casey Cizikas returned. Free agents Brandon DeFazio and Colin McDonald, acquired from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penquins, and Matt Watkins from the Portland Pirates will provide a solid veteran presence that can be counted on to put up some big numbers, but what about the kids?