The Bridge Report: Division Lead Within Reach

Time to go big.
Time to go big.

My first article for the Sound Tigers is extremely late and I do apologize, however it doesn’t mean I haven’t seen them in action. I’ve been able to catch a good portion of their season and have a few thoughts as the team embarks on taking first place in the Northeast Division. First off despite the record, the Sound Tigers are a work-in-progress. There are players who really have not played a long time with each other and are winning despite this disadvantage. Practicing always helps, but when it’s game time, it’s a different beast. The Sound Tigers currently stand at 8-3-0-1, good for 17 points and are tied for first place in the Northeast Division with the Hartford Wolf Pack. I had said this before at the beginning of the season, the Sound Tigers should be going for a division title and depending on who is on this roster come playoff time, should make a run at the Calder Cup. Let’s go over what’s made Bridgeport successful so far.

The power play is just nasty. The Sound Tigers have been making teams pay every time they’re on the man advantage. Over this past week(end) that saw the Sound Tigers win all three games, they went 8 for 16 on the power play. If the Sound Tigers come close to that mark, they’re not losing many games.

The arrival of Alan Quine (wink, wink to the BST Booster Club. I predicted him to step up) has been a refreshing sign. The 2011 third round pick of the Detroit Red Wings is having a break out season scoring thirteen points in twelve games and currently has a seven game point streak. Why is this a big deal for Islanders fans? Because you can never have enough depth at defense or at center.

Speaking of the defense, they’re giving up 2.66 goals a game which is a pretty solid number considering most have not played with each other. You know Bridgeport has a young defense when your “veterans” are Scott Mayfield and Aaron Ness. I do like Kevin Czuczman’s play so far this season and when Griffin Reinhart shoots the puck, offense is created and he keeps racking up the points. He currently has 7 points in 9 games while Czuczman is a +6.

The goaltending is solid with Kevin Poulin and David Leggio. Poulin is 6-1-1 with a 2.16 goals against average and a .935 save percentage despite a young defense in front of him. He clearly is the number one goalie in the early goings. Leggio has not been as dominant going 2-2 with a goals against average of 3.27 and a save percentage of .879. With the offense now clicking and averaging close to four goals a game, watch for both Leggio’s and Poulin’s numbers to improve.

Final thoughts so far: The Sound Tigers still need to work on their defensive zone coverage a bit more and playing a full 60 minutes every game is going to be the key. As I had said before this is going to be a work in progress, but this is a veteran heavy team this year, even with some of the younger defenseman. Don’t be deceived by Poulin’s numbers either. He is no longer on an entry level deal. He should be posting numbers like this. Players like Poulin, Ness, Zolniercyk (14 points in 12 games), Colin McDonald, and Mouillierat are no longer developing. It’s the same concept as an over-ager still playing in the Junior Leagues, great numbers are to be expected. If the Islanders continue to play injury free and the return of Bailey and Grabner happens, then the Sound Tigers could receive Anders Lee back and possibly Ryan Strome or Corey Conacher, which will only add more fire to this potent power play and offense. As the defense improves and it will, the longer a run to the Calder Cup finals is a real possibility.

Next up for the Sound Tigers, a battle for first place against the Wolf Pack on Friday 11.14.14 at 7pm

PK @Netminder39

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