Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:After Tuesday night’s loss at the Coliseum, Jack Capuano spent the majority of his short press conference naming concerns and shortcomings about his defensive corps. Whether it was just an off-hand comment or a serious consideration — honestly it’s hard to tell which — Capuano mentioned that calling up a defender from Bridgeport was an option after it has become clear that the defensive six the Islanders have, less the injured Lubomir Visnovsky and Brian Strait, are not clicking.
“We’ll think about recalling a guy and putting them in the lineup, I don’t know.” Capuano told the assembled media. “The same mistakes can’t happen. We’ve only got six of them back there.”
So, if the Islanders do decide to dip into Bridgeport, who gets the call?
Despite the Islanders prospect depth on defense with first round picks Ryan Pulock and Griffin Reinhart, along with other players such as Ville Pokka and Adam Pelech, none of those players are yet in Bridgeport. Maybe next year.
There’s really only one player in Connecticuit that would even make sense, and that’s of course Calvin de Haan.
De Haan has played well for Bridgeport in his third professional season (including one season lost to injury) but isn’t lighting up the AHL. He’s the team’s most experienced defender and arguably their best, although Andrey Pedan has played well, too. Pedan, for his part, has run into discipline issues and it would be surprising to see him get ‘rewarded,’ so to speak, with a promotion. De Haan runs the team’s power play point, which in full disclosure, the unit is a rough 3-for-43 so far this season. He’s been the only steady defenseman in that role, as others have been swapped in and out as Scott Pellerin looks for an answer to their power play woes.
We’re inching ever closer to the point where it will be now or never for De Haan, the first rounder that the Islanders traded up to get. His entry level contract is up at the end of the year and the Islanders will have to make a decision how they want to proceed with him. It’s hard to imagine the team opting to not re-sign him, but you never know with all of the aforementioned defenders in the system. After battling back from multiple injuries and spending three years in Bridgeport, he deserves a shot. Even if it’s only for a short time, after which hopefully Visnovsky or Strait will be ready to go.
We missed it this weekend with all the trade crazyness, so with the Sound Tigers in action against Hartford tonight it’s as good a time as any for a few thoughts on Bridgeport and their last game against Syracuse:
- On Saturday night, the Sound Tigers got trounced 5-0 by Syracuse in their first road game of the year. All five goals were conceded in a miserable second period that saw them get out shot 22-5. The way the game played out, it could have easily been 7-1. Ryan Strome rung one off the post in the first period and early in the second, the Sound Tigers had one big chance early in the period. There was a wild scramble in front of the Syracuse net, which of course led to a rush back the other way and a soft goal through Nilsson’s five hole. Syracuse missed on some big chances of their own too, so a five spot could have been worse.
- And as far as Nilsson, it’s best for his development if he keeps playing and sees game action. However he has not looked good. Not all five goals were on him — he got hung out to dry on breakaways on at least two of them — but there were easily two of the five that were softies. (1) The first goal on the counter attack seemed to surprise even the shooter, as Nilsson couldn’t close the five-hole fast enough. (2) The third goal of the game ticked off his glove and into the back of the net, vaguely similar to the puck that went off Regin, Talbot and Girardi last night. He did bail out his teammates on a nice breakaway stop in the first period but it’s safe to say he has not looked good this season so far, and had some bad miscues on Saturday.
- Yes, the team has not looked great in front of Nilsson, either. As I mentioned there were more than a couple breakaways allowed and Syracuse’s Russian connection of Namestnikov and Kucherov gave the Sound Tigers fits all night. The Sound Tigers got caught on a change a couple times, had trouble gaining and keeping the opponent’s zone most of the night. They’ve lost games this year but have had spurts of good play and looked decent at times, but not at all on this night. They were getting a lot of shots blocked, getting almost no good transitions, hesitating a lot, not finding good lanes. We’ll see how they bounce back or if they go further down the rabbit hole.Bridgeport is 1-4-1 on the year and goes up against the Hartford Wolfpack tonight.