Late in today’s practice (which was a smidgen later than usual anyway) came word that the Islanders had sent David Ullstrom down to the Sound Tigers. That’ll lengthen the lineup a little. Ullstrom didn’t have a point in his last 12 NHL games after a 2-3-5 start in seven. He hadn’t played more than 10 minutes in the past nine, no more than three shots in any game. So perhaps not the biggest shock; maybe get him rolling again. Have to see where he slots in; Scott Pellerin, just hearing the news was official himself, didn’t want to comment on the move.
Lines were as they were Saturday, more or less. Kirill Kabanov was on the ice early but wasn’t feeling well and was sent home. Everybody else was on.
Brock Nelson went from one assist to three Friday night, if you weren’t keeping score and compulsively refreshing the box score all weekend. His assist on the Aaron Ness goal was always there. By the end of the night he’d been credited with an assist on the empty-netter (a Devils defender never got his stick on the puck), and then sometime over the weekend he got credit for the second assist on the Nino Niederreiter deflection, on which he’d given it to Matt Donovan. He’s just two points behind Niederreiter now for the team lead.
Meanwhile, the team’s at the quarter pole, 19 games remaining. The math didn’t look awful for the Sound Tigers after they won Friday, but everybody else kept playing over the weekend, and most of them earned points. Problematic for Bridgeport. Sixth place didn’t seem out of reach Saturday morning; then Wilkes-Barre won two games, and 10 points away now, that’s distance. The Sound Tigers are seven points behind seventh-place Hershey and eighth-place Connecticut. (Well, that’s on points percentage. On reg/OT wins, swap places.) They’re six behind Albany and Manchester, four behind Worcester, two behind Norfolk. They have games in hand on everybody except Worcester and Albany, but still. Sports Club Stats is a week out of date at this writing; back then, it gave Bridgeport about a 1-in-22 chance of making the playoffs, and since the gap is the same and other teams have run off some clock in the meantime, would figure the odds are a little longer. The simple answer is “win, lots.” But it’s an uphill climb.
The only team that didn’t add points this weekend was Hershey, and it’s pretty clear who the Bears miss. Steve Oleksy, sniper defenseman, scored his first NHL goal Sunday (self-starting video link). Oleksy has four points in his first four NHL games. (In hindsight, when he had a goal and eight assists in his last 17 games here, the offensive outburst was obviously coming.)
And RIP, Kenny Ball.