Islanders: What Is Going on in Bridgeport?
By Johnny Berman
The New York Islanders are currently playing some of their worst hockey of the season. To make matters worse, the franchise has another problem on its hands with their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
How’s this for a stat of the day: There are 132 players in the American Hockey League who have recorded more points this season than any player on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. 132. There are only 31 teams in the AHL, so that means that each team has an average of over four players who have recorded more points than any Sound Tiger.
The player who holds the less than prestigious honor of being the team’s top point-getter is a defenseman, no less. That player is Sebastian Aho (no, not the two-time 30-goal scorer on the Carolina Hurricanes). Aho, who played 22 unimpressive games with the Islanders in 2017-18, is one of the few players on the Sound Tigers who have had a respectable season.
Aho has scored three goals and tallied 27 assists in 48 games. He was the lone Sound Tiger representative at the AHL All-Star Classic back in January. Each team was represented by at least one player in the Classic. Therefore, it is fortunate that Aho has had any semblance of a good season in the AHL, because the team would have been hard-pressed to find another player who they could unironically send.
We do not need to discuss how the rest of the skaters have performed, as there are simply too many dismal stat-lines on the team.
Interestingly enough, the goalies on the team have not been too bad. Former Red Wing Jared Coreau has a 3.15 GAA and .905 SV% in 28 games, while former Islander Christopher Gibson has a 2.86 GAA and .910 SV% in 24 games. These are not dominant stats, but they are more impressive than those of the skaters. Still, these goalies can hardly be expected to carry the load for a team void of any offensive production.
Through 62 games, the Sound Tigers have amassed a 22-33-5 record. That is good for last in the AHL Eastern Conference. The next worst team in the conference, the Cleveland Monsters, has three more points and two games in hand over the Sound Tigers.
Unlike their parent-club, the Sound Tigers have long lost any hope for making the playoffs. This must come as somewhat of a surprise to the team, as they finished fourth in the conference last season. That team went 43-24-6, and earned a playoff spot.
Nonetheless, AHL rosters are a lot less stable than those in the NHL, and the Sound Tigers have lost a lot of their top producers from last season. The Sound Tigers’ top point-getter last season was AHL-veteran Chris Bourque. He notched 54 points in 72 games. He’s now playing professional hockey in Germany.
Other offensive contributors from last season, like Otto Koivula and Michael Dal Colle have been spending more time with the Islanders this season. Even Josh Ho-Sang, who had 43 points in 56 AHL games last season, is now on loan to the Blues’ AHL affiliate.
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Ultimately, the Islanders do not have much to be excited about in Bridgeport right now. While the focus for the organization is to get the parent-club to the playoffs, the organization needs to improve the Bridgeport team in order to build a solid pipeline of NHL-ready players. Otherwise, the organization will continue to have two problems on its hands.