The following is the kind of thinking that can get you in trouble, but we'll venture it anyway: The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have three opponents this weekend, and two of them are good slump-buster candidates.
Friday: at Hershey (Capitals)
It starts Friday night in Hershey, where the Bears in their 75th anniversary season are fourth in the East Division at 8-10-1. These aren't the back-to-back champion Bears of a few years ago. The Sound Tigers knocked them off 3-2 at the beginning of November in a violent affair.
The Bears think they're rounding into form, and the period of having new Capitals coach Adam Oates around has now passed. From that link, here's associate coach Troy Mann on a couple of Sound Tigers:
"Ullstrom's as good a skater as I've seen at this level," Mann said. "He's got NHL speed. I think that the only way to contain him is to play in-your-face-type of hockey. DeFazio, he's a guy that Frenchy and I have always liked as a player and was tough to play against last year."
Saturday: Home to Worcester Sharks for Military Night
Saturday the Sound Tigers return home to face Worcester, a foe that has performed nearly as well as Bridgeport this year with a 9-7-1-1 record. Just like the Sound Tigers, the Sharks are coming off a blowout loss where they started slow. Something must give.
But first, Worcester plays in Portland Friday night on Military Appreciation Night, complete with auctionable pre-game camo jerseys. (Army crawl is optional.)
For both games, the Sharks will be without the suspended Matt Pelech, brother of Islanders prospect Adam Pelech, who has been impressing in Erie this OHL season (of course now a coach that raved about him has been fired).
The Sound Tigers lost both previous meetings with Worcester back in late October.
Sunday: Home to Norfolk (Ducks) for Teddy Bear Evening
Speaking of recent champions, these aren't last year's Admirals either. (In this case, quite literally, thanks to an affiliate swap.) Norfolk, last in the East Division, is the worst of the weekend's opponents. At 7-11 (including two shootout wins), they've given up 13 more goals than they've scored and enter the weekend on a six-game losing streak.
But before they visit Bridgeport, they visit Hershey Saturday night. Sunday, assuming they give up a goal to the Tigers, the teddy bears shall rain down.
You can start the weekend in this thread with your game observations and questions.
In the blog (where Michael Fornabaio will live blog off the radio tonight), there are also notes on the signing of Jordan Hill to a full one-year contract, and Casey Cizikas' imminent return to the lineup.
Help us, Sound Tigers. You're our only hockey. (Okay, not really, but still.)