It was two close ones, but the lockout-infused Bridgeport Sound Tigers went winless on their visits to division leaders Friday and Saturday night.
A question now relevant is whether some of them will be headed to NHL camp next. One way or another, the NHL lockout is nearing its climax and we'll know within a week or so if there's actually an NHL season. Along with that, some current AHL stars will become NHL camp candidates in very short order.
Bridgeport lost 5-4 in Springfield Friday night, with Kevin Poulin giving up five on 32 shots, John Persson scoring two goals, and Nino Niederreiter and Matt Donovan collecting a goal and an assist each. Saturday night was a lower-scoring but higher-shooting affair, with Anders Nilsson stopping 36 shots in the 2-1 loss while his counterpart Mark Visentin stopping 39.
All of the aforementioned Sound Tigers are guys who are making cases to become New York Islanders, and soon. (Speaking of which, Casey Cizikas was hurt in the game but, though quite painful, it is not the long-term kind of hurt.)
Between Niederreiter, Cizikas, Persson and fellow Swedes Johan Sundstrom and David Ullstrom -- to say nothing of Brock Nelson, who is currently out with a broken jaw -- the Sound Tigers feature a lot of players you could picture filling roles on the Isles right now. ("Right now," in the whole "the NHL plays hockey" sense, I mean.)
That's in addition to the familiar blueline candidates like Donovan and Aaron Ness -- and add feel-good story and hard shooter Jon Landry to that discussion.
Then in goal, you have two candidates who have been alternately stellar and average at different moments this season. But with Evgeni Nabokov aging and not playing pro hockey right now and Rick DiPietro aging in a completely different way, those Bridgeport goalies are in the conversation.
Some NHL clubs are apparently already withholding their top AHL prospects from games. Bridgeport next plays Tuesday against Hershey (and then Friday, supposed lockout D-Day, in Providence, so it'd be rather early to do that. But even given that in this lockout, the next breakdown in talks is just a tantrum away, it's a good bet Bridgeport will be losing some roster players, and soon.