Sound Tigers sterling killing power plays
By MICHAEL FORNABAIO
Since the beginning of last season, taking a penalty has not been
cause for panic for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Bridgeport has allowed just two power-play goals in its first eight
games, going 33-for-35 on the penalty kill. That ranks the Sound
Tigers second in the league at 94.3 percent, behind Houston, which is
23-for-23 in just four games.
Thanks to Rob Collins' short-handed goal on opening night in
Hartford, Bridgeport has only allowed one more goal than it has
scored while down a man.
"We're getting good goaltending, which really helps," said Bridgeport
assistant coach Dave Baseggio, who runs the penalty kill.
The Sound Tigers have played at least one man down for 68 minutes, 10
seconds. Just over two minutes of that time has been played two men
down, including a two-minute kill against Binghamton Oct. 19 that
helped secure a 1-0 win.
Keying that effort, along with forward Justin Mapletoft, were veteran
defensemen Tomi Pettinen and Mattias Timander, two of an experienced
corps that also includes Alan Letang and Brandon Smith and, when he
returns from injury this weekend, Alain Nasreddine.
"The defensemen are so effective," said forward Ben Guite, a regular
penalty killer. "They're not flashy, but they always have their
sticks on the puck. ... Every breakout is on the tape. Their sticks
are always in (passing) lanes."
The veterans anticipate plays well, allowing them to play
"We can count on them to keep it up, because if three guys are
aggressive and one is not, it's going to break down," Baseggio said.
Letang, Pettinen, Smith and Nasreddine are among those back from last
year's league-leading unit. The Sound Tigers allowed just 48 power-
play goals on 378 times short-handed in 2002-03, killing 87.3 of
their chances, nosing out Hamilton and Hershey (87.2).
In their first two-plus seasons, the Sound Tigers have never been a
team to take a ton of penalties, either. Bridgeport has ranked 23rd
out of 27 teams and 25th of 28 in its first two seasons and went into
Tuesday's games ranked 21st of 28 in penalty minutes per game.
Not overworking the penalty killers makes them more effective,
considering the effort the group must expend.
"It is a hard-working (special team)," Guite said. "Most of the guys
like to bring that blue-collar attitude."