Nilsson hopes to build toward Islanders return
Updated 12:56 am, Friday, January 31, 2014
It was a win, at least; he and the Islanders beat Philadelphia 3-2 in a shootout on Jan. 20. It's still the only time he's faced shooters in anger in three and a half weeks.
He still feels his latest NHL tour, spelling the injured Evgeni Nabokov for the second time this season, has been a benefit.
"The tempo and speed is better, obviously," said Nilsson, who returned to Bridgeport this week to practice at the Wonderland of Ice. "You improve a lot in (NHL) practice. The tempo goes up a lot. Though I didn't play much, I think I improved."
The Sound Tigers play four games the next two weekends before the AHL's four-day all-star break, which arrives just as the NHL goes dark for two weeks for the Olympics. Those four games begin Friday in Albany.
"I'm actually excited to get back here and play some games," Nilsson said. "I've had one game in three weeks. I'm excited to get back and hopefully get some games."
They'll be looking for consistency from Nilsson. He has had some great nights, like a shutout in Hartford in December, and some tougher ones that leave him with a goals-against average over three.
Most of the team is in a similar boat, youngsters looking to be consistent. The Sound Tigers have found a bit more of that during the four-game winning streak they carry to Upstate New York on Friday.
"It starts with the goalies, it starts with the defense, and the forwards have got to follow all over the ice," Bridgeport coach Scott Pellerin said. "We're looking to continue (Nilsson's) development and get him back to the NHL."
Nilsson's experiences up there -- a stint two years ago in his rookie season, a practice-squad role during last year's playoff series against Pittsburgh, a couple of tours this year -- have given him a good glimpse of life at the next level.
"I know how everything works up there now," Nilsson said.
"I feel better and better every time I'm up there."
ALL-STAR TV: The AHL All-Stars' game against Farjestad of Sweden will air live locally on MSG Plus 2 and NESN Plus on Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. The skills contest, the night before at 6:30 p.m., will air on NESN and MSG Plus. Bridgeport's Ryan Strome is among those selected to the AHL team.
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