Here's an update from Bridgeport Sound Tigers Beat Writer Michael Fornabaio of The Connecticut Post to discuss the latest about Matt Donovan's progress as we apparoach the American Hockey League All Star Break this upcoming weekend. Prior to the All Star Break, the Sound Tigers have 3 games left in the Pre-All Star Game portion of their schedule against the St. Johns Ice Caps tomorrow night, then it's a weekend road trip to Western New York as they will play the Adirondack Phantoms on Friday Night & the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday Night.
The big thing that is showing up of course is the scoring surge that he has had since New Years Day that's been a big part of the Sound Tigers 8 game winning streak that has brought the Sound Tigers from near the bottom of the AHL's Eastern Conference all the way up to 10th Place and are just 3 back of the Portland Pirates who currently sit in the 8th & Final Playoff Spot. In addition, the team is also tied with the Adirondack Phantoms as they look to go into the All-Star Game with some momentum on their side when they return to action after the All Star Game on February 3 against the Portland Pirates.
Here's a samplaing of what Michael Fornabaino had to say when he had a discussion with Bridgeport Sound Tigers Head Coach Brent Thompson. First it's about him getting used to the Pro Game.
"Matt Donovan's been taking strides, really, because he's attentive to his details," Bridgeport Coach Brent Thompson said. "His Practice habits are improving. His defensive coverage is improving."
Other then his Increasing Point Totals, one of the other big improving stats has been an improving +/- stats. His Plus/Minus has improved from a -8, however since Mid-December, was when his defensive coverage begin to click and improve and has gotten into the + Side of the +/- Ranking over a +2 overall right now.
Here's some comments from Donovan about his season and his improvements since the start of the season back in October and the 6 games he played to end the 2010-2011 season last season.
"It's just playing, trying to play harder to be harder to play against," Donovan said. "I'm trying to take the body more, use my size."
Fornabaio also mentioned that was still some work he had to do in certain parts of his game before he has a strong chance of making the NHL Full Time, but also mentioned that he's getting more consistent & more comfortable in a pro setting. However, his great offensive surge has also helped him climb up the Defensive Scoring Leaders List which has him just outside the top 10 right now (Currently 15th). '
They will be looking to Donovan to continue to be a strong defensive scoring presence for the Sound Tigers over the 2nd half of the season to help the team reach the playoffs. In a recent Q&A with Oklahoman Magazine, Donovan said mentioned this about his goals for his 1st season. Which includes getting a NHL Callup with the Islanders and looking to get the Islanders to the playoffs as well as this year being a strong fonduation for a long and strong Career. "I'm hoping this is the first year in a long professional career. I'm just working my hardest, just the way I've grown up. Hopefully I will be called up [to the Islanders] sooner or later this year. I wouldn't have signed if I didn't think I had a good chance playing in the NHL this year."
Well find out where he is as the 2nd half of the season begins to unfold. But he has really been coming up on the Islanders Depth Chart, even as recently as a month ago, Fornabaio thinks he's biggest competition will come from Calvin De Haan who's already has had a Call Up for a game and Dylan Reese who is beginning to emerge on the Islanders Staff and starting to get some time among the top 4 defensemen.
Brent Thompson also mentioned about he's looking to evolve during the 2nd half of the season and getting the team to the playoffs this season after missing out last year. The last time the Sound Tigers made the playoffs was in 2010 when they got elinmated by the eventual Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears in the 1st Round in 5 games
"He obivously has offensive gifts," Thompson said. "He's jumping in the play at right times. He's shooting the puck much better, which is a tribute to (assistant coaches) Eric Boguniecki and Matt Bertani working on a day-to-day basis. It's little details like that."
Coach Thompson also said that Donovan's defensive work has helped him generate chances for offense. Donovan has had some great games as his hard work is beginning to pay off as he has had 3 multi point games; including a three assists game against the Portland Pirates on 1/6.
"I can hardly wait to see, come playoff time, where he's evolved," Thompson Said.