SOUND TIGERS Toews could be back to face Providence

December 1, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — Two things were clear Wednesday night at Springfield. The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have depth on defense. And they still missed Devon Toews.

“He’s a solid defenseman,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said. “He creates off the back end. He can skate. He can defend. Anytime you get those players in the lineup, it’s a huge asset.”

Toews sat out with an undisclosed upper-body injury. He lost the second half of last season to shoulder surgery, but he hadn’t lost a game otherwise in two-plus seasons.

He could return Saturday night at Webster Bank Arena against Providence or Sunday in another visit to Springfield.

“(I feel) good. Good enough,” Toews said. He said they’ll decide Saturday whether he’ll play that night.

“But we have depth,” Thompson said. “At the end of the day, we have eight solid defnsemen who can play. If he needs another day, he needs another day.”

Chris Casto stepped in Wednesday, his first game since Nov. 3. Yannick Rathgeb has been in and out as well.

But Toews, probably a heartbeat away from his NHL debut, has been Bridgeport’s No. 1 defenseman, playing more minutes than anyone on the team, manning the blue line on one power-play unit. He’s also getting more time on the penalty kill.

“It’s just another asset to have, being able to PK,” Toews said. “It’s not necessarily the most fun thing to do in the world, but stopping them from scoring is also fun and helps your team win. Any way I can help out, and our PK, obviously, is a big point for us. We’re taking too many penalties, something we’re working on, too.”

Thompson has stressed Toews’ getting stronger, which plays into his work on the penalty kill as well.

“(In) penalty-killing, shot lanes, battles, clears,” Thompson said. “He has the feet to kill, to get the clears, and the strength and skill to get those 200-foot clears.”

Even last year, Toews was playing a steady defense and probably would’ve been called up to the New York Islanders after Christmas were he not injured.

He’s still working on his game.

“I think decision-making has come a long way,” Toews said.

“I feel I’m moving my feet. I can tell pretty quick if I’m having a good day or if it’s just one of those days where either the ice isnt opened up, things aren’t working our way, or if I’m not moving my feet. I’m just trying to stay consistent every day.”

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