Coming off a 2-1 win against Springfield on Wednesday, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins held an optional practice at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Thursday as they prepare to host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at 7:05 p.m. today.
The Penguins have won five of their last six contests and hope to redeem a 3-2 loss to Bridgeport earlier this season.
A big factor behind any success will be goaltending and defense, which has steadily improved since the start of the season. After Wednesday's 2-1 win, the Penguins rank fourth in the AHL in goals against.
It starts with excellent goaltender and Brad (Thiessen) and Jeff (Zatkoff) have played very well, said head coach John Hynes. We've shored up some things defensively as well. Earlier in the year it was a little bit up and down, and now there's more of a team commitment to defense.
The Penguins will get a bit of a break tonight as they face a Bridgeport lineup missing winger Colin McDonald, who was suspended for two games resulting from a boarding incident on Nov. 11. The former Penguin was tied for fourth in Bridgeport team scoring with six points.
Hynes said his team's approach will still be the same even though McDonald will not play.
Colin is a big part of their team, but they have four lines that can go and multiple guys that are threats, he said. We won't prepare any differently with Colin not in the lineup. We'll still have to be ready to face one of the better teams in the league.
NOTES: Most of the players who played in Wednesday's game didn't practice on Thursday. Exceptions included Brian Dumoulin, Tom Kuhnhackl and Dominik Uher. Others on the ice were Brian Strait, Joey Mormina, Alex Grant, Steve MaIntyre, Brian Gibbons and Brad Thiessen.
On the injury front, Zach Sill (upper body) and Jayson Megna (lower body) also practiced. Sill stickhandled and shot pucks, but Hynes said he is still considered week-to-week. Megna is day-to-day, according to Hynes.