Article by: MICHAEL FORNABAIO
BRIDGEPORT — Kyle Burroughs has been out for a month, missing the last part of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ playoff run. Still, he realizes one big thing.
“It could’ve been a lot worse,” Burroughs said after Thursday’s practice. “Things could have come to an abrupt halt.”
Burroughs is expected to play Friday for the first time since March 6, when an awkward collision with a Wolf Pack player at the XL Center in Hartford left him unable to get up or, it appeared, put pressure on his right leg.
Especially with a Bridgeport team that lost two other players for at least the regular season with right-leg injuries, it was hard not to imagine a worst-case-scenario from the start for Burroughs, but he was walking on his own within days.
“It was just kind of fluky,” Burroughs said. “Obviously, a guy falls on your leg, it’s a fluky situation. It’s an injury I haven’t had before. (Burroughs wouldn’t specify.) It’s something I don’t want to have happen again.”
The injury interrupted what had become a solid rookie year. After being sent to the ECHL for the first half of the year, Burroughs returned as a player who thrived in all situations for the Sound Tigers.
“He got to the point where he established himself as a solid American League defenseman,” said Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson, praising Burroughs’ shot-blocking on the penalty kill, his hockey sense and his improvement in the pace of his game.
“He took steps in his development to be a regular.”
Burroughs should be back in the lineup Friday night, when the Sound Tigers visit Hershey with six games remaining in the regular season.
Thompson expects the same kind of player that Burroughs was a month ago.
“He’s got six games left in the regular season, an opportunity to get game time,” Thompson said, “to get in game shape for the next step in his development, which is, hopefully, the playoffs.”
Along with Burroughs’ return, Friday should be the Bridgeport debut for Marc-Andre Cliche, acquired from Colorado at the Feb. 29 NHL trade deadline but out injured ever since.
Bridgeport’s magic number is seven points, and if everything went right for them, the Sound Tigers could clinch their first playoff spot in four years as early as Saturday.
“It’s an exciting time around us right now,” Burroughs said. “Everybody’s working toward the playoffs and securing that playoff spot. We’ve got one goal on our minds.”
email@example.com; http://twitter.com/fornabaioctp; http://blog.ctnews.com/fornabaio