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Ryan Pulock’s return provides lift to Islanders

Ryan Pulock Islanders
Ryan Pulock
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Pulock is finally back in the picture for the Islanders after missing 25 games with a lower-body injury that was suffered on Nov. 15. 

What was originally given a 4-to-6 week timetable for a return extended over 10 weeks — the first-pairing defenseman’s absence creating a sizable void within the team’s ranks.

The 27-year-old not only will restore the team’s top defensive pairing as he’ll slot in alongside All-Star Adam Pelech, but Pulock also provides another quarterbacking option on the power play. And the Islanders need as much offensive punch as possible.

“We can monitor that,” head coach Barry Trotz said when discussing Pulocks’ role upon his return. “We’ll see him play 5-on-5 and a little bit of power play. We’ll probably limit his minutes to give him a chance to catch up. “

Pulock posted 29 goals — 11 on the power play — and 75 assists across three seasons from 2017-2020 before an anomaly of a 2021 campaign saw him find the back of the net just twice along with 15 assists in 56 games.

Through his first 12 games this year, he posted just two assists, but his importance to the Islanders’ efforts moving forward can’t be overstated.

“He’s such a big piece of our team,” veteran forward Matt Martin said Tuesday. “He’s been a dynamic defenseman for us for the last number of years so if he’s back in the lineup, that’s going to give us a huge boost. He’s a rock back there for us on both sides of the puck.”

Pulock’s return ensures that the Islanders’ defense is back at full strength — featuring all six opening-night starters — for the first time since the early portions of the season. With the continued development of Noah Dobson, Pulock’s two-way game provides another dimension for an Islanders team that ranks 30th of 32 NHL teams with 2.38 goals per game.

“He will help us,” Trotz said. “He’s a veteran guy who’s important to our lineup. He’s missed probably 25 games or so, which is significant for us. He’s a big piece for us, both offensively and defensively.”

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