Defenseman Adam Pelech still adjusting to expanded role under Barry Trotz
Barry Trotz had been pleased with Adam Pelech’s progress, enough to give the defenseman an expanded role. The Islanders coach didn’t get the desired results.
Pelech struggled through Saturday night’s 4-2 loss to the Panthers at BB&T Center, on the ice for Florida’s two even-strength goals, in the penalty box for the winner and, after being inserted onto the second power-play unit, part of the Islanders’ 0-for-4 effort which has left them 1-for-19 on the man advantage over the past five games.
Trotz is not prone to knee-jerk reactions and the Islanders did not practice on Sunday. So, it remains to be seen whether Pelech will lose any playing time Tuesday night against the Canucks at Barclays Center as a result.
“I think Pelly is playing with a lot more confidence, he has a role he feels more comfortable with,” Trotz said before Saturday’s game.
Pelech, 24, in his third season with the Islanders, was on the top pair with Ryan Pulock for the first four games before being a healthy scratch for a 4-1 loss at Anaheim on Oct. 17. Since then, he and Johnny Boychuk have been the team’s third pair.
Pelech has a goal and four assists in 15 games for the Islanders (8-6-2), who have lost three straight.
“Sometimes, you move them up to see if they feel comfortable in those roles and see if they can adjust,” Trotz said. “Maybe it was too much early, but you don’t know until you do it. Now, he’s settling in.”
Pelech’s struggles against the Panthers started when Denis Malgin beat him to the crease to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead at 6:18 of the first period. He was on the ice when Mike Hoffman banked in a shot off Pulock’s skate to tie the game at 2 with 45.1 seconds left in the second period.
And Pelech was called for interference against Nick Bjugstad at 4:34 of the third period – Aleksander Barkov capitalized for a 3-2 lead – as he tried to recover after losing the puck at the Panthers’ blue line.
Pelech finished with one shot and one blocked shot in 19:40 of ice time – his most since the season’s third game – including 2:21 on the power play.
“It gives you more confidence playing with the puck,” Pelech said of being on the power play. “It’s a big responsibility because the power play has to come through.”
Notes & quotes: Forward Chris Bourque, 32, in his first season in the Islanders’ organization, became the 24th player in AHL history to reach 700 career points when he had a goal and an assist in Bridgeport’s 5-4 overtime win over Providence on Saturday.