The Islanders don’t play again until Friday, but their 1-3-0 start and a potential injury situation have prompted a change.
Ryan Pulock, the rookie defenseman with the booming slap shot, was recalled on an emergency basis from Bridgeport on Wednesday. Team sources indicated that the emergency designation, which is a short-term recall based on need, is due to an injury to one of the Isles’ regular defensemen that could impact the lineup when the Islanders host the Coyotes on Friday.
Pulock seemed ready to grab one of the six defense spots in training camp, but the Isles’ signing of veteran Dennis Seidenberg, coupled with a desire to keep three goaltenders as well as 19-year-old rookie forwards Anthony Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal meant Pulock, who does not need waivers, was expendable at the start of the season last week.
But now the Isles have lost three of their first four, including a 3-2 loss to the Sharks at Barclays Center on Tuesday that featured a difficult outing from the top pair of Nick Leddy and Travis Hamonic. Those two have been on the ice for six of the nine even-strength goals the Islanders have allowed this season and have the lowest Corsi-for percentage (the percentage of shots attempted by the Islanders while those players are on the ice) of any defense pair so far.
Jack Capuano was particularly upset with the coverage from Leddy and Hamonic on Joe Pavelski’s game-winning goal with 2:11 left in the third period of a tie game on Tuesday. “We had three forwards across the top, seemed like we were in good position,” he said. Pavelski popped out into the high slot and had room to redirect Joe Thornton’s pass with Leddy not tight enough to the San Jose captain.
Defensive-zone coverage has not been one of the Islanders’ main concerns in this slow start. They’ve allowed 24 or fewer shots at even strength in all four games and, outside of a few sloppy moments in the opener against the Rangers, they haven’t been beaten off the rush.
But offense is another story. The Islanders generated very little against the Sharks on Tuesday and they have only nine total goals in four games, just one from their defensemen — that was Leddy’s goal on opening night.
So perhaps Pulock, who has no goals and one assist in two games with Bridgeport, can spark the Isles, especially on the power play, where the big club is 1-for-11 so far this season.