Adam Pelech #3 of the Islanders is helped off the ice...

Adam Pelech #3 of the Islanders is helped off the ice by teammate Josh Bailey #12 during an injury in the third period against the St. Louis Blues at UBS Arena on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Islanders are not yet acknowledging the seemingly obvious that Adam Pelech is dealing with a head injury. But the top-pair defenseman did not participate in Thursday’s practice at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow and, at the very least, is not expected to play against the Devils on Friday night at Prudential Center.

“Upper body, day-to-day,” coach Lane Lambert said.

Fellow lefthander Robin Salo skated instead with Ryan Pulock at practice and is Lambert’s lone option to replace Pelech for the Islanders (16-11-0) barring a callup from their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport or a trade.

“I’m just trying to be ready,” said Salo, who had two goals in the Islanders’ first four games but has been an NHL healthy scratch since while shuttling to Bridgeport for four games. “I’ve tried to be ready for a long time. We’ll wait and see what happens, but I’ll be ready if I get my chance.”

Pelech slammed his head on the backboards at 4:05 of the third period in Tuesday’s 7-4 loss to the visiting Blues after being checked by defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who received a boarding minor. Pelech immediately grabbed his head then looked dazed and wobbly as he slowly regained his footing and exited for the Islanders’ dressing room.

Bortuzzo did not face supplemental discipline from the NHL and Lambert did not take issue with his hit.

“I think it happened pretty fast,” Lambert said. “[Pelech] was a little bit off balance. From that standpoint, that’s really all that happened.”

The Metropolitan Division-leading Devils (21-4-1) dominated the Islanders with their speed in a 4-1 win at UBS Arena on Oct. 20 as they held a 41-17 shot advantage. The Islanders may find it even harder to slow the Devils without arguably their top defensive defenseman.

The Islanders have dealt with a long-term injury to Pelech previously.

Pelech ruptured his Achilles tendon on Jan. 2, 2020 while preparing for a game against the Devils and the injury was expected to be season-ending. However, the COVID-19 pandemic intervened and Pelech was able to return when play resumed in August with playoff bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton.

The Islanders were 10-13-7 in Pelech’s absence, eventually acquiring defenseman Andy Greene from the Devils, but reached the NHL semifinals when he returned to the lineup.

“We just take whatever happens the same way as we always do with injuries,” defenseman Noah Dobson said. “It’s just next man up. We’re confident in the group we have. Everyone is comfortable playing with one another. He’s an important piece back so it’s just going to take a little more from everyone.”

Notes & quotes: RW Cal Clutterbuck (upper body), who has missed three games, retook his usual spot on Casey Cizikas’ line with Matt Martin during practice. Lambert said a decision on whether Clutterbuck plays against the Devils will be made Friday … Goalie Ilya Sorokin is expected to start … RW Kyle Palmieri (injured reserve/upper body) continues to skate on his own and will almost certainly miss his eighth game.

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