Already reeling from a four-game losing streak where they bled goals against to end their 13-game road stretch, the New York Islanders face another blow as they prepare to open UBS Arena on Saturday: Ryan Pulock is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks with a lower-body injury.
The estimate likely means he suffered a fracture from a shot block during Monday’s loss in Tampa, so we’ll guess the injury is to a bone in his ankle or foot. He ultimately left that game and was scratched for Tuesday’s loss vs. the Panthers, with the dreaded “will be evaluated back home” added afterward.
This likely creates continued opportunity for Sebastian Aho, who appeared in his first two games of the season in Florida. But it’s a big blow to the Islanders blueline, which has been plodding at far from its best.
Pulock’s vaunted pairing with Adam Pelech was broken up early in the season as the other pairs were a bit of a mess. Zdeno Chara’s footspeed and aging reaction time, Noah Dobson’s inconsistency, and the general lack of chemistry among the pairs since the summer trade of Nick Leddy have all contributed to that.
So it’s a tough situation for Aho to jump into. And it’s unclear what it would take for the Isles to turn to Bridgeport. Without Pulock, the Isles have just two right-shooting defensemen (Dobson and Mayfield), and Barry Trotz tends to prefer having three L-R pairs. Their most promising Bridgeport prospects, Robin Salo and Samuel Bolduc, are lefties, as is forgotten vet Thomas Hickey — though Salo is experienced on the right side.
At 5-6-2, the Isles sit last in the powerful Metro Division with just 12 points. Despite that start and with a little more cap space than expected, most observers did not expect them to make any big moves this early.
But maybe this injury and their record has them reconsidering?