Islanders’ Adam Pelech looking to get back into groove

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS


CHICAGO — It has now been five games since Adam Pelech returned to the Islanders’ lineup from a presumed wrist injury, and he knows that the Islanders have yet to see the best of him.

“I’m definitely not necessarily happy with the way I’ve been playing the past few games,” Pelech told The Post after Thursday’s practice. “I think it’s coming back. I’m feeling better every night. So I just gotta keep putting my head down and working. It’ll come back and I’ll get back to where I want to be very soon.”

Yet to top 20 minutes in a game since coming back 10 days ago, Pelech has been playing on the second pair, usually with fellow injury returnee Scott Mayfield. It has been evident that both players are not quite themselves as yet.

According to Natural Stat Trick, the Pelech-Mayfield pair has been outshot 33-13 while being on the ice for four goals against over the five games since Pelech’s return.

“Honestly I think the hardest part [of returning to the lineup] is everyone else spent the last two months playing every day and getting better. And when you’re hurt, you don’t,” Pelech said. “There’s always just a period of time where you need to catch up. But it’s been five games now.


Adam Pelech is on his fifth game back after returning from injury.
Adam Pelech is on his fifth game back after returning from injury. Getty Images

“I think I’m playing better but I’m still not quite where I want to be. Now’s the time to get back to being myself.”

The Islanders need that to happen sooner rather than later. They have not had a healthy, full-strength defense for most of the season and it has reflected in the numbers, which show them to be one of the worst defensive teams in the league.

That is foreign for a club that has for so long prided itself on being physical and hard to play against. So too is Pelech, one of the rocks of that identity, struggling.


Adam Pelech battles for the puck with Kirill Kaprizov (No. 97) and Joel Eriksson during the Islanders' loss to the Wild.
Adam Pelech battles for the puck with Kirill Kaprizov (No. 97) and Joel Eriksson during the Islanders’ loss to the Wild. NHLI via Getty Images

“He’s gotta continue to improve on his timing,” coach Lane Lambert said. “I think he’s getting better as we go, there’s no question about it. I think there’s another level for him to be at that we need him to be at.”


Pierre Engvall (upper body) did not participate in Thursday’s practice. Lambert said he does not know when Engvall will resume skating, but continued to call him day-to-day.


Kyle MacLean is expected to skate between Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck during his NHL debut on Friday against the Blackhawks. Julien Gauthier practiced on the third line with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Simon Holmstrom while Mat Barzal was back on the top line with Anders Lee and Bo Horvat.

The second line of Hudson Fasching, Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri stayed the same.



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