New York Islanders: Ryan Pulock to Make Season Debut at MSG
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20: Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers and Ryan Pulock #6 of the New York Islanders battle for the puck during the first period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Barclays Center on April 20, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

With the New York Islanders powerplay at a staggering 0/20, fans have been calling for the insertion of Ryan Pulock, and Thursday night is his chance.

Ryan Pulock is five-for-five on the season … in games not played.

It’s a mystery to everyone outside of the New York Islanders organization, and the anomaly isn’t new.

Ryan Pulock continues to be left off the NHL roster.

It’s no secret that the Islanders’ powerplay has been underwhelming, to say the least. It sits at 0/20 and to date is one of two NHL powerplays — the other being Anaheim’s — that has yet to score a goal.

Since taking the head coach position, Doug Weight, the Islanders’ old powerplay coach, has passed the baton to Scott Gomez. Unfortunately, Gomez’s powerplay is just as snake-bitten as Weight’s, which finished second-to-last in the 2016-17 season.

Finally, that argument may be able to be put to bed tonight, when Pulock makes his season debut at Madison Square Garden.

For obvious reasons, this needs to change, and Pulock could be a simple fix in what has turned into a looming issue.

While it may not be the magical fix fans are hoping it can be, there’s been a large enough sample size through six games to warrant some kind of change. Why not swap out a struggling defender and insert Pulock in his place?

Steady Defenders

Doug Weight has emphasized his confidence in the current defensive lineup, which hasn’t changed since tweaking it after the Islanders’ Season Opener. To his credit, the pairing of Scott Mayfield and Thomas Hickey has been lights out in the small sample that they’ve played so far.

Scott Mayfield chimed in, according to Arthur Staple of Newsday:

“I understand what our team dynamic is with the eight D, I know we all can play and it’s very easy to interchange guys, different partners, different setups,” Mayfield said. “My goal right now is to stay in the lineup. That’s what I’m doing and while I’m in I want to do everything I can to help the team win. That’s offensively, defensively, good first passes, physical stuff, all that. I’m happy with how I’m playing. I’m happy with how the team’s playing too.”

The Case for Pulock

The pairing of Calvin de Haan and Adam Pelech has been a notable issue early on, and, prior to the Islanders’ game against the Kings, was on the ice for six of the last nine even-strength goals against.

Bumping Pelech in favor of Pulock could serve as a boost for both players. Allowing Pelech to take time to gather himself while simultaneously giving Pulock his shot could have a positive impact on the young defense.

The likely scenario that fans see tonight is that Pulock pairs up on the bottom-six, but will see every minute of possible powerplay time.

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. ET on MSG and MSG+.

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