When it was revealed just before puck drop that the New York Islanders would be without two key players, alarm bells went up over the health of Ryan Pulock. He was ruled out with a lower-body injury, with the team explaining that he would be re-evaluated upon their return to New York. That evaluation appears to have occurred, as the team announced that Pulock is out for four to six weeks with a lower-body injury.
Pulock played just 16:45 on Monday but exited early after blocking a shot while shorthanded. It’s a huge blow for an Islanders team already reeling, embarrassed 6-1 last night by the Florida Panthers without him in the lineup. The normally stingy defensive unit has now allowed 19 goals over their last four games, losing all of them. Taking one of the team’s most important defensive players out of the lineup isn’t going to help those own-end issues, meaning the group will have to find another way to fill those minutes effectively.
If he returns four weeks from today, Pulock would still miss a total of 14 games. Six weeks would take him over the Christmas break, and take his total absences closer to 20.
The team does have some depth in the minor leagues, but one of the players that could have been an option–Bode Wilde–was loaned overseas when he declined the COVID-19 vaccination. Paul Ladue, one of the few other right-shot options, has just two NHL games under his belt since the 2018-19 season. Whoever they do recall likely won’t have to play right away, but the Islanders’ defensive depth is going to be tested with Pulock out for a while.