Defenseman Adam Pelech has missed the last 18 games for the New York Islanders with an upper-body injury and has proven once again that he is the glue that keeps this team together.
With Adam Pelech in the lineup this season, the Islanders have averaged 3.07 goals per game, allowing just 2.54 with a record of 16-11-0.
In those 27 games, Pelech had three goals and eight assists in 20:49 minutes per game, with 41 blocks and 39 hits.
But without him, the Islanders have scored 2.94 goals per game, allowing the same with a record of 7-7-4.
“He eats up a lot of minutes. He plays in important situations, and he plays against other teams top players,” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “So, we’ve missed him a lot.”
“I think our guys have done a great job. We talked about that when he first got hurt, that guys we’re going to have to step up and do the job, and I think guys have done a good job of it,” Lambert said.
The Islanders have tread water in his absence as no one could fill the role or eat the minutes that Pelech does on a nightly basis.
This is not the first time the Islanders have had to tread water in Pelech’s absence.
On Jan. 2, 2020, Pelech suffered a torn Achilles during pregame warmups ahead of their contest against the New Jersey Devils. He was expected to miss the remainder of the regular season and likely the playoffs, but COVID-19’s interruption allowed Pelech to return that summer as the Islanders went on a run to the semi-finals.
His return was critical.
Before Pelech’s Achilles injury, the Islanders were teetering towards the top of the Metropolitan Division standings with a record of 25-10-3. They were averaging 3.0 goals per game, only allowing 2.63 as the team flourished in Barry Trotz‘s second season–especially Pelech.
But in his absence, the Islanders struggled on both ends of the ice, scoring just 2.63 goals per game while allowing 3.13.
They went 10-13-17 before the COVID-19 pause, finishing with a record of 35-23-10–for sixth in the Metropolitan division–before getting into the playoffs on a pandemic technicality.
The Islanders currently find themselves out of a playoff spot, tied with the second wild-card seed Pittsburgh Penguins with 50 points, but lose the games played tiebreaker, with Pittsburgh having two games in hand.
After a lousy road trip (1-3-0), the Islanders have gone 1-1-2 through the first four games of their homestand with the opportunity Wednesday night against the Boston Bruins to go .500, point-wise, before a battle Thursday night with the Sabres in Buffalo.
There’s no timetable for when Pelech will return to the lineup, but he seems to be getting closer and close each day, and if the Islanders are going to string together some wins and make something of this season, he is going to be at the forefront.
As, after all, Adam Pelech is the glue that keeps the New York Islanders together.