When the puck dropped on Game 2 Wednesday night, it had been 183 days since Andrew Ladd last played in an NHL game. And it marked the first time Ladd appeared in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The veteran NHLer played 17 shifts and saw 11:50 of ice time in the New York Islanders Game 2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ladd was also given 3:50 of time on the power play.
“It was nice to get a game,” Ladd said. “I think the first period things were moving pretty quick and as the game went along it kind of slows down and you can start making some plays. Just get a little more comfortable. It was fun to be back out there with the group and trying to contribute.”
Ladd has not played much for the Islanders this year, even during the regular season. He appeared in four games with the Islanders, three of which came in the final weeks of the season before COVID-19 halted play.
The 34-year-old also appeared in two games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Ladd has been part of a group of extras up with the Islanders who have been biding their time waiting for a shot to get in the lineup. Michael Dal Colle and Ross Johnston have also been among that group and have cycled in and out of the Islanders’ lineup.
“I think mentally it can be a grind, especially when you’re not playing,” Ladd said. “I think as a group, the guys not playing, we’ve tried to bring energy to the skates that we’ve had. Use that to stay mentally sharp and just sometimes resetting. everyday. There’s been a few days where there’s been some frustration so you try to come back the next day with the right mindset and go from there.”
Ladd was on the ice in the final 30 seconds of Game 2, when the Islanders allowed the game-winning goal to Nikita Kucherov with 7.8 seconds left. Trotz told reporters after the game that his decision to play Ladd had to do with his experience and resiliency this season.
“He’s had some major injuries. He’s played very well for a long time,” Trotz said on Wednesday. “It’s hard enough in the bubble mentally to stay focused and find all the things that you need mentally and emotionally. And when you’re not in the game it’s got to be a lot tougher. I give Andrew and our extra guys who’ve worked and pushed each other.
“I knew he was ready. The coaches said he was ready. … I just felt it was his time.”
Ladd also brought another invaluable resource to the Islanders in playoff experience. Ladd won two Stanley Cups over his career — one in Carolina and one in Chicago — and has 65 playoff games under his belt.
So he’s been in the position before that the Islanders currently find themselves in.
“I think you turn the page,” Ladd said. “Look at some things you can improve on and look at some things that we did really well and go from there.”
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