Adam Pelech had some pregame jitters ahead of Wednesday’s 2-1 exhibition win over the New York Rangers.
Considering Pelech hadn’t played in a game since Dec. 31 the nerves made sense. Yet, when he stepped on the ice the Islanders defenseman looked like he had been playing for the past six months.
Pelech played in 15:22 on Wednesday, which included 1:22 on the penalty kill.
“Once you’re out there, especially with the way our team players, everyone is so predictable. It made the game really easy for me,” Pelech said on Thursday. “I’m glad with how it went and I’m just looking to build on that.”
Surprisingly, it wasn’t the pace of the game that was the toughest aspect for Pelech to adjust to. Rather, it was the lack of fans in the arena. Wednesday was the Islanders first and only exhibition game before the Qualifying Round.
It was also their first and only chance to get used to the empty arena they’ll be playing in through the foreseeable future.
“I think after the first shift or so I felt pretty comfortable out there, even given the time off,” Pelech said. “It was definitely a strange situation out there on the ice (with no fans). It’s something we’ll have to continue to adjust to and continue to learn how to play with as playoffs go on.”
“I think the game was really important yesterday, just to get a feel for everything. Once the puck is dropped on Saturday, we’re just going to try and play our game.”
🎥 Pelech and Brassard set their sights on the qualifying round. pic.twitter.com/f1Ri59z0qc
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) July 30, 2020
Brassard Scouts the Florida Panthers
The 2018-19 season was a bit of a journey for Derick Brassard. He started the year off with the Pittsburgh Penguins and then was traded to the Florida Panthers on Feb. 1, 2019.
It was 10 days later that he was dealt again, this time to the Colorado Avalanche.
While his time was shortlived in Sunrise, Brassard is technically facing his former team when the puck drops on Saturday for Game 1 against the Florida Panthers. So he has some knowledge of what to expect from the Panthers, specifically Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov.
“They’re high-end guys. Obviously a lot of skill,” Brassard said about the two. “Barkov that can playing any situation and Huberdeau’s coming out party came in the last couple of years. A 100 point season, really high-end skilled guy and really good hockey sense. It’s the same thing for Ekblad.”
“We know we have a tough task as a team here. They have a lot of good players and I felt like they added some really key guys in the summer.”
Florida Has No Preference for Who the Islanders Start in Net
The Islanders still have yet to announce who will start in goal for Game 1 on Saturday. Semyon Varlamov appeared in 40 minutes of their exhibition game on Wednesday, while Thomas Greiss played in the final 20 minutes.
If the Panthers had a preference who they’d like to see on Saturday, they weren’t tipping their hand when they faced the media Thursday Afternoon.
“They’re both good goalies, so we don’t really think about that,” Aleksander Barkov said. “We just think about ourselves. How we’re going to play. How we’re going to match their game and how we want to play against them. It’s all about us. … It doesn’t matter who we play against.”
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