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Kyle MacLean Passes First Test In NHL With Islanders



AP Photo/Matt Marton

East Meadow, NY– Kyle MacLean was well prepared when he got called up to the New York Islanders.

Not because his father, John, is an assistant coach on the Islander staff but because they needed him to fill a role he’s played throughout his career in the minors.

“It’s been a great experience,” MacLean said. “Not too many surprises. The games are obviously faster, and that’s a bit of an adjustment, but otherwise, in the locker room and the way things are run off the ice, it’s pretty similar. Nothing too crazy.”

MacLean has yet to register a point through five NHL games, but that’s not what the Islanders need from him.

With center Casey Cizikas out of the lineup due to a lower-body injury, MacLean was brought up from AHL Bridgeport to play tough shifts on the Islanders’ famed fourth line with Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck.

“He skates really well,” Clutterbuck said. “He’s got a good mind for the game and plays the way that Martin and I like. His game is along the lines of Casey’s. He goes hard down the middle and is very tenacious on the puck. That’s allowed him to get an opportunity like this and help us.”

Still, slotting in on a line that was first put together a decade ago can make one look out of place. Nevertheless, the two veterans made the 24-year-old rookie feel right at home.

“Those guys help a lot with [explaining] how we need to play,” MacLean said. “They’ve been great for me. I think that our role is pretty clear as to how we need to play. I’m just trying to fill in the best that I can. I’ve been fortunate to play with those two guys.”

MacLean’s first run in the NHL wasn’t exactly typical.

On Jan. 19, MacLean made his debut against the Chicago Blackhawks under then-head coach Lane Lambert. Forty-eight hours later, he was playing for the newly hired Patrick Roy.

“It’s obviously not a usual experience that happens very often,” MacLean said. “The good thing is I think everybody is getting adjusted to the new system as well. It was kind of a fresh slate for all the guys right when Patrick came in. I was in the same boat as they were all in, trying to figure out the new system and get playing under the new coach.”

On Monday, the Islanders sent MacLean back down to the AHL, presumably to continue playing in Bridgeport during the NHL’s All-Star break.

It’s yet to be seen whether or not MacLean will be back up with the Islanders when they return to action on Feb. 5. But if his first run with them is any indication, MacLean will be back in the NHL at some point, one way or another.

“He knows what type of NHL player he’s going to be and done really well to get good at that part of the game,” Clutterbuck said. “I think he’s going to have a good career ahead of him if he continues to grow.”




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