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New York Islanders

Islanders Pelech Still Not Skating, Concerns Rising on Injury Front



New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech (3) during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Corey Sipkin).

NEW YORK, NY– After getting through the first month and a half unscathed, the New York Islanders have been ransacked with injuries as of late.

The New York Islanders have four players on the shelf, like the Elf, with two on Injured Reserve. General manager Lou Lamoriello and head coach Lane Lambert provided little to no information on their statuses.

The most concerning of the injured parties is defenseman Adam Pelech, who has been out of the New York Islanders lineup since Dec. 6 in a 7-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Presumed a head injury after being struck while off balance by Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, Pelech was day-to-day with an upper-body injury before the Islanders placed the 28-year-old on IR (retroactive to Dec. 6).

Pelech will have missed his seventh straight game when the puck drops Thursday night.

Robin Salo has filled in alongside Ryan Pulock in Pelech’s absence, but as we all know, there’s no replacing one of the best defensemen the NHL has to offer.

Without Pelech in the lineup, the Islanders have been outscored 19-18 and have posted a 2-2-3 record, as they certainly have tread water. He brings stability to the backend and has played a crucial part in the transition game, which in part, creates offense.

On Thursday morning, 17 days after the head injury, Lambert said Pelech still was not skating, which is a significant concern.

All head injuries are different, but he did not know where he was following the hit.

Kyle Palmieri, who suffered an upper-body injury against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 21, missed 10 games before he returned to the lineup against the Arizona Coyotes in a 5-4 loss last weekend.

But after taking a high hit from Coyotes forward Nick Ritchie late in the third period, Palmieri was forced into concussion protocol. He did return to the bench before the end of the game and seemed fine following the loss, but he has now missed the last three games and will miss his fourth Thursday night.

Lambert told us back on Wednesday that Palmieri was skating on his own, which is a positive sign that he could be back sooner than later. But what does sooner mean?

Lamoriello shared on Monday in Colorado that he doe not think any of the Islanders’ injuries will be long-term, but think is the key word there.

In Palmieri’s absence, 21-year-old Simon Holmstrom has played in his spot on a line with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Zach Parise. Holmstrom has played phenomenal defensively and scored his first NHL goal in the 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights back on Dec. 17.

If Holmstrom can add more of a scoring touch as we advance, he may steal a starting gig from someone in the lineup when this team finally gets healthy.

Cal Clutterbuck has been in and out of the lineup this season and will have missed five of the last seven games after Thursday’s contest. He’s on IR retroactive to Dec. 16 and is unavailable until the Islanders face the Pittsburgh Penguins next Tuesday, Dec. 27–if he is ready to return.

What’s more concerning about Clutterbuck’s absence is that he has dealt with three different injuries this season, and at 35, given the grueling style he plays, there’s certainly concern about his future. Not only that but his 2021-22 season ended in March as he opted for season-ending shoulder surgery.

Clutterbuck has one year left on his contract.

In Clutterbuck’s absence, 27-year-old Hudson Fasching has thrived in his role. He has two goals in six games for New York, including a beautiful power move, the game-winner against Vegas. He has seemingly won every board battle and has his foot, or skate rather, on the gas each time he touches the ice.

The injury to netminder Semyon Varlamov, which occurred with around 6:30 left on the third-period clock in Vegas, is concerning given how well he had been playing. There is no answer as to what is ailing Varlamov, but Lamoriello said he is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Lambert shared Thursday morning that Varlamov has not skated yet since the injury.

Fortunately for the Islanders, they have one of the best in the NHL as his counterpart, Ilya Sorokin. Despite losing personal six-straight games, Sorokin was phenomenal his last time out against the Colorado Avalanche as he stopped 46 of 46 through regulation and overtime before stopping one of two shootout attempts.

In Varlamov’s absence, Cory Schneider is up with the Islanders and looks as good as he has since suffering a career-changing injury a few seasons ago. The 36-year-old is 10-3-2, with a .921 SV% and a 2.51 GAA in 15 games for the Bridgeport Islanders this season.


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