In the absence of two of their best defensemen, the New York Islanders have begun to show signs of improvement on the blue line. After a stretch of cringe-worthy defensive play, the Isles patchwork defensive corps is coming together.
The New York Islanders began this season with one of the best top defensive pairings in the NHL. Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy are both in the primes of their careers, albeit on opposite ends of that spectrum. Calvin de Haan was finally coming into his own as a legitimate top-four blueliner in his own right. Things were looking good for the Islanders on the defensive side of things.
Right when things were finally going well, injuries hit the New York Islanders like a ton of bricks. In the span of a month, the Isles lost Calvin de Haan for the season and Boychuk to two separate IR stints. Piecing together defensive pairings when two-thirds of the unit are rookies is a very tough situation for any team. Keeping the playoff-contending ship afloat during that kind of storm is the real challenge.
The emergence of Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield as viable options in the New York Islanders top two pairings have helped considerably. Though it took a little longer than we all had hoped, the Isles defense is finally starting to show real signs of improvement.