For three years, Islanders fans have had the privilege of watching Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech play hockey together. Barry Trotz surprisingly made that the Islanders top pair in 2018-2019 and it’s worked phenomenally so far.
Isles fans have talked about how special Adam Pelech is for the last couple of years but finally, it seems like he’s just now getting the recognition that he deserves. He cashed in this offseason with an eight-year $46 million ($5.75 million) extension.
Ryan Pulock is going to be due a nice new contract at the end of the year and he will likely get a bump from his $5 million AAV as well. Today, The Score ranked the top-five defensive pairings in the league and guess who was number one?
That’s right, the Pelech and Pulock pair came in at the top of the ranking. Here was their reasoning behind the decision:
"Consider this: Without Pelech and Pulock on the ice at five-on-five, the Islanders’ GF% drops nearly 7% and their xGF% decreases by almost 12%. Trotz has a great system in place, but the Isles get outplayed when their top D pairing is on the bench.This is what separates Pelech-Pulock from Toews-Makar or Grzelcyk-McAvoy. The Avalanche and Bruins are still very strong possession teams without their top D-men on the ice, but the Islanders suffer without their best pairing. Pelech and Pulock also start just 33% of shifts in the offensive zone that aren’t on the fly, while most other pairings on this list are near 50% or higher.Pelech and Pulock keep the puck away from their net and drive play in the other direction. That’s exactly what you want out of a defense pairing."
How can you disagree with anything that they said in this reasoning? Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock are the main culprits for the Islanders analytics glow up in 2021. Sure, neither puts up staggering point numbers but they don’t need to.
Their job is to keep opponents from getting dangerous scoring chances. Last year, the duo had a 64.64 HDCF% and when looking at HDGF% they were at an impressive 71.05 according to Natural Stat Trick.
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It’s remarkable what these two do on the ice together, and it’s just a little bit sweeter that they beat out Devon Toews and Cale Makar in this ranking.