It's been about a week and a half since the NY Islanders claimed Mike Reilly off of waivers from the Florida Panthers, as the 30-year-old defenseman is finding himself acclimating more and more every day on Long Island. Reilly only played 12 games across the last two seasons due to injury and appears to be getting more comfortable back on the ice as he's familiarizing himself with his new teammates.
With Sebastian Aho and Adam Pelech out due to injury, Reilly has been thrown into the fire, as he's beginning to contribute more each night. After a turnover led to a goal the other way in his first game wasn't the start he may have hoped for, Reilly has become a much-needed second offensive threat aside from Noah Dobson.
Reilly is in no way a world beater, but on a blue line where most of its members think with a more defensive mindset, Reilly has no issue jumping into play and joining the rush. On Tuesday night, he registered his first two points with the Isles, scoring on a short-handed slap shot and adding an assist on Ryan Pulock's power play goal. Reilly credited his teammates as a big part of his strong performance.
"If you're ever on the power play and you have fast kind of forwards, it puts you [opponents] on your heels maybe just a little bit," said Reilly. "These guys can blow the zone, but these guys don't cheat the game. These chances for these guys are coming naturally, just playing how it's supposed to be. As I said, lots of speed that's creating these chances."
One thing in particular Reilly has brought to the blue line is the number of shots coming from the point. In just four games, Reilly has ten shots on goal, compared to Aho's 18 through 19 games and Bolduc's 12 through 14 games. When the defensive corps are at 100%, these three will likely compete for the final defensive position on the left side, and Reilly appears to be the most offensive-minded of the three.
The Isles are 2-1-1 since Reilly's debut, which could have easily been 4-0 if not for third-period collapses against the Devils and Sharks. As he gets more comfortable in the system, he'll likely see more ice time, perhaps taking a bit of the offensive burden off of Dobson.