The back or Ryan Pulock’s hockey card would suggest that something was not right during his 2020-21 regular season. Pulock scored ten goals during the 2017-18 campaign and then followed that up with nine goals in 2018-19 and then he lit the lamp 10 times in 2019-20. But during this season’s abbreviated 56 game slate, Pulock scored only two goals and didn’t find the back of the net until scoring the overtime winner against the Rangers on April 11th.
But the playoffs have brought about a completely different story for Pulock as he leads all defenseman in scoring during the post-season with four goals including his third game winner of the playoffs, a second period goal in Sunday’s 2-1 win over the Lightning in game one of the Stanley Cup Semifinals in Tampa. Pulock
Ryan Pulock’s blast beat Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy for a goal that gave the Isles a 2-0 lead and they held on to win.
“I got a puck there and had some space to walk to the line,” said Pulock who has now scored seven goals to go along with 13 assists for 20 points in 49 career playoff games. I had a clear lane and got some good wood on it and it was able to kind of sneak through his arm.”
And now Pulock and the Islanders have a 1-0 series lead heading into game two on Tuesday night in Tampa (8pm NBCSN) and his offensive contributions have been a big part of the Islanders’ march to the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
“When it comes playoff time, you need all lines going and that’s the reason that we’ve had success to get to this point,”. “We just gotta keep growing our game. There’s going to be adjustments made. They’re going to make adjustments and they’re going to come hard in game two so we gotta be prepared for that.”
Islanders vs Lightning (Islanders lead 1-0)
Game 1…Sunday June 13th…Islanders 2 Lightning 1…
Game 2…Tuesday June 15th…Islanders at Lightning…8pm NBCSN
Game 3…Thursday June 17th…Lightning at Islanders…8pm NBCSN
Game 4…Saturday June 19th…Lightning at Islanders…8pm NBCSN
*Game 5…Monday June 21st…Islanders at Lightning…8pm NBCSN
*Game 6…Wednesday June 23rd…Lightning at Islanders…8pm NBCSN
*Game 7…Friday June 25th…Islanders at Lightning…8pm NBCSN
While Pulock was scoring goals like he would have liked during the regular season, he didn’t let his offensive drought affect the defensive side of his game. Pulock was a +15 during the regular season and he dished out 15 assists to finish with 17 points. In the playoffs, Pulock is a +4 and has also contributed two assists for a total of six points in 13 games.
“He’s playing really a solid game like he has all year just the pucks are going in,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. “During the year, he was trying to actually score and now he’s just putting pucks to the net and he’s shooting it and they’re going in. I don’t think there’s any change in his game. He’s had a real solid season from game one.”
Pulock was drafted by the Islanders in the first round (15th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft. He had some brilliant offensive seasons in junior hockey playing for Brandon in the Western Hockey League as he had eight goals and 34 assists for 42 points as a rookie in 2010-11. The following season, in 2011-12, Pulock scored 19 goals to go along with 41 assists for 60 points and was a +33 and was named a WHL First Team All-Star. Over his last two junior seasons (2012-13 and 2013-14), Pulock totaled 37 goals and 117 points before turning pro.
For the Islanders’ American Hockey League team in Bridgeport, Pulock scored 17 goals during the 2014-15 season and was named an AHL All-Star. He made his NHL debut on February 28th, 2016 and scored his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal that helped the Islanders win game three of the opening round of the playoffs against the Florida Panthers. Offense has been a big part of his game, but when he’s not finding the back of the net, he’s not losing sight of the big picture.
Especially with the Islanders enjoying success as a team.
“I tried not to let that bother me in the regular season,” said Pulock. “Just keep playing my game…play the right way. Play good defensively and I knew it would come but obviously come playoff time it’s nice to contribute in that way…help out offensively. Every goal is huge in the playoffs so it’s nice to get one or two. Just want to keep that going.”
It’s more than one or two. Pulock has turned the red light on four times, the most by an Islanders defenseman in the playoffs since Ken Morrow (5) and Denis Potvin (8) during the 1983 post-season. That’s pretty good company for Pulock who has played a strong 200-foot game all season. When it’s mattered the most, he’s made the adjustment to score some big goals for the Islanders who are now three wins away from their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 37 years.