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Pulock looks to become top pair material for Isles

The New York Islanders have started off the pre-season 5-2 and have looked mostly solid.  It’s only preseason, but there have been a few things that have stuck out that hopefully will carry into the regular season.  The first is that Mat Barzal is still a fantastic player.  The second?  Ryan Pulock is slowly but surely solidifying himself as a bonafide top pair defenseman.

Pulock has four goals in as many games so far this preseason.  As stated before, it doesn’t mean anything because these goals don’t count and his fortunes could change as the season rolls along.  However, there are a few things in his game that have improved significantly from last year.  Let’s take a look at some of these changes.

More confidence, more opportunities to score

Ryan Pulock has always had a special offensive talent that makes him a threat to score anywhere on the ice.  He has a booming slapshot and has some serious finesse for a bigger D-man.  What’s the difference between this year and last?  He’s willing to shoot the puck much more.

Pulock was able to score two PP goals Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.  Both were rocket slapshots from the point, but the fact that he took those shots makes it so much different from last year.  Last season you would see Pulock hesitate to shoot, wait for the perfect moment, or try to get too fancy.  This season he’s just letting them rip, and they’re going in at an alarming pace.  He also had some fancy moves last week where he had the puck on a string and tiptoed through three Rangers to bury it top shelf from the slot.

Body position is everything

Pulock has also learned to play with his body and not rely on his stick so much.  Unlike Zdeno Chara, Pulock is not 6’8.  Therefore, Pulock cannot just poke any puck away from an opposing player’s stick.  He’s finally learning to put his body in the right position.

He has great anticipation and although he’s never been a great defensive defenseman, he’s been much better this preseason than pretty much any time in his professional career.  Whether it be Barry Trotz’s new defensive system, his own growth, or a combination of both, Pulock isn’t constantly out of position or trying to get back on an odd man rush.  He’s been as steady as they come.

He’s finally ready to take the reins

The biggest difference between last season and this season for Ryan Pulock?  He is finally walking, talking, and playing like a top four defenseman.  Once a highly touted prospect, Pulock is now separating himself from the pack of bad to mediocre Islanders defensemen.

For years we’ve heard about this mythical slapshot of Ryan Pulock in Bridgeport.  We saw glimpses of it last season, and we saw the potential that Pulock had.  This is the year he puts it all together and rises above pretty much every Islander not named Mat Barzal.  This is Ryan Pulock’s year.

Ryan Pulock absolutely has the potential to become a special defenseman.  You can’t teach some of the skills he has, especially that slapshot of his.  At the end of the day it’s up to him and him only to determine where his career goes.  Will he work hard enough to become a better skater?  Will he put himself in good position to eliminate an odd man rush or being out of position.  All of these questions will be answered later this season, but we’re off to a good start so far.

 

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