Islanders D Ryan Pulock has transformed his game since last season, and it is impressing head coach Doug Weight.
Pulock showed spurts of an everyday defenseman last season, but it was consistent play. He wasn't being as aggressive as he could be. However, that has changed since Pulock returned to the Isles' lineup on Dec. 1.
"Whether you're sitting out or you have a bad game, sometimes you make a decision. And it sounds so easy, but I think he just came in a few games ago and it was like, 'OK, that's the guy,'" Weight told Newsday's Arthur Staple. "Quick hands, lugging the puck, stapling guys (to the wall) in his own zone. I think he fed off that."
The 23-year-old impressed his coach so much that Weight placed Pulock on the first line defense against the Penguins and Bruins recently. He has just one point over his last six games, but for looking at his overall play, Pulock has certainly impressed on the defensive end.
That is what Weight wants Pulock to focus on as he continues to grow. Offense hasn't been a problem considering his 39 goals in three AHL seasons. It also helps that his slap shot consistently stays around 100 mph, and he's crafty enough to give his forwards open looks with great fakes and passes. But, to be an all-around defenseman, he needs to be aggressive in the defensive area as well.
Weight has been seeing that of late, and because of that improvement, it is helping his offense as well.
"It started from his D, too - really exploding into players, using his big body," Weight said. "It's been really good in the D zone, assertive, good stick, making contact with people. He's been working a lot after practice on those things. He's feeling really confident defensively, it's transferred to his offense."
Weight continued by saying Pulock has worked on his technique in the defensive zone, given his large 6-foot-2, 225 pound body doesn't help him be the most nimble of skaters.
"When you look like him, 225, he's strong, a good skater, but his technique was poor. He's been working on it and now it's second nature for him. That's a credit to (assistant coach) Luke (Richardson), Cro (associate coach Greg Cronin) and Ryan."
Pulock will look to continue to improve on his one goal and three assists in 17 games this season.