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AMac back on track

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
Recovering from late season hip surgery has taken much longer than Andrew MacDonald anticipated. He came to training camp ready to play with six months of recuperation and rehab behind him. But, he has continued to take precautions these last three months, including not skating the day after a game, to prevent reinjuring himself.

Not taking part in practices on a consistent basis made it tough early on for MacDonald to get his footing back. But over the last few weeks, he’s taken part in more team practices and has noticed the difference in game situations.

Andrew MacDonald plays the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the game at the Prudential Center on November 26, 2011. The Islanders won 3-2. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
“It’s been a progression,” MacDonald said. “I hadn’t really practiced much at the start of the season. As a result, I felt like the timing was off a little bit. But lately I’ve been practicing a lot more and it’s helped a lot, especially with systems and repetitions with whatever drills, it helps a lot. I feel more comfortable now than I did at the start of the year.”

Despite the maintenence schedule, the Judique, Nova Scotia native has still played a critical role on the Islanders blue line as Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano has given MacDonald an average of 23:20 of ice time per game, second on the team behind Captain Mark Streit.

MacDonald has also been on the ice in all critical situations. He has averaged a team-high 2:36 per game of shorthanded ice time and is second amongst defensemen with an average 1:52 of power play time per game. Even after last season’s injury, MacDonald hasn’t shied away from blocking shots, holding a team-high 56.

“When you watch Andrew MacDonald play, he’s a pretty skilled hockey player,” Capuano said. “He’s a defenseman that makes a great first pass and that utilizes the net. He’s got very good deception and puck protection when he does break that puck out.”

Capuano continued, “When he moves the puck and we go in transition, we are a better hockey team. We play more in the offensive zone.”

Utilizing MacDonald in all game situations, Capuano doesn’t get bothered that he may need more time off the ice maintaining his body than the rest of his skaters because he knows he’ll come to games ready to play. One area the 25-year-old defenseman would still like to contribute more is on the offensive side of the puck.

Last season, he led all Islanders defensemen in scoring with four goals and 23 assists for 27 points in 60 games, but through the first 21 games this season, he has posted just one goal for one point and a -9 rating.

Al Montoya makes a pad save as Zach Parise battles for the rebound against Andrew MacDonald at the Prudential Center on November 26, 2011. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
“It’s frustrating, looking at numbers,” MacDonald said. “But you can’t really read too much into it as a player, whenever you look at them. You have to evaluate your whole game and the situations you’re in and whatnot. It is frustrating especially considering I’m getting power play time and the results aren’t there, but hopefully I’ll be able to pick it up here and help out.”

These last few games have given MacDonald and the rest of his teammates hope as they’ve seen their game progress. MacDonald feels once the team starts scoring on a consistent basis, his own offensive game will also improve.

“We were struggling to score goals there,” MacDonald said. “We aren’t out of the woods yet by any means, but I think we are making a lot of good strides and guys are really starting to find their own individual games. Once everybody does that, we apply it to our system and our team game and I think we are going to have a lot of success. We got to be consistent about it and keep moving forward.”

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