Islanders' Adam Pelech is an All-Star, but Mat Barzal could join him in Vegas

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Thursday was a big day for Adam Pelech.

In fact, it was a day of firsts for the Islanders defenseman.

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Earlier in the day, he was named an NHL All-Star for the first time and then he scored his first goal of the season in the Islanders’ 3-2 win over the Devils at UBS Arena and was named the game’s number one star.

Speaking of stars, Pelech will be heading to Las Vegas to be a part of NHL All-Star Weekend at T-Mobile Arena.  He will take part in the Skills Competition on Friday February 4th and then he’ll be the Islanders’ representative for the NHL All-Star Game on Saturday February 5th.

“Definitely surprised but it’s a huge honor and I’m looking forward to it,” said Pelech.

Pelech had been mentioned as a possibility to be named to the Canadian Olympic team, but the NHL decided not to send their players to Beijing because the COVID-19 pandemic has been wreaking havoc with the schedule. Without the potential opportunity to display his skill set on the world stage, Pelech is taking his talents to Las Vegas and is the first Isles defenseman to be named to the All-Star Game since Mark Streit in 2009.

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Fans around the National Hockey League are certainly aware of how good Pelech is thanks to the Islanders’ back-to-back trips to the NHL’s final four during the last two postseasons, and now, he’s being recognized as one of the best defensemen in the league.

But on Long Island, most people already knew that.

“We’re very excited,” said Islanders associate coach Lane Lambert.  “He’s a guy maybe, not anymore I guess, but sometimes he’s under the radar a little bit. Just the little things that he does and what you can really appreciate watching him day in and day out. Really happy for him.”

Over 328 career regular season games with the Islanders, Pelech has racked up 81 points on 17 goals and 64 assists. He’s also appeared in 48 career playoff games over the last three seasons with 2 goals and 10 assists for 12 points.

“He’s been such a rock for us the last three or four years now,” said Islanders forward Mat Barzal, who scored the game-winning goal Thursday night as he snapped a 2-2 tie with 4:53 left in the third period.

“If the Olympics were happening, he probably would have been named to Team Canada. He’s just so loved in the locker room so I think everyone was happy. He got a big ovation after the game which is fun.”

Pelech is the only Islander going to Las Vegas for the All-Star Game, but maybe that will change because it’s still possible that he could be bringing one of his teammates with him.

After the All-Star rosters were revealed, the NHL also announced the names of the players who fans can vote for in the “Last Men In” balloting. One additional player will be named to each team with one of the candidates for the final spot on the Metropolitan Division squad is Barzal.

Had the islanders not struggled at the start of the season, Barzal might already be an All-Star for the third time. The winner of the “Fastest Skater” competition at All-Star Weekend two seasons ago is the Islanders leading scorer this season with 7 goals and 15 assists for 22 points and he is currently riding a 9-game point streak (3 goals and 11 assists).

Pelech would like nothing more than to have Barzal go with him to Las Vegas.

“That would be awesome,” said Pelech. “Isles fans…get out there and vote for him.”

After a slow start to the season, COVID outbreaks, injuries, and multiple stops and starts to the schedule, the Islanders are 4-0-1 over their last five games and they are 5-0-1 in their last six games on home ice at UBS Arena.

Things are finally trending in the right direction for the Islanders.

They have an NHL All-Star in Pelech and they could have another one if Barzal can pick up enough votes.

The campaigning continues in Elmont on Saturday when the Islanders host the Capitals.