Noah Dobson has already stepped up as much as the Islanders could reasonably expect him to this season.
But the ask on the 23-year-old defenseman is not going to ease up with Adam Pelech and Sebastian Aho both out injured, Pelech for at least the next few weeks.
Dobson has played the last two games on the left, his off side, and is expected to continue to do so.
And though the addition of Mike Reilly via waivers figures to reduce the minutes load the Islanders are putting on him, Dobson came away from Saturday’s loss to the Flyers having played a total of 59:46 over two nights.
“I don’t know how much more we can ask from him,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said. “And clearly, that’s a lot of minutes. So I think just keep doing what he’s doing. Mike will help cut those [minutes] down a little bit in certain situations. That’ll keep him a little more fresh.”
Noah Dobson is stepping up for the Islanders USA TODAY Sports
The evolution of Dobson into an all-situations, top-pair defenseman has come at a good time for the Islanders, who now need to survive an unknown stretch of the season without the man who usually anchors the defense corps.
If not for Dobson, their chances of doing so would be far worse.
“Obviously, [Pelech’s] a guy you can’t really replace in aspects of the things he does so well,” Dobson said. “Defensively, his stick, penalty killing, playing against top players, so it’s tough to replace that. But as a collective, as a group, we just all gotta take a couple steps.”
Lambert was forthright in his assessment of Samuel Bolduc’s game with the young defenseman expected to come out of the lineup Tuesday to make room for Reilly.
Samuel Bolduc is expected to lose his spot in the lineup. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con
“I thought he started the game slow the other night, and we can’t have that,” Lambert said. “I thought he got better as the game went on. I thought his physicality, that was a good step for him. Hopefully, that pushes him along, pushes him forward.
“There’s just a consistency that we need to see game in and game out, regardless of whether he’s been sitting out or not, once you get your opportunity you have to be ready to go.”
Cal Clutterbuck and Simon Holmstrom both missed Monday’s practice with illness and are day-to-day.
Aho (upper body) was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 24 and will be eligible to return on Dec. 2 against the Panthers.
Matt Martin (upper body) was a full participant in Monday’s practice and Lambert left the door open to his activation off IR for Tuesday’s game in New Jersey.