2. The Training Wheels are off for Noah Dobson
Noah Dobson, who celebrated his 21st birthday on January 7, had the kind of performance that makes you feel confident the Islanders have got something in this young man.
Dobson appeared for the Isles sporadically throughout the 2019-20 regular season, often playing sheltered minutes against low-tier opposition. Which is okay. Barry Trotz was easing him into a role, letting him get acclimated to the NHL level.
But, Thursday felt like the ‘taking the training wheels off’ moment for Dobson. Trotz had been praising the young defenseman’s offseason growth all throughout training camp, but the way he deployed the sophomore blueliner added conviction to that praise.
No, Dobson wasn’t the man given the task of shadowing Artemi Panarin or keeping Mika Zibanejad in check. In fact, the three Rangers he shared the ice with the most throughout Thursday’s action were Brett Howden, Jack Johnson, and Ryan Lindgren, according to Natural Stat Trick. Those names, with all due respect, shouldn’t cross your mind when you think of top-notch competition.
But Dobson was also one of four Islanders to crack 20 minutes TOI in all situations on Thursday. He saw a team-high 3:27 TOI on the power play, and it was on the man-advantage that he collected a secondary assist on Anders Lee’s second goal of the night. It was a pretty nice little play too, lots of patience on display from Noah here.
There was also the beautiful side-step of Ryan Strome. Having evaded Strome, Dobson proceeded down the half-wall and displayed excellent vision to nearly hit J.G. Pageau on the tape with a cross-seam pass. Really, really good stuff.
These were the skills so many Islanders fans saw in this kid, it’s the reason so many have been so excited for the day the proverbial training wheels came off. Thursday seemed like that day for Dobson, and with the skillset he’s already shown, there are likely more exciting days to come for him.