Bottom pair D hold their own
What worries you in a playoff series is the unknown, and you just aren't sure of what to expect from some members of the Islanders defense. Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech will be pared together and average well over 20 minutes a night with Lane Lambert matching them up against the Canes' top line as much as possible. But on the road, without the last change, the other pairings will be tested and have to avoid costly turnovers and poor decisions in their own zone.
Scott Mayfield is the type of player that raises his game in the postseason, where you can get away with a more physical level of play, but the other three defensemen have been prone to defensive lapses throughout the regular season that will be exploited by Carolina in this series if they continue.
As talented as Noah Dobson is offensively, his defensive game did not take a step forward in 2022-23, and he's going to be paired with rookie Samuel Bolduc who will stick in the Islanders lineup for as long as Alexander Romanov remains out with an injury. Lane Lambert likes the way Bolduc skates and moves the puck, but Bolduc is going to have to be stronger in his zone and make more decisive decisions when he encounters a different brand of hockey than he's seen in his professional career thus far, which includes just 17 NHL games.
“Obviously, the games are going to be a bit more physical, I would say. Given my size, it's probably one part of the game I can handle very well," Bolduc said to The Hockey News. "So yeah, just keep moving the puck quick and be physical, we me, an and everything will be fine.”
Time will tell if everything will be fine. We'd expect Carolina is going to put their top line out against the Dobson-Bolduc pairing as much as they can. The young pair will be tested early and often and Game 1 should be an early indication if they're up for the task.