Lost in the New York Islanders' 7-0 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night at UBS Arena was that Kris Letang wasn't the only defenseman who made history. Letang became the first defenseman in NHL history to record five assists in a period and tied six others with six assists in a game from the blue line, but Noah Dobson made some less-notable Isles history in the third period.
Dobson was a -4 for the game, but even with the game long decided, he managed to skate 26:03, marking the 16th straight game where he has topped 25 minutes. The streak breaks the previously held record by defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who did it from Feb 10 - Mar 9, 2004.
Dobson is currently averaging 25:47, and no Islanders defenseman has averaged 25 minutes since the 2013-14 season when both Andrew MacDonald (25:25) and Travis Hamonic (25:01) did it for a team that finished 34-37-11 and well outside the playoff picture.
Dobson is now second in the league in average TOI (25:43), trailing only Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings. Doughty is an anomaly, having averaged 26:14 per game. and played a stunning 29:00 minutes a game during the 2013-14 season for the eventual Stanley Cup champions.
While the soon-to-be 24-year-old has risen to the occasion with Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock out of the lineup and has performed as the team's most indispensable player, there has to be some concern as to whether this new, intense pace is sustainable. It will be interesting to see if his minutes taper down if and when Pelech and Pulock get healthy. Since there's no timetable for when that will happen, this streak may continue through the All-Star break and into early February.
Dobson hasn't shown signs of slowing down and has the highest point-per-game total amongst defensemen during this stretch of extending minutes. However, the season isn't even at the halfway point. As long as he and Alexander Romanov are playing as the team's top pair, he'll be asked to log critical minutes down the stretch of games in addition to quarterbacking the power play and taking shifts on the penalty kill.
Perhaps we'll look back at Dobson's career and see the 25-minute mark being an annual occurrence, but until it is, there's an open concern as to how all the ice time he's logging during the first half of the season will impact his game and allow him to sustain his level of productivity.