The learning curve was always going to be steep for rookie defenseman Samuel Bolduc as he unexpectedly found himself playing in his first postseason after just 17 regular season games, but recent mistakes have led to head coach Lane Lambert benching him in two out of the previous three games and his spot in the lineup is now in question for Game 3 at UBS Arena.
The 22-year-old defenseman had another forgetful night and a teachable moment on Wednesday as he served a double-minor for high-sticking Brett Pesce at 4:01 of the second period that left the Canes defenseman bloodied and put the Islanders on the penalty kill for their second double-minor of the game. Bolduc went from the box to the bench and didn't see any more ice time the rest of the way, logging just 5:08 in eight shifts.
In the regular season finale, Lambert sat Bolduc for the third period against the Montreal Canadiens after he allowed Nick Suzuki to score short-handed and pulled Montreal to within a goal heading into the third period of a game the Islanders needed to clinch a postseason berth.
"He hasn't played too many games up here and every young player that comes up there is a continuing learning process and playoffs is a completely different level, said Lambert when asked about Bolduc . "It's been a little bit of a challenge for him, but he's done some good things too."
Lambert said injured Alexander Romanov was getting "closer" and has been skating well, but the evaluation is ongoing to determine if he's ready for playoff action. Romanov hasn't been ruled out for Game 3, as all lineup decisions will be made on Friday. If Romanov can't go, it's no guarantee Bolduc will be the sixth defenseman, as Lambert mentioned that Parker Wotherspoon could be an option despite having not seen game action since Jan. 21, a 5-2 home loss to the Hurricanes at UBS Arena.
"Everyone is option," said Lambert. "That's why the guys that aren't playing are working so hard, to make sure they're ready if called upon."