The New York Islanders have picked up points in eight out of their last 11 games and are currently riding a four-game point streak. They have won their last two contests and added critical points before another long break between games.
Young players in Noah Dobson and Kieffer Bellows have seized opportunities this season and as of late have showcased a new level to their game that we had not yet seen from them.
Dobson’s Display of Talent a Look into Dynamic Future?
The talk all offseason was that Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello did not do enough to replace the skillset of puck-moving defenseman Nick Leddy. For a second straight year, defenseman Noah Dobson was elevated into a bigger role, and there were questions if he could handle it.
Sometimes throwing a player into a sink or swim position has its flaws. Other times it works like a charm.
Over the last month, Dobson has elevated his play to a different level. He has provided strong play in his own zone and has turned those plays into offense, transcending the Islanders system in the process.
Whether it has been joining the rush and filling lanes, getting shots on goal at even strength, or moving the puck with confidence on the power play, Dobson has played a focal role in the Islanders’ ability to collect points as of late.
In the month of December, Dobson had four goals and four assists in 10 games and played hero in the Islanders’ first game of 2022, as he let a shot go from the top of the circle to beat the Edmonton Oilers in overtime.
WICKED WRISTER, WICKED ENDING.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 1, 2022
He’s developed into the player that the club expected when they drafted him 12th overall back in 2018.
When asked about what has changed for the 21-year old this season, assistant coach Lane Lambert spoke on one aspect of his game.
“I think he’s just playing with a lot more confidence,” Lambert said. “It’s progressed from day one. He’s skating, he’s moving the puck, he’s transporting the puck.
“He’s always had that in him, but I think mentally he’s really taken it to the next level.”
Dobson has five goals and nine assists (15 points) on the season in 26 games and is currently riding a three-game point streak with two goals and three assists.
A New Sense of Belief in Bellows?
When you talk about a “prove it” year, this season was the definition of that for Kieffer Bellows.
The potential to score goals had always been there, but it was time to see the 23-year old showcase that he could be an NHL player. The biggest issue for Bellows was that in his limited minutes, a mistake or two would lead to a benching, with no room for error.
It was nothing personal, as Islanders head coach Barry Trotz just needed Bellows to understand the importance of doing the little things.
And despite the scarcity in minutes, Bellows has started to make the most of them.
Bellows saw one shift in the third period in a game against the Vegas Golden Knights back on Dec. 19. On that shift, he tied the game at 2-2 late in the third.
In the next game back following the Holiday break and another postponement, Bellows lit the lamp again on a strong individual effort as he skated end to end before showcasing a bit of patience.
Coast-to-coast like butter on toast. pic.twitter.com/2ZWrLiqERo
— NHL (@NHL) December 31, 2021
“He’s been working and when he’s been out of the lineup he’s done nothing but work to get better,” Lambert said. “He adds an element to our game.”
With the way Bellows has played as of late, with two goals and two assists over his last three contests, he’s forced the hand of Trotz to keep him in. Trotz made comments about Kyle Palmieri a few days ago (lower-body) and that his playing time would not be guaranteed when he returned.
Barry Trotz, asked about Kyle Palmieri (IR/Lower body) says no timetable. Adds, when Palmieri gets healthy, coaching staff will see if they put him back in because there are other players playing well right now.
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) December 31, 2021
And that is because of the hard work, dedication, and production of Bellows as of late.
Bellows has three goals and five assists (eight points) in 14 games this season and is also riding a streak, with points in three straight contests (two goals, two assists).
A subject of trade talks, Bellows may have extended his time on the island. If he does survive the NHL Trade Deadline, it will be interesting to see just how much the Islanders think he is worth
It all depends if he can keep up his strong play.
But that’s a discussion for another time.
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