The New York Islanders entered the 2023 All-Star break not as healthy as they would have liked, with two players out indefinitely in Cal Clutterbuck and Oliver Wahlstrom, and another on the shelf in Hudson Fasching. But New York is also missing their most prolific offensive defenseman, in Noah Dobson.
Given that Noah Dobson avoided an IR stint, missing the last four games with a lower-body injury but listed as day-to-day, is a positive sign that he could be ready to go when the New York Islanders resume their schedule on Feb. 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
With the acquisition of Bo Horvat last Monday, the play of Dobson becomes even more critical than it was before, and here’s why.
READ MORE: Bo Horvat’s Versatility, By The Numbers
Horvat is a tipping master, the best in the NHL this season, with 11 tips and one deflection this season. That means shots from the point become instrumental in his success and the Islanders’.
Dobson is third on the Islanders in shots on goal this season, with 137, averaging 2.85 shots per game. Not to mention, Dobson averages the most minutes per game out of anyone on the roster, with 21:04 ATOI.
Even with going scoreless in his last 17 games, Dobson leads the Islanders backend with 10 goals, which ranks sixth in the NHL amongst defenseman.
Over those 17 games, Dobson averaged 2.59 shots per game, a slight dip from his season average. Through the first 31 games of the season, Dobson went just one game with a goose egg in the shot department. In his last 17, he’s put forth two games without shots.
Although the lack of goals is concerning and is a clear need for New York, whose offense has been inept over the last month and a half, shots getting through from the point is just as important, even if they don’t go clean in.
Dobson ranks third on the Islanders with 792 shot attempts this season and is second with 586 unblocked attempts. He has missed the most shots on the roster, with 75.
Horvat has an ability to win positional battles in the slot, and if Dobson can find him with wrist shots (easier to deflect than a slapshot), these two can become an unconventional duo for the Islanders for many years to come–pending a Horvat extension.
Dobson leads the Islanders with 80 wrist shots.
Before Dobson went down with his injury, he had been quarterbacking one of the power-play units as head coach Lane Lambert mixed up his groups, given their lack of success over their last 24 chances, with zero power-play goals.
They are just three for their last 64 and rank 31st in the NHL at just 15.5 percent.
Power Play Connection
Dobson has struggled at the point on the power play, getting a little too cute at times, leading to turnovers or failing to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
The Islanders have 23 power-play goals this season, and Dobson has 10 power-play points, with three goals and seven assists. The Canucks own a 22.8 power-play percentage, with 39 goals, and Horvat has 11 of them, with 18 power-play points.
If the Islanders do want to increase their goal output, the power play is going to have to play a critical role, and both Bo Horvat and Noah Dobson will need to be instrumental.
If the Islanders do find a way to sneak into a playoff spot, the importance of coming through on power-play chances can be the make or break of heading to the next round or packing up the bags and heading home.