When Hudson Fasching was recalled from Bridgeport back in early December, his play out of the gates was electric, proving early that he was a player that could not be taken out of the New York Islanders lineup. Samuel Bolduc is quickly doing the same.
Albeit a small sample size for Samuel Bolduc, just five games, he is quickly showing that he deserves to be playing every day.
Bolduc has five blocks and nine hits in an average of 15:19 TOI. He notched his first NHL goal on Tuesday night, in a spot start against the Seattle Kraken, with Alexander Romanov missing the game due to personal reasons.
1st NHL goal for BOLDUC!!
Isles lead 1-0 pic.twitter.com/rvjl7TwGel
— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) February 8, 2023
Bolduc has shown zero hesitation to let the puck go toward goal, as he has 14 attempts, credited with six shots, an average of 2.5 attempts per game.
The 22-year-old defenseman looked strong through his first five games in the National Hockey League, passing with confidence, making those heads-up plays that allowed for quick transitions up the ice.
On the defensive side of the puck, Bolduc was backing down to no one, stepping up at the Islanders’ blue line, keeping opponents to the outside, and quickly earned the trust of his head coach Lane Lambert.
“I like his size. I like his reach. I like his poise with the puck,” Lambert said before Tuesday’s game. “Certainly, as we saw and witnessed, when he gets into people, the play gets ended.”
Per Natural Stat Trick, Bolduc has played 66:46 minutes of five-on-five hockey in the NHL and has yet to be on the ice for a goal against. He’s been on the ice for three Islanders goals, including his own.
Noah Dobson is the only other defenseman to not be on the ice for a goal over the Islanders last six games, in large part to him playing in just the last two.
Not including Dobson, for obvious reasons, when Bolduc has been on the ice, the Islanders own a 2.95 Expected Goals Against of 2.95, which is the lowest amongst the other five defensemen in the Islanders lineup. He’s been on the ice for the fewest scoring chances against and high-danger chances.
“The more game I play, the more I’ll get used to the little details,” Bolduc said. “Like where the guys are going to be, and as much as I keep working hard, I mean, it’s gonna be good for me.”
As to what he’s learned about himself over his first five games, confident Bolduc was on display.
“My passing ability has always been good for me, and it shows a little bit, like once you know where the guys are going to be, it makes it easier for breakouts and even in the offensive zone,” Bolduc said.
“The more they’re gonna give me, I think, the more I’ll be comfortable.”
The Islanders are holding a morning skate Thursday ahead of their game against the Vancouver Canucks, so we will find out if Romanov returns.
But given how the Islanders need to continue to collect points and how Bolduc has shown, should he be out of the lineup regardless of Romanov’s status.
Bolduc, a left-handed defenseman, could slot into the lineup in Romanov’s spot like we saw, as well as Sebastian Aho’s.
Aho has been much better defensively this season than he ever has in the NHL but isn’t the strongest of defensemen, and the Islanders need their strongest players in the lineup. It’s that simple.
Every point is critical, and if Bolduc gives the Islanders a better chance at accomplishing that goal, Lambert has to find a way to integrate him into an everyday role.
Assuming Romanov is back or is back somewhat quickly, Lambert can take Aho out of the lineup and place Bolduc with Dobson. The Aho-Dobson pairing had been struggling, and with Dobson’s offensive game, Bolduc can hang back and play his strong brand of hockey, which just makes the Islanders backend even deeper.
Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock
Alexander Romanov-Scott Mayfield
Samuel Bolduc-Noah Dobson
Although the Vancouver Canucks may be a struggling franchise, they have speed up front in Elias Petterson and now Anthony Beauvilier, so having Bolduc in the lineup over Aho makes a tremendous amount of sense.
If Samuel Bolduc does see an increased role here in the final stretch of the season with the playoffs on the line, he’s going to have to keep producing, like Hudson Fasching did.