Noah Dobson’s production dip due to Islanders health

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A season that started as a coming-out party for Noah Dobson has eased off, at least a little bit, in recent weeks.

Instead of breaking the club record for assists by a defenseman, Dobson will likely have to settle for merely being the first to break 60 since Denis Potvin — he came into Thursday’s game against Columbus with 58.

Instead of being in the mix for the league lead in ice time, he was down in seventh, finally dipping below 25 minutes a game.

Noah Dobson’s ice time has dipped below 25 minutes per game with the Islanders now healthy. Robert Sabo for the NY Post

Instead of being consensus third place in Norris Trophy voting, he might slip off a handful of ballots, thanks mostly to recording just five points over his past 16 games since March 1.

There’s a good reason the brakes have been applied.

The Islanders have, since the start of February, been relatively healthy on defense.

Dobson’s ice time — and the ascendant numbers that came with it — happened as a by-product of the tape-and-glue blue line they had for the first half of the season.

“Obviously early on in the year, we had so many injuries where there was no choice,” Dobson told The Post before the Islanders faced the Blue Jackets on Thursday. “Now we’re pretty healthy back there, we’re able to roll three pairs pretty fluidly. It’s been good, and the style that we’re playing with [coach Patrick Roy] is a little different where it requires more high pressure.

“So as a D-man, you gotta make sure you’re fresh and you’re playing with high energy, playing with pace. So just been adjusting to that. Obviously our whole team looks a lot better with a healthy D corps, so we’ve been able to roll three pairs pretty good.”

Before the All-Star break — when Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield and Sebastian Aho all spent varying degrees of time out injured — Dobson was averaging 25:59 per night and matching up with the opposition’s top line.

With everyone other than Mayfield healthy right now, Dobson’s workload has dipped to 22:57 per since the break.

Noah Dobson (l.), pictured celebrating a goal with Mathew Barzal, has a chance to top 60 points for the Islanders this season. Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

And depending on the configuration Roy has used, Dobson has occasionally drawn easier matchups. 

“Maybe it’s an adjustment for him, but it’s good to have everybody healthy,” Roy said. “Noah just needs to play within what he is. He’s a very good puck mover, moves the puck very well. He’s been playing a lot with Pelly as a pairing. We always talk about, maybe he could defend a little bit better, but he’s an offensive defenseman and he’s been doing just that for us.”

The occasional mistake in the defensive zone is still a part of Dobson’s game.

It’s also easy to speculate that maybe so much ice time early in the season had a bit of a burnout effect on him, given the drop in his numbers.

Noah Dobson has recorded just five points in 16 games since the start of March. AP

But that does conveniently excuse the Islanders’ power-play struggles lately — for which Dobson bears some, but pretty far from all, responsibility.

And he does not sound like someone who is tired.

“Honestly, when you’re playing, when I felt like I was playing that many minutes, you’re kind of in that rhythm and zone,” he said. “You don’t really notice a difference from 26 to 23, 24 [minutes]. It all feels the same. It’s not like you’re going from 26 to 15, 14. You’re still playing in the 20s most nights.

“But usually once you’re in the game, you’re trying to find that zone and that rhythm, whether you’re playing 28 minutes, 15 minutes or 20 minutes. You’re just trying to find that zone for your game where you can go out each shift and make good plays. So that’s kind of the mindset.”


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