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Islanders hope Samuel Bolduc can ‘push his way’ into lineup


Noah Dobson knows something about the situation in which his Islanders teammate Samuel Bolduc has found himself: sticking on an NHL roster while trying to work his way into more regular playing time.

During his rookie season of 2019-20, Dobson — who could not be sent to the AHL due to the NHL-CHL agreement — found himself as the Islanders’ extra defenseman, asked to practice, but rarely to play.

Thanks to injuries, he ended up getting into 34 games of the pandemic-shortened season, but the overarching point was to grow and learn.

“I think just being around the NHL level, you can learn a lot,” Dobson said following practice Thursday. “Off the ice, growing up, learn how to be a pro. Also, just being on the ice every day with NHL players, you get a lot out of that. So I think just to try to take that year, the times where I wasn’t playing, make sure I’m getting a lot of extra work and continuing to work on my game.”


Samuel Bolduc (left) battles for the puck with Vincent Trocheck during the Islanders' preseason game vs. the Rangers.
Samuel Bolduc (left) battles for the puck with Vincent Trocheck during the Islanders’ preseason game vs. the Rangers.
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Bolduc was already inserted into the lineup after Scott Mayfield missed the win over the Coyotes, and he could get another chance on Friday against the Devils.

At least for the time being, that’s where the opportunities will come for the 22-year-old defenseman.

Islanders coach Lane Lambert would like to see him seize this one.

“I’m hoping he takes steps and pushes his way into the lineup on a permanent basis,” Lambert said.

Barring long-term injury elsewhere, that likely would require Bolduc to supplant Sebastian Aho on the left side of the third pair.

Right now, that doesn’t seem likely given that on Tuesday, Aho was on the ice for some seven more minutes than Bolduc though they started on the third pair together.

That’s a sign that Bolduc is still earning the trust of the coaching staff, which is doling out his minutes cautiously.


Samuel Bolduc (right) looks to take the puck away Travis Kocecny during the Islanders' preseason game vs. the Flyers.
Samuel Bolduc (right) looks to take the puck away Travis Kocecny during the Islanders’ preseason game vs. the Flyers.
AP

“He’s gotta be ready, focused and there’s little details in his game that he can do,” Lambert said. “What we really like about him is his puck-moving and his ability to do that. And he’s a big body, so he’s gotta defend hard.”


Mayfield (leg) did not practice Thursday and still has yet to skate, though Lambert, when asked, did not rule out him facing the Devils.


Ilya Sorokin was the first goalie off the ice following practice, indicating he could be in line to start Friday.


Devils coach Lindy Ruff told reporters that he doesn’t believe Erik Haula or Tomas Nosek will travel to Long Island on Friday.

Neither participated in practice.

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