When Noah Dobson initially joined the NHL during the 2019-20 season, he was a healthy scratch on a regular basis. This afforded him a great deal of leisure.
In the NHL, it is customary procedure for healthy scratches to remain on the ice for a lengthier practice following a morning skate, and to be worked harder on normal practice days. This required Dobson to work on his shot.
Dobson had offensive potential as a prospect, notably with his passing and special-teams ability, but he never scored more than 17 goals in a Quebec Major Junior League season.
“My shot was only adequate,” Dobson told The Post. “At this level, you must have the ability to put pucks in the net. Men are adept at blocking shots, therefore you must have velocity on your shot.”
On his current shot, nobody could accuse Dobson of missing these traits. Just 33 games into the Islanders’ season, he has scored 10 goals, three shy of his career high. A “good enough” shot is now a weapon, effective from anywhere on the rink and fast enough to beat goaltenders without the aid of deflections and tips.
Less than halfway through the season, Noah Dobson is only three goals away from tying his career high.
The rationale for the improvement, according to Dobson, is straightforward.
The next 23-year-old defenceman stated, “Just shooting a lot of pucks.” “I believe it’s something I’ve always taken delight in during the summer. Ensure that I am shooting many pucks on and off the ice. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, and I believe it’s vital.”
Dobson is primarily a hockey lover, and he spends many of his off-nights throughout the season watching out-of-town games. It’s not a film session in the classic sense, but it allows Dobson to pick up on what players like Cale Makar and Roman Josi are doing nightly and adapt it into his own game.
In addition to working with skills instructors in Prince Edward Island during the summers, the most of his shot development has been the result of his own practice.
Dobson stated, “There are various shots you may practice.” “I’ve practiced my one-timer extensively on the power play. Those are the shots I typically obtain. However, simply positioning oneself in different places to get pucks off quickly or similar activities. Trying to have more than simply a solid slap shot and passable wrist shots. Kind of a complete set of shots.”
When Dobson is not playing or honing his one-timer, he frequently watches Cale Makar of Colorado to learn the finer parts of his game.
As the game has evolved faster and opponents have begun to close in on space more quickly, the slap shot, once a weapon utilized by players around the league, has gone out of favor. A hazardous one-timer is the most effective weapon, especially for defensemen, who typically possess the puck near the top of the offensive zone.
Last week against the Bruins, for instance, Dobson blasted a rocket from the right point to tie the game at two.
It also helps that the Islanders’ defensemen are more emboldened to contribute offensively under coach Lane Lambert.
Former Isles defenseman Devon Toews stated, “The way they generate offense now is a bit more advantageous for him.” It permits him to participate in the play a bit more than he was previously able to. By simply being a trustworthy player, he has garnered a great deal of loyalty, allowing him to make reads and take risks that other players would not.
Lambert added, “Our defensive approach is more aggressive.” There is less D-to-D passing and far more shots. Particularly from low to high… So long as there is traffic [on the Internet], he is having some success.”
Last week, in the Isles’ loss to the Bruins, Noah Dobson re-fires his one-timer to level the score.
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This low-to-high puck movement has benefited the majority of Islanders defenders, not just Dobson. Scott Mayfield is just one goal away from his career high, and Adam Pelech, despite being injured, is only two goals away from his. Dobson, however, has produced more than twice as many goals as any other defenseman on the Islanders.
This is partially due to his power-play time, but he also has seven goals at even strength. Three years ago, Dobson was on the ice with the other healthy scratches after morning skating.
“That first year was a significant improvement for my shot,” he remarked. “When I returned for my second season, I continued to earn those extra reps and shots.”
As the Islanders left the rink for practice on Wednesday, Dobson was slow to leave. He stayed a few minutes longer to practice one-timers.
Inquiring with Toews
Toews helped the Avalanche defeat the Lightning in the postseason, something he was unable to do with the Islanders.
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Prior to Monday’s Islanders game against the Avalanche, Toews was asked about meeting the Lightning in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final after facing them in the 2020 NHL semifinals.
Similar team, similar style of play, he remarked. Simply unique on this side.
And distinct in the outcome. Toews is now a Stanley Cup champion, and his defensive pairing with Makar may be the finest in the game. No one saw this coming, not even when the Islanders trading him for two second-round picks sounded like pennies on the dollar with a cap crunch looming.
Toews has lived in Colorado longer than he did on Long Island, and he now has championship experience.
“I believe it was one or two days after [winning], and I’m not sure where we were, but we were somewhere having fun. “Three or four of us are seated on a couch, and we were just discussing how much we wanted to do it again,” Toews added. “How much we wanted to enjoy it for the week or however long you have of going a bit crazy, but then… I’d want to do it again.”
Cory Schneider has made peace with his position as the Islanders’ backup goaltender despite his outstanding playing resume.
It is enlightening to converse with Cory Schneider because few others with his level of experience share his perspective.
Schneider, 36, is a former All-Star with the Canucks and Devils and played in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, but he does not exude an air of superiority. Now the Islanders’ backup goalkeeper, he spends the majority of the season with Bridgeport of the AHL. Even if given the chance, he remains uncertain about his ability to play regularly in the NHL.
Monday in Denver, he responded, “I don’t know” when he was asked this subject. “Perhaps if I were 10 years younger, my performance down there [in the AHL] would be different. I am aware of the circumstance and my role within it. If other teams or individuals believe I can still play, it is up to them; for me, it is more about how I feel.”
With the Islanders facing a back-to-back against the Rangers and Panthers before the holidays and Semyon Varlamov still sidelined with a lower-body injury, it is at least conceivable that Cory Schneider may play. In a game against New Jersey last April under identical circumstances, he performed well despite the Isles’ elimination from postseason contention.
Lambert is more likely to compete with Ilya Sorokin in a back-to-back situation, which Sorokin has previously managed. In Bridgeport, though, Schneider had a save percentage of.921. It is not impossible that he plays for the Isles.