May 27, 2023 | 1:57 am
Ryan Pulock gave a very candid assessment of coach Lane Lambert’s first season with the Islanders.
“I think it’s a tough spot no matter who you are,” Pulock, an eight-season Islanders veteran, said on the team’s parting day. “A lot of ups and downs and learning curves, your first year as a head coach. I thought he did a really good job of finding ways to help us be successful. Different places in the game and different changes in style or what we had to do over the year.
“I think so [that] Your first year as a head coach. You have ups and downs, and I thought he did a great job of working through it and helping us.
Nearly a month after the Isles’ season ended, the absence of any announcements on the futures of Lambert and general manager Lou Lamoriello suggests both will return for next season. While the rest of the league’s recruiting cycle is in good shape, it’s not inconceivable that he would make a change.
Lambert’s first stint as an NHL coach was a mixed bag for another year, with the Islanders going 41-31-9 before losing to the Hurricanes in the first round, but it didn’t inspire enthusiasm. About him.
There are several issues to consider:
- Bo Horvat’s lack of production. He has seven goals in 30 games and has had a quiet postseason since the Islanders acquired him from the Canucks in late January.
- After the 2021-22 break, Noah Dobson’s faith and production stalled.
- A terrible power play that has been perhaps the Isles’ single biggest issue for most of the season. The power play that assistant coach John MacLean was responsible for may have been the reason for the assistant coach to change his lineup, but the ultimate responsibility still rests with Lambert.
Also, it’s OK for Lambert to call scratch veteran Josh Bailey in the sixth game of the season — making sure he plays his 1,000th game as an Islander on the road instead of facing the Rangers — a big, uncapped mistake. The alternate captain alienates Baillie and threatens to lose the unit in the opening weeks of the unit.
“It’s telling me to scratch four or five games in the year before my 1,000th game to where we are at the end of the season,” said Bailey, who sat in the press box for all six playoff games. “I think it makes more sense now.”
On the other side of the coin, it’s hard to argue with how the Islanders played in the second half of the season. They entered the playoffs without Matthew Barzal, who was injured for most of his 17-9-4 run after the All-Star break. Lambert’s adaptation had a lot to do with it.
After Lambert preached being aggressive and playing a more open game, the Islanders began playing the type of defense-oriented game they had used so successfully under Barry Trotz.
Lambert made changes on the fly and helped the Islanders get back to the postseason despite losing Barzal, one of their best players.
Lambert has also done some good work with the likes of Hudson Fasching and Sebastien Aho – two players who have made everyday contributions for the first time this season – as well as combining with coach Alexander Romanov and Pierre Ingvall. It came in trades.
The penalty killer has also been working at a high rate all year, which has been enough to offset power play issues.
That, after all, adds another season for Lambert.
“I thought Len did a fantastic job,” said captain Ander Lee. “We had a lot of different swings at the time, a lot of things we had to manage. We got to a point where we were playing good hockey from the stretch to put ourselves in.” [the playoffs] And he gave us a chance.