Old Westbury, NY– Lane Lambert experienced his fair share of growing pains throughout his first season as an NHL head coach last year.
But after taking the summer to reflect on all that was, Lambert is ready to focus on all that will be for him and the New York Islanders this season.
“I think certainly you look back on every aspect of year one,” said Lambert at the Islanders’s annual golf outing at Glenn Oaks Country Club on Monday. “It’s always about improving and getting better. I think we made strides, and we have more things to do to get better.”
Looking at the Islanders’s roster, signs of improvement–or any change at all, for that matter–aren’t easily recognizable, as much of last year’s roster is returning. However, neither Lambert nor any of his players are the same as they were five months ago. He’s optimistic as he enters his second season commanding the Islanders’s bench the upcoming year and views it as a new beginning.
“I look at it as a new group,” said Lambert. ” To me, it’s exciting to start fresh with that group that we finished with.”
Not all of last year’s team will be present at camp. Last week, Islanders president of hockey operations and general manager Lou Lamoriello announced that veteran forward Zach Parise won’t return to the team to start the season.
As one of the most reliable players on the team for the last two years, replacing Parise won’t be easily done. To figure out who will fill that spot in the lineup, there will be a healthy dose of competition for the Islanders in training camp.
“Training camp is going to be really good to take a look at some individuals and certainly some options that may be in place,” said Lambert. “I think anytime you can add competition from within, it’s a great thing. We’ve added some guys that have played NHL games; some have over 100 of them. So, that just adds to the competition for sure.”
While finding Parise’s successor will be on Lambert’s priority list, it won’t come before solving the Islanders’s powerplay issues from last year.
The Islanders were the NHL’s third-worst team on the man advantage in 2022-23. To ensure the power play improves, the head coach is planning to take a more hands-on approach with it this season.
“I’ll do a little bit more overseeing both areas of special teams,” said Lambert. “I think our five-on-five stuff, all that
we have pretty much in place.”
As for figuring out everything else, Lambert will start that process when the Islanders open training camp on Thursday.