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Coach’s Corner: What Lambert Said Regarding Lineup Secrecy, Stronger Starts

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New York Islanders, Lane Lambert

New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert addressed the media following Saturday morning’s optional skate ahead of their contest with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Besides giving updates on players (everyone is available against Columbus), he did answer questions regarding his lineup secrecy and the key to getting off to stronger starts.

NYI Hockey Now also spoke to Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Matt Martin about starting stronger, which has been an issue for the Islanders this season.

Lambert’s Secrecy

What started as a genuine question quickly became an inside joke of sorts with New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert. When Barry Trotz was behind the bench, specifically last season, his answer to “Who’s starting in goal” was always the same.

“A Russian.” Trotz would say.

Early in the season, it might have been game one, I asked Lambert who he was starting, and he answered with Ilya Sorokin. It was a shock that we had been given this information because we were not used to it over the four years with Trotz at the helm.

But the next time we asked, Lambert laughed and said, “You’ll see.”

One day following Lambert’s morning skate media availability, I asked Lambert if he would do the Trotz-Russian thing. He laughed and said he was not planning on it.

After a couple more times of us asking and Lambert laughing, we got to the point where the question was more theatre than worthwhile, so we backed off.

Following Saturday’s morning skate, Lambert was asked what advantage he gets when another team announces their starting netminder. In this instance, Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen had already shared that Joonas Korpisalo would be in goal to face his team.

“I think it helps, Lambert said. We certainly, everybody, has film and scouts and things like that. So it can help you if you find out the day before, but, you know, again, some guys are a little bit different.”

Ilya Sorokin was the first goaltender off the ice at Islanders morning skate, but him starting against Columbus was not confirmed.

The follow-up to that answer was why Lambert kept his lineup and starting goaltenders a secret, with other teams having no problems sharing out that kind of information.

“I don’t see a reason to give the other team any information.”

It’s an understandable decision. Every NHL team looks for an advantage, and Lambert, likely due to general manager Lou Lamoriello’s wishes, will not provide information that could give the opponent an advantage.

Why do so many teams provide information if they believe it hurts their chances of winning?

Preparation the Name of the Starting Strong Game

This season, getting off to strong starts has been an issue for the New York Islanders. But over the last few games, against the New York Rangers (4-3 win) and the Arizona Coyotes (3-0 loss), the Islanders put together solid first periods.

What’s been key?

“Well, you know, I think that, at times, it takes a little while to get going,” Lambert said. “And I think our preparation, different areas that we’ve worked on throughout the day, I think, have helped us.”

New York Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau also mentioned the preparation word.

“I think preparation. Everyone has to prepare mentally,” Pageau said. “You know your role. Just go out there and do it. Try not to do too much if something doesn’t go your way. Don’t try to prepare the other guys. Just do your own [thing].”

“And I think everyone knows what we have to do.”

Keeping it simple is something forward Matt Martin touched on as well.

“I think it’s more a mindset thing and just probably keeping it simple early,” Martin said. “And generally, whoever kind of gets to their game first is going to control larger portions of the night, and sometimes, if you don’t find your game early, it’s tough to find at any point because you start to get frustrated.”

“So I think if we can just continue to keep it simple, get it in on the fore-check, the strength of our team, then you kind of set that foundation, and then make plays from there as opposed to the other way around.”

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