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New York Islanders

Lambert Not Setting Islanders Power Play In Stone




East Meadow, NY– With their first regular season game not until Saturday, the New York Islanders are getting ample time to prepare in practice.

On Tuesday at Northwell Health Ice Center, drilling the power play was the area of focus.

The power play is the Islanders’ biggest cause of concern entering the new season after finishing third from the bottom in the league a year ago. However, even though the season is fast approaching, head coach Lane Lambert isn’t ready to make any final decisions.

“There’s competition between both units,” Lambert said. “We’ve got people who can play on both units. That’s going to be a healthy thing for us. If one unit isn’t going, the other unit goes. That’s just the way it is.”

That competition appears to be between Anders Lee and Kyle Palmieri over who will occupy the net front position on the top unit.

“From day one, we’ve talked about stick positioning,” Lambert said. “In terms of which way the hands are and what sets up better for us to be able to make plays on both units.”

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In practice on Tuesday, the right-handed Palmieri was on the first unit with Bo Horvat, Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson and Noah Dobson, while the southpaw Lee was on the second, where there’s another spot up for grabs.

With Lee joining Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Pierre Engvall and Sebastian Aho, Ryan Pulock and Oliver Wahlstrom cycled in and out from the one-timer position at the left face-off circle.

“[Pulock] has a shot, and it’s the same thing for Wally,” Lambert said. “I think that a lot of times in that situation, we want Pulock, we want Wahlstrom, to get that shot away, but [opponents] go over there and take it away. That opens up other things. That’s the joy and the luxury of having one more guy than them. You have to pick where their weakness is.”

No matter who was in what position, Lambert was intrigued by what he saw in practice.

“I like what I’m seeing out of both units,” Lambert said. “I think guys feel good about where they’re at and the positions they are in. A very, very important piece of the puzzle is them feeling good.”

But practice is one thing; games are another.

During the preseason, the Islanders scored on just one of their 14 chances on the man advantage. If that trend carries over into the regular season, don’t be surprised to see Lambert make changes quickly.

“If things don’t pan out the way we want, we have to be flexible,” Lambert said. “We’ve done some good things here so far the last couple of days in practice. Now, we’ve got to translate it into games. There’s no question about that.”

On Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres, the Islanders’ power play will have its chance to speak for itself.

Follow Andrew Fantucchio on Twitter: @A_Fantucchio

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