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‘Extremely, Extremely Disappointing’: Lambert Knocks Islanders Effort

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New York Islanders

Coach Lane Lambert wasn’t a happy camper after the New York Islanders (2-2-0) were steamrolled by the New Jersey Devils (2-2-0) 4-1 at UBS Arena. Just a day ago, national chatter put New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff on the hot seat because of New Jersey’s mediocre start.

Though it’s not like New Jersey is the 2016 Pittsburgh Penguins or 2018 Washington Capitals. Last season, New Jersey missed the playoffs by nearly 40 points. They’re not exactly a Stanley Cup contender.

Pick your poison. Lackluster effort. Undisciplined penalties. A faster team. And lackluster effort.

READ MORE: Rapid Recap: Islanders Sleepwalk Against Devils, Lose 4-1

Yes, we used lackluster twice because Lambert used extremely twice to describe his feelings towards his teams’ compete-level.

“It was extremely, extremely disappointing,” Lambert said. “We had been trending up. We’ve done a lot of good things in the last couple of games. But tonight was a tough night for everyone.”

Lambert didn’t raise his voice or pound the table, at least not in public. He delivered the critiques simply and calmly but with direct accuracy.

The Islanders were outshot 15-2 (at 5v5) in the third period, 20-5 overall. According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Islanders had just four high-danger chances, compared to 16 Devils’ chances.

New Jersey is somewhat improved, but the New York Islanders are the team trying to get back on track. They’re the team trying to refire the engine that carried them to within 60 minutes of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. And the Islanders are a team trying to forget the cavalcade of calamity, illness, and losing that marred their 2021-22 season.

If they want to make the playoffs, they can’t put themselves in another hole. Pittsburgh is lighting up the scoreboard like the tree at Rockefeller Center. Other Metro Division rivals, Carolina Hurricanes, the Rangers, and even the Philadelphia Flyers, are off to good starts.

To lose is inevitable in an 82-game season. To lose to a lowly division rival with an ugly effort is another.

Lambert probably stopped well short of what he could have said. The only Islanders player to be on the ice for more shot attempts for than against was Josh Bailey (16-15). Noah Dobson was the only Islander with a positive scoring chance count (10-8).

Defenseman Scott Mayfield was overwhelmed and was on the ice for 15 scoring chances against, compared to only three chances-for.

“Obviously, they came at us hard. We failed to make poise plays,” Lambert said. “To a man, we all know we’re better than that. We’ll look at it, we’ll learn from it, and we’ll move on.”

Speed is tough to learn, and the Metro Division has a lot of it. Last season’s top three teams (Rangers, Carolina, Pittsburgh) play at full speed, always. Thursday night was a great chance for two points and a 3-1-0 record.

The next five games won’t be easy. Actually, they’re brutal. Dante’s Inferno-type brutal. In order, the New York Islanders will face the three-time Stanley Cup Finalist (two-time winner) Tampa Bay Lightning. The 2022 President’s Trophy-winning Florida Panthers. The 2022 Metro Division winning Eastern Conference runner-up New York Rangers, followed by the other Metro top dog Carolina Hurricanes, and finally, the Colorado Avalanche, who got the big parade after winning the 2022 Stanley Cup.

It would be very easy to lose three, if not four, of the next five and be well underwater before November.

And the game of catchup begins again. The Islanders have no place for sloppiness against bad teams if they hope to reclaim their playoff stature, and three offensive zone penalties count as extra sloppy.

You can’t take penalties in the offensive zone, 200 feet away from your net,” said Lambert. “Not a recipe for success, that’s for sure…there’s no question that discipline in certain areas–you can take penalties you have to take, unnecessary ones are tough and can switch momentum early on.”

The New York Islanders won only 39 percent of the faceoffs. New Jersey center Nico Hischier had a 52 percent faceoff last season. On Thursday, he won 12 of 19 (63 percent). Erik Haula is a career 52 percent face-off guy. Yet he won nine of 12.

Lambert concluded with a dry poke at his team’s hunger on the dots and inability to gain possession.

“No, I wasn’t happy with the compete level. I do buy into the fact that faceoffs are a reflection of that,” he said.

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