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Which Islanders Will Benefit Most From New Coach Patrick Roy?




East Meadow, NY– It’s only been a few days since Patrick Roy took the helm of the New York Islanders, but by all accounts, players are responding well to him. And as Roy continues to further mold the Islanders into his vision, players will only get more and more comfortable.

“Every day, I feel like we’re progressing in what we’re trying to do,” Roy said Tuesday morning. “I think the guys are buying into it. I was just trying to go baby steps at the beginning and teach them the first day. Today, we got more into our structure. We really want to make sure we go over details and continue, as a coaching staff, learning about our team.”

With Roy now in charge, players have the opportunity to prove themselves to their new head coach. Potentially, some could start to blossom under his guidance by reaching new heights or simply playing to their potential.

Samuel Bolduc:

Samuel Bolduc was thrown into the fire when he was called up to the Islanders last season, and it showed in his 17 games.

This year hasn’t been much better. Although he’s received much more consistent playing time due to all the injuries the Islanders have endured on defense, Bolduc has continued to make mistakes in his own zone when under pressure with the puck.

Bolduc will be out of the lineup for the Islanders tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights. Roy says that’s not a punishment. While most have been quick to point out Bolduc’s shortcomings, Roy sees room for him to grow.

“Sam played a very good game [the other night],” Roy said. “We just don’t want Mike [Reilly] to sit out too long. He’s going to be back in the lineup no matter what. We’re very happy with the way he’s progressing. We’re pleased with his game, and he’s a great kid. He’s learning fast, and he’s young.”

Perhaps with Roy’s more hands-on approach to coaching, Bolduc will develop into the NHL defenseman he was projected to be when the Islanders drafted him.

Pierre Engvall:

Pierre Engvall is having a down year.

The winger has just 14 points in 41 games and was scratched from the lineup twice by former head coach Lane Lambert for defensive mistakes.

Engvall is currently on the shelf with an upper-body injury. But he’ll be eager to jump back on the ice for his new coach when he returns because one of the biggest points Roy has preached early on has been possessing the puck, which is right up Engvall’s alley.

He’s a big, strong skater who can move with the best of them, making him perfect for moving the puck in transition.

If he can get back to doing that under Roy, be prepared to see a version of Engvall akin to the one who broke out for the Islanders when he joined them at last year’s trade deadline.

Mathew Barzal & Bo Horvat:

Mathew Barzal and Bo Horvat were already playing well before Roy was hired.

But judging by their performance in Roy’s first game Sunday night–in which they combined for three points and connected for the winning goal in overtime–the two are now feeling an extra boost, one that Roy is sharing with them.

“They play really well together,” Roy said. “They’re outstanding young players, so it’s a great opportunity for me to work with those guys. I’m very pleased with the commitment those guys made. They’re very important players on our team, and when they’re playing their best, then we are a very good hockey team.”

Noah Dobson:

Like Barzal and Horvat, Noah Dobson was also having a strong season, the best of his career, in fact, before the coaching change.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t areas in which he can improve, though.

“The ceiling for him is very high,” Roy said. “He is a very good defenseman, and I don’t think we need to teach him too much offense because he’s so good offensively. He moves the puck and jumps in plays, so if we can help him out with the defensive side and awareness, I think he’s going to be a premier defenseman in this league.”

Dobson has already made major strides this season. If there’s anyone who can squeeze more out of him, it’s Roy.

But while Roy knows that connecting with each player and helping them improve individually is important. Ultimately, though, his focus is helping the team as a whole.

“I don’t want them to like the coaching staff because we let them do what they want,” Roy said. “I want them to like the coaching staff because they believe we’re going to make this team better.”




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