New York Islanders
Islanders Lambert Showing Desperation, But What About Players?
New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert does not wear his emotions on his sleeves often and hasn’t from day one. But over the course of this three-game skid (0-1-2), Lambert has let his frustrations be known.
Following last Thursday’s 6-5 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, Lambert barely gave us any type of response to our questions.
Saturday, after a 4-3 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens, Lambert slammed the bench door shut as he left the ice, incredibly furious with how that game ended as the Islanders continued to beat themselves.
At Monday’s practice, we saw a desperate head coach trying to do what he could to wake up his players.
He was hard on all of them, calling them out for their mistakes, fixing anything he deemed not to his standards during drills, and the players seemed to be buying into it.
They were going 100 percent on board battles, even injuring one of their own on accident as Jean-Gabriel Pageau missed Tuesday’s affair after getting clipped up high at practice by Alexander Romanov, if memory serves correctly.
In the locker room after practice, the players voiced that a practice like that type of hard, intense practice from Lane Lambert was certainly needed, Dobson stating, “We’re all grown-ups around here where we can take a beating when it’s needed…”
Then came Tuesday night, as the Islanders faced a weaker Ottawa Senators team, on the second of a back-to-back, with a goaltender in Kevin Mandolese making his NHL debut.
The Islanders, albeit not coming out as flat as we had seen as of late, were not at their best, but Ilya Sorokin was playing as if this was a game he was going to steal.
When Ryan Pulock scored under six minutes into the second period, it seemed like that would have been enough for two points.
But then, in the closing minutes of the second, the Islanders got caught sitting back, and the Senators tied it with Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock on the ice.
The Senators made it a 2-1 game just a tad over three minutes into the third on the power play, after the Islanders failed to capitalize on their power play less than a minute earlier.
That’s when Lane Lambert started to shorten his bench, showcasing his desperation.
Otto Koivula, who was playing in place for the injured Pageau, left the ice with 17:13 to play in the third and didn’t step on the ice again.
After the Islanders had tied the contest at two, thanks to a Brock Nelson power-play goal a little over seven minutes into the third, Lambert shortened his bench yet again as Josh Bailey didn’t touch the ice for the final 10:10 of the third, and all of overtime.
Then Lambert took Simon Holmstrom out of the rotation with 5:10 to play in regulation.
For the final five minutes of the third, Lambert operated with nine forwards, giving his top players as much time as possible to win the game.
In the overtime period, Mathew Barzal played 3:10, Bo Horvat played 1:15, Kyle Palmieri played 1:14, and Nelson played 1:19, as those players are paid to produce.
The Islanders had five shots in overtime, including one shot on their four-on-three power play.
In the shootout, in which the Islanders were 0 for 3 this season and had scored just one goal, Lambert went with Horvat to start, who missed the net, followed by Palmieri, who was stopped, and that was all she wrote.
Just how much was Lane Lambert in desperation mode?
Horvat set a career-high with 27:49 minutes played, the most by an Islanders forward since Kyle Okposo played 28:20 back in 2010, per Eric Hornik’s “The Skinny“.
Barzal and Dobson both set career-high’s in minutes as well, with Barzal on the ice for 25:50 and Dobson out there for 25:57.
The Islanders registered 48 shots on goal, with a total of 89 attempts, missing the net 20 times and having 21 attempts blocked.
The chances were there to win this game, but a lack of finishing wasn’t.
“There’s ebbs and flows in the game and highs and lows. You have to try to weather and not get too high, not get too low, and I think there’s a point where we’re maybe getting too low than we should,” Ryan Pulock said postgame. “And we’re kind of sagging and not playing with enough pressure.”
Pulock wasn’t done.
“There’s just moments where we need to be more desperate and be on top of our toes the whole time and not sit back and wait,” he said. “I think we’re getting caught. We’re all sitting back a little bit, and we’re just… that’s not us. That’s not how we have success.”
Talk is cheap, especially when you are a professional athlete, and the Islanders are and have been at a point where desperation isn’t an option if they are going to make the postseason.
Lambert, who showed frustration on the bench throughout the game, was disappointed postgame.
“It’s disheartening when you put in an effort and can’t break through and put up enough numbers on the scoreboard,” Lambert said.
The blame is on everyone for the way this season has gone, this losing streak has gone, but on Tuesday night, it’s hard to look and point a finger at Lane Lambert.