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The Islanders Need A Fire, Patrick Roy Is The Perfect Spark

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AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

New York Islanders fans had seen enough of Lane Lambert months ago.

They had enough blown leads, overtime losses and results far below what this team is capable of. But that never mattered.

It only mattered once Lou Lamoriello had enough. On Saturday, the Islanders president of hockey operations and general manager reached that point and fired Lambert from his head coaching position after a year and a half of service.

With an overall record of 61-46-21 and a playoff appearance, the Islanders’ results under Lambert weren’t an outright failure, but they were far from successful.

The fire of a team that had once overachieved with runs to back-to-back conference finals was smothered by inconsistency and complacency.

“I felt that the inconsistency that has been going on for some period of time was not going to end,” Lamoriello said. “It’s always a tough decision. I have tremendous respect for Lane, but right now, we have to get back on track.”

Lambert’s last game as head coach of the Islanders came Friday night, an overtime loss to the lowly Chicago Blackhawks to cap off a disappointing four-game road trip without a win and only a single point. Since returning from the NHL’s holiday break, the Islanders are 3-7-2 stretch and with a goal differential of -17.

To light a fire under the team once again, Lamoriello brought in a person who certainly knows how to light a spark as the team’s new head coach; Patrick Roy.

“Whenever you talk about any individual, the primary is you have to be able to coach, and Patrick can flat-out coach,” Lamoriello said. “As far as Patrick’s personality, he’s fiery, he loves the game. He’s got a passion, and I think it’s great. I think it’s going to be great for all the players. He loves the game, and you have to love this game if you want to be successful.”

The Hall of Fame goaltender wore his heart on his sleeve and was a fierce competitor during his playing days. He had that same energy with him in his first stint as an NHL head coach when he headed the Colorado Avalanche from 2013-2016.

After a return to the junior circuit as the head coach of QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts for five years, it doesn’t appear that part of Roy’s personality has mellowed out in the slightest as he returns to the NHL with the Islanders.

“Let’s not kid ourselves; we’re looking at the position we are in now, and we’re all going to agree it’s playoff hockey for the Islanders from now on,” Roy said. “Every game you play, there are huge points when you have to catch up to three or four teams in front of you. You cannot approach those games like a regular season game. That’s playoff hockey, and that’s the mentality that I hope our players will play.”

With 49 points, the Islanders sit two points out of a playoff spot. Although the race in the Eastern Conference is highly competitive, Lamoriello’s decision to hire Roy shows he still believes the Islanders can still get there despite their underwhelming play thus far. Now the question becomes, do the Islanders still think so?

“You don’t make a decision like this if you do not feel like [you can make the playoffs],” Lamoriello said. “It’s no different than when the trade deadline comes. You don’t make a move unless you feel that your team has an opportunity to win or it can help you get in the playoffs. In my opinion, that is exactly what this is for. Now we have to put it on the players. We know what Patrick will bring to them. Now, it’s what the players will bring to us.”

The Islanders will get their first chance to show Roy what they’re made of when they face the Dallas Stars on Sunday night at UBS Arena.

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