An Expected Firing and An Unexpected Replacement
Article written by John Pagnotta
Photo Credit: nhl.com
Lane Lambert being fired from an underperforming New York Islanders team was not so much of a surprise, but HOF goalie Patrick Roy as his replacement? That was a huge shock from the Isles and 81 yr old president/GM Lou Lamoriello as his firing of Lambert was definitely due…
Lambert’s record with the Islanders in one and a half seasons was 61-46-20. This isn’t a terrible record, but it isn’t great when factoring in the talent on the Isles. The team barely made the playoffs last season with a 42-31-9 record (93 pts) and the team rode off Lambert’s message as they consistently came back in games and were led by Ilya Sorokin’s tremendous play. This season has been a different story. The team has had incredible highs (an 11/12 game point streak, a top PP unit, a scoring tear throughout December), but that has been marked by lots of inconsistency (on both ends), losing streaks (7 games in November, 1-6-0 in their last seven), a horrendous PK, and their inability to hold leads. In addition, their defense has given up way too many shots (35 a game), which is absolutely unacceptable. Sorokin hasn’t been himself so far (13-11-9, 3.21 GAA, .908 SV), but the Islanders’ porous defense has completely left him to dry in the majority of games.
Lambert also had some mind-boggling choices with his lines. After F Casey Cizikas got injured and was placed on IR, he separated his 2 best forwards, Barzal and Horvat, and moved Barzal down to the 3rd line while moving Simon Holmstrom to the 1st line. Remember, this is not an insanely offensive team like Edmonton, who can separate McDavid and Drasitatl. The Islanders are a bottom 10 team in goals per game (2.93). Another example is the treatment for Pierre Engvall. 27 yr old Engvall hasn’t been anything to write home about (5-9-14 in 41 GP), and was benched twice this season by Lambert after turnovers in the previous games. A much older and slower Matt Martin inexplicably lost the Isles a point in Nashville and stayed in the lineup the next game. It was those choices that made fans want Lambert gone multiple times throughout the season.
Photo Credit: theScore.com
Lamoriello went with Patrick Roy as the Isles’ new head coach (notice that there’s no “interim” next to that). Roy was known as a fiery, passionate, and strict coach in his tenure with the Colorado Avalanche and the QMJHL. He had a 130-92-24 record with the Avs and won the Jack Adams in the 2013-14 season while he finished 524-255-66 with Quebec and won a Memorial Cup and QMJHL Championship. The new coach was arguably the best goalie in NHL history, as he was an 11x All Star, won 3 Vezinas, 5 William Jennings, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006. Islanders fans should hope that this hiring can lead to a spark and the team climbing back into the playoff race after falling into 6th place in the Metro Division. Furthermore, Roy can potentially help Ilya Sorokin regain his form after a mediocre performance throughout the regular season.