CALGARY, Alberta — Lou Lamoriello wasn’t precisely defiant, however on the afternoon of Aug. 22, it was not less than clear he felt the narrative surrounding his workforce’s offseason missed the mark.
Throughout a information convention to announce contracts for Noah Dobson and Kieffer Bellows, in addition to introduce Alexander Romanov, Lamoriello spent a lot of his time defending the dearth of strikes to improve the roster over the summer time.
“I really feel excellent about this hockey workforce,” he stated.
“Generally a number of the greatest transactions to make are those you don’t make,” he added, a couple of minutes later.
And in his final remarks of the day: “We’d have made drastic adjustments final yr if we didn’t be ok with the group we’ve got and what we’re able to doing. I say that with comfortability. I say that with confidence. I’m trying ahead to getting again at it and possibly proving all people unsuitable.”
Lou LamorielloGetty Pictures
After the Islanders completed off the primary half of the season with a disastrous 1-3-0 street journey via the Pacific Division, it’s getting more durable and more durable to see them proving Lamoriello proper. They’re nonetheless in a playoff spot as of Saturday morning and will but make the postseason. However a wild-card berth and a first-round playoff loss being spun as constructive would solely go to indicate how far this group has fallen in simply two seasons.
The ahead group Lamoriello didn’t improve in a significant approach over the summer time nonetheless has all the identical issues as final season, even with Mathew Barzal having taken a significant step ahead and Brock Nelson persevering with to supply at a excessive degree. Not sufficient talent. Not sufficient scoring.
That turned particularly clear in Friday’s 4-1 loss to the Flames, when the Islanders spent all 60 minutes looking for solutions after Barzal turned a late scratch. It’s not an overstatement to say it’s laborious to see how they’ll survive if Barzal’s lower-body damage retains him out for any severe time frame — that’s how necessary he’s to the Islanders’ offense.
When the Islanders can get pucks deep, forecheck and play inside coach Lane Lambert’s system, it really works. However producing offense by way of managed breakouts and entries has been a difficulty all yr, and is on the coronary heart of their struggles on the facility play. Wish to know why they’ve scored twice on their previous 36 energy performs? As a result of the Islanders are at their greatest when they’re making an attempt to get the puck again — not after they truly possess it.
Requested about that dichotomy after Thursday’s 4-2 debacle in Edmonton, Lambert stated, briefly, that his workforce didn’t forecheck sufficient towards the Oilers, itself an admission of one-dimensionality.
“You flip the puck over they usually come again at you,” he stated. “You additionally should handle the sport properly and be good about who you’re enjoying. I believed we didn’t get [the puck] into areas [Friday]. Their goaltender performs the puck properly. Early on, they broke the puck out a bit too simply.”
An evening later, it was the identical subject in Calgary, and the Islanders walked away with a loss to indicate for it. It’s true that accidents — notably Adam Pelech’s — have contributed to the problems, however each workforce suffers accidents, and the Islanders have been one of many luckier teams within the league in that class.
The accidents have uncovered an absence of organizational depth greater than anything. Signing Hudson Fasching over the summer time appears shrewd on Lamoriello’s half, however that’s about it.
Neither Josh Bailey nor Anthony Beauvillier have stepped up in the way in which the Islanders want, and the 2 mix for $9.15 million towards the wage cap. The members of the Id Line usually are not going to make up for lack of scoring, and Cal Clutterbuck has struggled to remain wholesome.
Ross Johnston, in the meantime, has performed solely as a final resort a yr after signing a four-year, $4.4 million extension. Bellows hit waivers after enjoying one sport. Aatu Raty could also be a participant on this league finally, however he’s nonetheless incomes the belief of the workers, and if Barzal misses just a few extra video games, the Islanders may find yourself utilizing up a yr of his entry-level deal to place a Band-Help on the wound.
If they will’t string collectively some wins at residence over the following two weeks, when six of their subsequent seven video games shall be at UBS Enviornment, will probably be a full-blown catastrophe. Who is aware of what Lamoriello will do then.
Bear in mind, although, this season shouldn’t be a referendum on the first-year head coach. It displays immediately on the final supervisor.