There are many words that can be used to describe the underwhelming 2021-22 season for the New York Islanders. At the end of the day, a team trending in the right direction, after back-to-back trips to the semi-finals, missed the postseason.
The New York Islanders finished last season with 84 points, 16 points behind the Washington Capitals, who held the second wild-card spot. When we spoke to the players after the season concluded, it was clear that the outcome was unacceptable, regardless of the circumstances.
You can’t forget the past, but as the old saying goes, “the past is in the past.”
First-year head coach Lane Lambert said on Tuesday that all the team can do is move forward, with a clean slate. That clean slate is not just about last season as a collective unit but also on an individual level.
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Despite being on the bench as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders since Barry Trotz was hired in July of 2018, Lambert is giving his players a clean slate.
“I think we have to go that way for sure,” Lambert said. “We’ve had, we’ve had success in the past, you know, and we didn’t make the playoffs last year. That’s the bottom line. So the slate is clean. It’s not looking backwards anymore. It’s about looking forwards completely.”
As for how the organization views the hectic 2021-22 season, there’s no excuse for the outcome after 82 games.
“You can say whatever you want to say, road games or COVID or this or that. There aren’t any excuses. We can’t make any excuses, and that’s why the past is in the past, and we’re gonna move forward.”
“I think there’s a sense from the players of having something to prove. There’s no question about it.”
No team wants to miss the postseason, but for the New York Islanders, not making the postseason in 2022 allowed for them to have their first real off-season. Due to their postseason success in 2020 and 2021, their offseason was cut short, and by the time they headed home for the “summer,” there was not much time to wind down and escape the game mentally and physically.
“First of all, given what had happened last year, and also, you know, we had played a lot of hockey over the last couple of years. So it was a good summer for them to recharge, get some training in, and get ready for training camp,” Lambert said.
“And now everybody’s, you know, just chomping at the bit right now because it’s been a while. And I think there’s a lot of guys if you ask me, they want training camp to start tomorrow.”
Lambert mentioned that he spoke with all his players earlier in the summer.
“I talked to them, but I certainly didn’t interfere with their summer type of thing,” Lambert shared. “You know, it was good for them to get recharged, to understand what was expected throughout the summer coming into training camp, and then from there, it’s just been, you know, it’s been a little while, and I’ve seen every one of them since I’ve gotten back.”
As for if the players voiced anger following last season’s results, Lane got the vibe that that was the case.
“Without saying it, I think there’s a little bit of that, maybe sense in there. Certainly, like I said, we don’t look at the past,” Lambert said. “The focus is to look forward and move forward.”
“Absolutely, you would have to be that way.”
The lack of moves by New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello has showcased his belief in the club. Lane Lambert is comfortable with the group he has here.
“I am very comfortable first of all. Yeah, there’s no question about it. And the reason I’m comfortable in the comfort level is I know we have good players and good people. It’s that simple,” Lambert said. “You know, there’s a lot of talent. There’s a lot of character and, you know, I’m extremely comfortable with what we have.”
The New York Islanders begin training camp on Sept. 21, but prospects will be on the ice Thursday morning. Buckle up as the 2022-23 NHL season will be here before you know it.