One could tell where the head of Lane Lambert was at when he slammed the away bench shut in Montreal following the New York Islanders’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Canadiens on Saturday.
Just a few days prior, he was seen shaking his head on the bench in a 6-5 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, and followed that up with barely any type of answers during his postgame media session.
For most of the season, that fiery response was absent from Lambert. Behind closed doors, he likely let his frustrations be known to his players and fellow coaches, but the emotion wasn’t there in the light of day.
Now, that is likely by design, as Barry Trotz wore his emotions on his sleeve, and if they wanted a Barry Trotz-type coach, they would have kept Trotz around.
Whether Lane Lambert is feeling the pressure from upper management or just the frustration that comes with blowing games left and right, his players, we got to see him in a way we hadn’t seen him before since taking over the head coaching gig.
In most practices, Lambert leads, but other voices are present, like assistant coach John MacLean when the team is working on the power play or Doug Houda when working with the defenseman.
On Monday, it was all Lambert, who was adamant about what he wanted to see from his group, and if he didn’t see it, the drill was stopped, and examples were made.
“I thought we had a really good, competitive practice today. Guys are corrected, whether it be on the ice or in the video room. It’s not just one person in particular, and that’s coaching,” Lambert said. “What we had today was we had a practice.
“There’s practice days, and then there’s days where you’re skating in between three in four. You’re trying to just maybe accomplish something for the next opponent, but there’s not a lot of what I call practice days, based on the schedule. Today was one of those practice days. I think we’ve only had five of them since December 1. So those are important days for us to continue to be reminded of our detail.”
From calling out Noah Dobson on a drill or two to making sure Alexander Romanov understood he was too far back defending the rush to letting Jean-Gabriel Pageau know there was a smarter play he could have made on the power play, Lambert acted the part.
Lambert walking defensemen through their mistakes on boxing out, wanting the box out to happen immediately: pic.twitter.com/dMAwztjGcj
— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) February 13, 2023
He did exactly what you are looking for from the admiral on the ice, and his players, who in the moment may not have liked it, certainly appreciated it after the fact.
“Yeah, 100 percent,” Adam Pelech told NYI Hockey Now about how critical it was for Lambert to be as vocal and hard on the team today, especially on working on their net-front issues. “It’s a crucial part of the game because that’s where goals are scored, right, so we have to be hard in that area.”
We asked Matt Martin the same question.
“Yeah, for sure. There’s areas of our game that we need to be better in,” Martin said. “You watch practice, you saw there’s a lot of boxing out, a lot of two-on-two’s, situational things that we need to clean up to be more effective because overall we’re playing good hockey.”
“It’s just…we got to do some of the other things a little better to help us secure wins.”
Newcomer Bo Horvat, who has been a member of the Islanders for exactly two weeks now, liked the fieriness from Lambert and the practice that came with it.
“It was great,” Horvat said. “A lot of times, you need those practices, those competitive practices where you’re battling, mimicking game situations, so today was one of those days.”
The New York Islanders have one more game against an underwhelming opponent Tuesday night when they host the Ottawa Senators.
From there, the Islanders then have a back-to-back against the Pittsburgh Penguins (home) and Boston Bruins Friday and Saturday before they are in Pittsburgh Tuesday.
Sometimes you can get away with sloppiness against the bad teams, which the Islanders failed to do the last two days, but against these tougher opponents, those mistakes end up in the back of your net at a significantly higher rate.
Lambert made sure those details were paid attention to at practice, and now he needs to see his players go out and play as they practiced.
“It’s part of the game,” Noah Dobson said. “We’re all grown-ups around here where we can take a beating when it’s needed […] So I think that was the main message, just making sure we’re taking care of our details…”
Islanders Mistakes Start with Boxing Out, Subject of Monday’s Practice