There was a healthy dose of optimism in the voice of New York Islanders president of hockey operations and general manager Lou Lamoriello as he spoke Monday ahead of the team’s rookie camp, providing several updates after a quiet summer.
First, veteran forward Zach Parise will not be with the team to start the season, and defenseman Alex Romanov‘s status is questionable as he is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Plus, Lamoriello announced the entirety of the Islanders’s coaching staff will be back this year.
That last point makes it so hard to join in on Lamoriello’s positive outlook.
The return of the entire coaching staff, led by head coach Lane Lambert, means that assistant coach John MacLean is back and will likely run the Islanders’s power play once again.
Last season, the Islanders posted the NHL’s third-worst power play, capitalizing on just 15.8% of their chances.
“I’m not concerned about the power play,” Lamoirello said to gathered media at Northwell Health Ice Center. “I think the power play will rebound. We have the ingredients. We all know that the power play’s importance is scoring at the right time. But there’s no question that it wasn’t something that went well [last season]. It’s certainly been a part of a lot of our discussions, but not where it upstaged everything that we have to do.”
Not that the power play upstaged anything, to begin with last year, but rather undermined.
The Islanders made the playoffs last year despite their horrid power play during the regular season, but it proved fatal in their opening-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes. While they held the advantage at even strength in the series, the Islanders scored on just one of their 18 chances on the man advantage.
No one shoulders that blame alone, but the Islanders are returning this season with the same coaching and personnel that wildly underperformed a year ago.
So what will change? What will give this power play the kickstart it could never find last season?
“We had a new coaching staff. We had some situations where people were in and out,” Lamoriello said. “We had some veterans that were a question in different areas. I think we’re going in right now knowing exactly who we are and exactly what everybody is capable of doing. And it’s our job to hold them accountable.”
That accountability will need to be implemented quickly this year. If the Islanders’s power play struggles endure, there won’t be another playoff spot despite but an early summer summer vacation as a result.