Head coach Lane Lambert of the New York Islanders looks...

Head coach Lane Lambert of the New York Islanders looks on against the New York Rangers at UBS Arena on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022 in Elmont, New York. Credit: Jim McIsaac

DALLAS — The Islanders are nearly a quarter of the way into their season, meaning it’s time to remove the descriptor “new” from in front of coach Lane Lambert. He’s no longer the promoted associate coach who worked closely with predecessor Barry Trotz the past 11 seasons.

He has put his own stamp on the Islanders.

“I know him to say, ‘Hi,’ but I haven’t had any interactions with him,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “It was always Barry in Washington. Barry on the Island. But you can see. The defensemen are more active in the offensive zone. They’re playing more aggressive in some areas. But they still have that identity where they’re not doing it recklessly and they’re still really tough defensively and they get good goaltending.”

Lambert first joined Trotz’s staff in Nashville in 2011 and while the two had a long working relationship, they certainly present opposite personalities. Trotz is endlessly chatty. Lambert is much more buttoned-down in his public comments, a willing practitioner of president and general manager Lou Lamoriello’s belief that the less information made available about the team, the better it is for the team.

And that’s not a new public persona for him. Media in Detroit who covered Lambert in the mid-1980s when he broke into the NHL with the Red Wings recalled him as a reticent talker as a player.

“The preparation is exceptional,” Lamoriello said of the Islanders coaching staff, which includes assistants Doug Houda and John MacLean. “Each one has won a Stanley Cup. They know the price you have to pay each and every day. They transmit that to the players and the players believe in them, which is the most important thing.”

But Lambert’s reserved nature in public does not mean he is quiet within the confines of the team.

“I would say he’s a fiery guy,” Predators defenseman Roman Josi, who first played for Lambert with that organization’s AHL affiliate in Milwaukee, told the Islanders’ team website. “He’s definitely intense. You get him off the rink, he’s a very funny guy. Very kind. You know what he’s getting. He’s very fair to everyone. But he’s definitely fiery once in a while, too, which is great. I think that’s what the team needs sometimes.”

For Lambert, it’s just about treating his players the way he wanted to be treated as a player.

“They just need honesty and as long as you’re up front and frank with them, whether it be something they want to hear or not, at least they understand and they appreciate that,” Lambert said. “As long as a player knows what’s expected of him, there aren’t any surprises.”

Farm report

A 4-1 loss to Charlotte on Friday night left Bridgeport, the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, with a 7-3-3-0 mark and winless in its last four after starting the season 6-1-1-0.

Still, Lamoriello was bullish on Bridgeport’s performance so far.

“I think we’ve got an excellent group there,” Lamoriello said. “We’ve got a perfect blend of veterans who are quality and character people who teach the younger players that we’ve got there. We’ve got a half a dozen young players that will play in the [NHL]. At what point I couldn’t say that. But we’re pleased from goaltending out.”
Prospect William Dufour, who had four goals and one assist in his first 12 games, was a healthy scratch on Friday as Nikita Soshnikov, 29, joined the lineup after being loaned from the Islanders this week once he cleared waivers.

From the pod

Center Jean-Gabriel Pageau entered Saturday’s play 11th in the NHL in faceoff win percentage at 58.7 (200-of-341). He discussed his faceoff techniques and how he tries to help his wings and defensemen to help him by letting them know where the puck is headed on episode 147 of Island Ice, Newsday’s Islanders’ podcast.

“I think a lot of centers do it,” Pageau said. “I think it’s very important to let your linemates know where the puck is going to go. Because there’s a lot of faceoffs and it’s hard to focus on every draw and what is the center going to do? Is he going to tie you up and kick up that side or is he just going to sweep it on my strong side. It just makes it easier for them. The same thing in our defensive zone. When I take draws I try to tell our goalie if I’m going to win it toward them just to not surprise them and score on my own goal.”

Impressive start

Mathew Barzal entered Saturday night’s game in Dallas nearing the NHL record for most assists before scoring a goal. Where he stood on the all-time list and how the others fared the rest of the season:

Alex Delvecchio (Red Wings, 1969-70) – 22 assists (21 goals, 47 assists)

Martin Erat (Capitals, 2013-14) – 21 assists (one goal, 23 assists)

Andrew Cassels (Whalers, 1995) – 20 assists (seven goals, 30 assists)

Mathew Barzal (Islanders, 2022-23) – 19 assists


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