CALGARY, Alberta — One of the oldest cliches in sports is that coaches are hired to be fired.
And, certainly, Lane Lambert’s job security has been called into question as the Islanders brought an 0-4-3 skid into Saturday night’s finale of their four-game Western swing against the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.
But an equally-as-old cliché is that coaches don’t fret that kind of talk. President/general manager Lou Lamoriello did not travel with the Islanders but he and Lambert have been in constant communication as usual.
“I’ve talked to him a lot on the trip,” Lambert said. “We haven’t talked about my job status.”
The super-secretive Lamoriello keeps any of his planned moves well hidden so none of the speculation about Lambert’s status has come from him.
Lambert said blocking out the outside chatter about his job status was “easy.”
“You just focus on what you can do and what you can control,” Lambert said. “Our team is playing hard. We’ve given up one five-on-five goal this trip. There’s a lot of positives in this game we’re playing. That’s all you can do is worry about what you can control and that’s how our team plays. That’s it.”
The Islanders entered Saturday’s match off a 4-3 eight-round shootout loss to the Kraken on Wednesday as the hosts went 3-for-4 on the power play. The Canucks were 3-for-6 on the man advantage in the Islanders’ 4-3 overtime loss the night before. The trip started with a 4-1 loss to the Oilers on Monday as the Islanders were 1-for-3 on the penalty kill.
But Lambert pushed back against the narrative the Islanders were struggling, noting their 3-4-4 mark since Oct. 26.
“Sometimes you’ve got to get kicked in the gut a couple of more times, which we did in Seattle and Vancouver,” Lambert said. “We want the two points. We need the two points, we know that. We’ve collected points in seven of 11 games. You can’t tell me this hockey team hasn’t been in games. So that part of it I’m pretty tired of hearing about.”
The Islanders went through a similar slump last season, Lambert’s first after being promoted to replace the fired Barry Trotz. The Islanders went 2-8-3 in January, including a 1-3-0 mark on their Western swing against the Kraken, Canucks, Oilers and Flames. At the time, Lambert’s players praised the way he kept the team focused and kept them from getting frustrated.
The same is true now.
“He’s showing a lot of confidence in his players,” Jean-Gabriel Pageau said. “I think that’s big from our side just to see that the coaching staff has confidence in us. You go through those stretches every year and it’s good that we have it right now.”
Pageau added he’s unaware of any speculation regarding Lambert’s job security.
“I don’t really go on social media,” Pageau said. “We try to focus on what’s happening in the locker room and how we can be better on the ice. That’s what everyone is trying to do right now.”
Hudson Fasching said Lambert’s message to the team that it is playing well has remained consistent.
“I don’t think there’s any panic in the room at all,” Fasching said. “When things go wrong, you’ve got to trust what you know best. That is what I like about him. He understands that and he knows we have to get back to what we’re good at and stay with that. He stays pretty calm through the whole thing. You look to your coaches to see what the mood in the room is. No one is freaking out by any means.”