Islanders adapting to Patrick Roy’s style quicker than expected 2 games in

Islanders Patrick Roy
New York Islanders coach Patrick Roy, center, calls out to players during the first period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

ELMONT, N.Y. — The silver linings New York Islanders head coach Patrick Roy was taking from his team’s 3-2 loss to the defending Stanley Cup-champion Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night was as wide as the end boards. 

“If we keep progressing like we are right now,” he began, “we’ll win a lot of games.”

In what was just Roy’s second game as head coach after being named Lane Lambert’s replacement on Saturday, the Islanders posted a season-high 42 shots on Golden Knights netminder Adin Hill, who stopped 40 of them.

The team was more direct in its passing — especially in the defensive zone to help cut down on some giveaways, though they were still an issue — more aggressive to get up in the offensive play, and more careful with the puck. As a byproduct, they out-chanced the Knights 27-13 and allowed 27 shots, which was 16 fewer than the 43 they yielded in Roy’s debut 3-2 overtime victory against the Dallas Stars in which they were outplayed for large portions.

“They should be positive. I’m very positive,” Roy said. “I mean, 27-to-13 scoring chances. What can I say? Sometimes the puck just doesn’t go in. We played a good game and we were just not rewarded with it. We have to find a way to put that puck in the net but at the same time, it would be a shame if we had our heads between our legs after a performance like this.

“We looked more like a team that was playing a good game. It was not as scrappy and was more organized.”

Brock Nelson Islanders
Vegas Golden Knights’ Zach Whitecloud (2) defends against New York Islanders’ Brock Nelson (29) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

This is the kind of hockey Roy wants the Islanders to play, rather than the timid, at times nervous brand they exhibited across the final weeks of Lambert’s tenure as head coach. The early days of his tenure have seen him preach a more enterprising offense predicated on a higher shot volume and skilled defensemen who have been given the green light to leave their own net front and join in on the attack.

“We did address it [Tuesday] morning. We want to get 40 shots every night, or over 30 shots every night,” Roy said. “It was a good step in that direction. Now what I want is some consistency… When I met with the guys this morning I said ‘I hope we weren’t satisfied with our performance against Dallas.'”

These are considerable steps the Islanders are taking in the infancy of Roy’s tenure in charge. Tuesday night was just his third day as the team’s head coach and his values have already seemed to have taken hold.

“I would say it’s going faster than I thought,” Roy said. “The way we played [Tuesday], think about it, I got in two days ago. We haven’t had a full practice yet and I’ve seen good things.”

It’s a testament to the weight Roy carries and the reputation he holds. The Hall-of-Fame goalie has won everywhere he’s gone, winning four Stanley Cups as a player and two Memorial Cups during a 13-year head-coaching stint in the QMJHL.

“We’re taking everything he has to offer,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said. “He has a wealth of knowledge. We’re all trying to make a difference here and taking everything we can to be a better hockey team.”

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