Islanders slow start raising questions: ‘We’ve got to lock it down here soon’

Islanders Panthers
Florida Panthers’ Anton Lundell (15) celebrates with teammates and fans after scoring a goal as New York Islanders’ Ryan Pulock, foreground, skates past during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Michael Laughlin)

Two facts can be mutually exclusive when looking at the New York Islanders start to the 2022-23 season.

  1. It’s too early to slap a label on and prescribe them a place in the standings.
  2. Their early lack of production and attention to detail provides quite a red flag. 

The Islanders are 2-4-0 to start the new campaign under Lane Lambert, who has the difficult job of taking an unchanged roster back to the playoffs.

A new system that teased more offensive production thanks to a more supportive defense in the attacking zone has been wildly inconsistent. Twelve of their 19 goals this year have come in two games ― both against two of the worst teams in the Western Conference — while tallying just seven across their other four against quality Eastern Conference opposition.

Lambert has already tinkered with his lineup, scratching established veterans like Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier in consecutive games during an unsuccessful Florida road trip that featured losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

“There’s no concern the right pieces are here,” Lambert said in an attempt to downplay recent decisions. “It’s just a matter of generating the chemistry and if things are not going the way we want to, we have to do something in terms of moving our guys around. They understand that.”

With an attack struggling to click, a team that had been an organized unit under former head coach Barry Trotz now has the fourth-most turnovers this season, per Statmuse, with 78. The defensemen that have been tasked with supporting the offense have left star goalie Ilya Sorokin out to dry, allowing the third-most high-danger scoring chances in the NHL with 59.

It’s a number that needs to be tightened up, especially with their next three games coming against prolific offensive teams in the Rangers on Wednesday, the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday, and the Colorado Avalanche a day later.

“We’re close but at the same time, we’ve got to lock it down here soon,” Lambert said. 

The concept of “close” is objective, especially in the midst of a three-game losing streak. The Islanders Corsi and Fenwick are in the top half of the league. They outshot the Lightning 35-26 and controlled most of the third period against the Panthers after being dominated for the first two.

“Our game is going in the right direction,” captain Anders Lee said. “Not getting the results right now so we have to stick with it, push through this, and get ready for Wednesday.”

For more on the Islanders, visit AMNY.com

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