3 things to watch for with Patrick Roy the man in charge of the NY Islanders

Nov 11, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy coaches against the New
Nov 11, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy coaches against the New / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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Patrick Roy will make his debut as New York Islanders head coach later tonight in what should be a raucous atmosphere at UBS Arena. Rather than the fans arriving pessimistic and frustrated after a winless four-game road trip, there will be optimism and intrigue filling the building before puck drop against the Dallas Stars.

The hiring of Roy signals a new beginning and a fresh start to a season that is more than halfway over, with the Islanders currently outside of the playoff picture and in desperate need of an infusion of energy and excitement. Roy's presence will bring that and it'll be up to the players to follow through and do their part to turn things around in a hurry.

It'll be less than 48 hours since Roy took the job. He'll be behind the bench, coaching players he is unfamiliar with and being guided by an assistant coaching staff that was brought in by Lane Lambert. Learning on the fly isn't the most reliable way to produce successful results, but it is playoff hockey from here on out for the Islanders. The GM knows it, the players know it, the fans know it, and the coach said it during his introductory conference call.

Roy has the reputation for being passionate, fiery and unapologetically defensive of his players. Those are things you know you're getting with him behind the bench, but here are 3 specific things to watch from Roy as Islanders coach for the remaining of the season.

Structure, Structure, Structure

The Islanders have to clean things up defensively.

The players have been saying that routinely after nearly every loss this season, but win or lose, the trend of high-danger shots, turnovers, and total shots allowed hasn't stopped. Ilya Sorokin has faced the most shots of any goaltender in the league, and the team's inability to guard the slot has been an unforgiving aspect of their games. Hearing media types and fans talk about the Isles as a defensive team is a farce and a signal that they aren't watching the games.

Outside of the two months they played without Mathew Barzal last season, they weren't a structured defensive team under Lambert. They've been a team overly reliant on their goaltending, and players too often appeared unsure of their assignments. If there was one constant refrain from Lambert this season, it was his continued disappointment with the team's puck management. Veterans players, those who should know better, were making poor decisions with the puck at crucial moments. No matter how much it was emphasized, Lambert couldn't put a stop to it.

What Barry Trotz did so well was put players in the right players in the right positions to be productive. For four years, that meant a five-man, four-line system where players made predictable plays that made it simple and easy for their teammates to anticipate where the puck was going next. On nights when you don't have your best legs, having the right positioning and being opportunistic offensively is what will win you games.

By all accounts, Roy's Quebec Remparts were known for their structure. That's especially unique for a team made up of 16 and 17-year-olds. If Roy is able to translate those teachings to NHL players in his second stint as head coach, it will serve the Islanders well.

Lamoriello said it was a feeling that the team's inconsistencies weren't going to stop that led to Lambert's dismissal. Roy's primarily responsibility is to make the Isles more consistent and that's most easily done by installing a reliable and predictable defensive structure.

Relationship with the goaltenders

Ilya Sorokin has appeared in 13 straight games due to the injury of Semyon Varlamov. He's likely to play in his 14th straight tonight versus Dallas, but something is going to have to give if Varlamov is not ready to come back after the All-Star break. The Islanders have four games left before the break, and there are no back-to-backs, meaning it's plausible that Sorokin will remain in the net between now and their final game on Jan. 27. The team won't play again until Feb 5th, giving him time to rest.

While the thought of one of hockey's greatest goaltenders mentoring Sorokin is intriguing and exciting, don't expect Roy to be overly involved in the technical aspects of goaltending. "I don't really interfere in the teaching of goaltender, said Roy. "There's one voice, and that's our goalie coach [Piero Greco], and talking to Lou, he's extremely pleased with the work of our goalie coach; both goalies really love that person."

New Jersey Devils v New York Islanders
New Jersey Devils v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

That doesn't mean he won't lend support to the goalies, but it will be grounded in sharing experiences from his Hall-of-Fame career, one that included four Stanley Cups and three Conn Smythe Trophies. "I can help them on the mental side of the game, said Roy. "What I do if I had a bad night, what I would do if I was on a streak, before a big game, how I would approach [things]."

Varlamov had his best NHL season with Roy as his head coach. He finished second in the Vezina Trophy voting after going 41-14-6 with a sparkling 2.41 GAA and .927 save percentage. “I was really enjoying working with Patrick,” Varly said in 2016. “That was a big deal for me to have him as a head coach. He’s been very helpful."

With Sorokin and Varlamov locked in as the goalie tandem for the next three seasons after this, the positive impact Roy can make on what is already the team's strength will be something to watch.

Fresh Perspective

The common description of the Islanders' dressing room is that it has a "country club" atmosphere. That may be overstated compared to the Jack Capuano and Doug Weight years, but the perception still remains that the players are too close and too comfortable.

With Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck in the final year of their contracts, the fourth line's clock is ticking no matter what. However, you wonder if Roy will not be as committed to keeping the traditional trio together. That decision isn't needed currently, as Casey Cizikas is on Injured Reserve, but if everyone is healthy, it'll be fascinating to see whether the "Identity Line" is still intact under Roy.

New York Islanders v Columbus Blue Jackets
New York Islanders v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

Changes to the lines could be tricky right now as the Islanders are down two forwards, Casey Cizikas and Pierre Engvall. Lately, Oliver Wahlstrom has been the healthy scratch, and Kyle MacLean made his NHL debut in Chicago on Friday night. Fortunately for Kyle, his dad, John, remains part of Roy's staff, presumably for the remainder of the season. Does Wahlstrom get a fresh start under Roy? There are only 37 games left in the season, and the Isles now have multiple teams to jump over in the Eastern Conference. That doesn't allow much time for experimentation.

Roy doesn't know the group too well; he admitted that he's only watched a handful of games. Maybe that's a good thing; he's not coming into this with any predetermined notions as to what this team can and cannot do. During the conference call on Saturday, he said he had some ideas but would share them with the players first and get their input before addressing them with the media.

Things are going to change; you don't make a move like this without expecting or wanting that to be the outcome. How quickly Roy can start to impose his imprint on the organization is anyone's guess, but his hiring should serve as a wake-up call for the entire roster, especially those who don't have their spots in the lineup guaranteed.