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.