Under the direction of Barry Trotz, while he was the bench boss of the NY Islanders, the defensive system was always a point of emphasis and a significant part of their back-to-back semi-final runs. Moving on from Trotz in favor of his right-hand man in Lane Lambert, the system remained partially in place, especially while the offense struggled after Mat Barzal's injury last season.
This season, Lambert seems to have moved further away from the system played under Trotz, as the Isles are playing more of a wide-open game. With the goaltending tandem of Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov, it's been assumed the Isles could open the game up more, as their world-class goaltenders would pick up the slack.
Sorokin has been good in goal this season but hasn't played up to the extraordinary standards expected from him, especially after finishing runner-up for the Vezina Trophy last season.
Injuries to the defense, most notably Adam Pelech, have forced the Islanders to play a mishmash of defensemen while awaiting their top defenseman's return.
The Isles have faired well without Pelech and Ryan Pulock, but against the Vegas Golden Knights Saturday night, they were exposed early and often. Multiple defensive lapses led directly to goals, putting the Isles in a hole they were unable to climb out of.
According to Stefan Rosner of The Hockey News, Lambert emphasized defensive structure during the Islander short practice today in hopes of remedying their lapses in judgment in Sin City.
Pelech has been rotating in with the defense over the past few practices but hasn't returned to game action.
"He's [Pelech] getting close," said Lambert regarding the return of his star defenseman impending return. "I couldn't confirm when exactly that will be, but it's nice to see him out there."
The addition of Mike Reilly has added another element of offense from the blue line that'll likely keep him in the lineup as long as he's healthy, so that leaves either Sebastian Aho or Samuel Bolduc to be sacrificed in favor of Pelech.
Pelech has been the backbone of the organization for the last five seasons and will be a welcomed addition to the team once he's ready to go. Defense hasn't been an issue for this Islanders team in recent years, but with the penalty kill ranking as one of the league's worst and the frequent mistakes made in their own zone, Pelech will certainly help plug some of those holes.