NY Islanders coach report card: Did Lane Lambert deserve a lot of criticism?

New York Islanders v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Two
New York Islanders v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Two / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages

Head coaching is always a touchy subject to fans when their team doesn't bode well. Even though the New York Islanders made the playoffs this year, fans voiced their displeasure with how rookie head coach Lane Lambert handled things. It was a rocky first season for Lambert, and following a future Hall of Fame coach in Barry Trotz is never an easy task; especially for someone in their first season.

*Read our previously published player report cards:

-Sebastian Aho | Josh Bailey | Mathew Barzal | Samuel Bolduc | Casey Cizikas | Cal Clutterbuck |Noah Dobson | Pierre Engvall | Hudson Fasching | Simon Holmstrom | Bo Horvat | Ross Johnston |Anders Lee | Matt Martin | Scott Mayfield | Brock Nelson | J.G. Pageau Kyle Palmieri | Zach Parise | Alexander Romanov | Ryan Pulock |Ilya Sorokin|Semyon Varlamov|Parker Wotherspoon

NY Islanders 2022-23 report card: Lane Lambert

When looking at the Islanders record of 42-31-9 and comparing it to last years disappointment, one would think this season was a success. Right out the gate, Lambert instilled a gameplan which allowed the Islanders to be more offensively free, and not as structured. Defensive numbers early on looked highly uncharacteristic for Islander hockey, but many times goalie Ilya Sorokin bailed them out.

Then came the trouble. While holding a spot in the playoffs for the first half of the season, it seemed like everything started to fall apart. The Islanders lost Adam Pelech, Kyle Palmieri, Oliver Wahlstrom, Mathew Barzal, and Cal Clutterbuck all to injury, and each played a significant role on the team. It put Lambert in an impossible situation, and it showed - losing 10 out of 13 games in January, and ultimately losing their position in the playoffs.

New York Islanders Training Camp
New York Islanders Training Camp / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

This allowed the Islanders to revert back to their Trotzian defensive structure that boded them so well in years past. After acquiring Bo Horvat via trade on January 30, the team felt a spark and didn't go pointless for more than two games. It also helped them solidify a playoff spot on one of the final days of the regular season, something that seemingly was out of reach a few months ago.

It was clear the team needed a change, and once they got it, they thrived. For most of Lambert's shortcomings, it should actually be attested to the mismanagement of the roster during the offseason. Lambert took on an aging roster who has seemingly gotten worse since their two playoff runs in 2020 and 2021. It's truly astounding that this team made the playoffs considering the disastrous run they had in January. While there are aspects of Lambert's coaching that didn't reach the fans in a positive way (mainly the power play), he deserves a B+ for how he handled adversity.