NY Islanders showing why Patrick Roy elected for a not-so-quick fix this season

Mar 2, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) celebrates his goal
Mar 2, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) celebrates his goal / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The wins in Dallas and Detroit made you cautiously optimistic that the New York Islanders could come out of Saturday's match-up with the Boston Bruins with two points, but nobody, and I mean nobody, was expecting them to play their most complete and dominant game of the season.

“Nights like this for coaches are fun because everybody played a really good game,” Patrick Roy said after the 5-1 win. “Our guys were on the puck, we were quick to help support each other offensively, but we did the same thing defensively, so I thought we were strong in our end and the offensive zone.”

When Roy was hired on Jan. 20, replacing Lane Lambert, were were all hoping for and expecting the new coach "bump" in play that would push the Islanders up the Metropolitan Division and Easterm Conference Standings. It just didn't happen as quickly as anticipated.

After a 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay last Saturday afternoon, the Islanders stood at 4-5-3 under Roy, below Lambert's pace and still struggling to close out games. Although some of the micro stats were trending in the right direction, the team's penalty kill was still dreadful, and they were having momentary lapses that allowed two or even three goals in short spans.

They were playing better defensively, allowing less high-danger shots and fewer chances overall, but the results weren't coming. If there was going to be a significant change, it felt as if it would not take hold until next year.

Yet, the last three games and indicating that the team has turned a corner and that the fundamentals, structure and mindset that Roy has been pounding into them since his arrival has started to take hold. "Sometimes you want a great start when a coach comes in and puts a Band-Aid on it, but that’s not how it works," Roy said. "It’s to play the right way, and I think right now, we’re playing the right way."

The "right way" is demonstrated by making quick decisions with the puck and playing a "north-south" game. The team no longer has to think about what they're going to do, and instead are able to react instinctively, the way Roy has preached during practice.

Three straight wins and new energy formed from new line combinations has the Islanders poised to play their best hockey during the final quarter of the season, which may be enough to get them into a playoff spot, something that didn't seem realistic just a week ago.