Barzal, Islanders moving forward with Lambert as coach

HENDERSON, Nev. — Mathew Barzal mentioned having a brand new coach in Lane Lambert may very well be simply what the New York Islanders want.

Lambert was employed as coach on May 16, per week after Barry Trotz was fired following his fourth season with New York.

“Barry was nice. Not a foul phrase to say,” Barzal mentioned Thursday. “But I believe with teaching adjustments, generally you simply want a brand new voice, generally you simply want a recent face.”

Barzal, talking on the NHL North American Player Media Tour at Lifeguard Arena, mentioned the truth that Lambert has been an Islanders assistant the previous 4 seasons is a giant assist in the transition.

“I believe all of us have good relations with him as a result of he was ours [associate] coach the final couple years and he has the respect of the room, and that is a giant factor when a brand new coach is available in,” Barzal, a middle, mentioned. “So, I believe he’ll do an incredible job. I’m trying forward to it, and yeah, I believe it should be good.”

The Islanders had been 37-35-10 final season, failing to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs after reaching the semifinal spherical in every of the earlier two seasons. Barzal mentioned their struggles had been primarily attributable to man-games misplaced to COVID-19, not the affect of a 13-game season-opening street stretch earlier than moving into UBS Arena in Elmont, New York. The killer, he mentioned, was an 0-8-3 stretch from Nov. 7-Dec. 5.

Forward Josh Bailey examined optimistic Nov. 16, and 6 extra gamers — forwards Anders Lee, Casey Cizikas and Ross Johnstonand defensemen Adam Pelech, Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene — had been in NHL COVID-19 protocol by Nov. 27.

“[The road stretch] wasn’t nice, however it wasn’t horrible,” Barzal mentioned. “It was COVID that was brutal for us. In the NHL, you possibly can’t have eight of your starters out and count on to be a contending group, you already know what I imply? So, it was arduous for 11 video games. I used to be in each certainly one of them. It was brutal. We had been getting shut out each different recreation. It was powerful.”

Barzal completed tied with middle Brock Nelson for the Islanders lead in factors final season with 59, together with 15 objectives, which was fourth on the group and his NHL profession low.

The 25-year-old mentioned he doesn’t really feel exterior stress to carry out higher this season, somewhat, he places it on himself to raise his recreation, and in flip, his group.

“I really feel like I all the time put that stress on myself regardless,” Barzal mentioned. “I really feel like to ensure that us to be good, I’ve to be among the many high gamers within the League. I really feel like I simply did not do it constantly sufficient final yr. I felt like there have been simply sure issues that simply did not go proper and simply did not really feel nice about it.

“At the tip of the day, it is a group recreation, and I simply know that when I’m enjoying nicely, I do know we now have a greater likelihood.”

Barzal can develop into a restricted free agent on the finish of this season. He wouldn’t say if contract negotiations have begun however made it clear he needs to remain with New York.

“I like Long Island, so it is someplace I’d like to remain,” Barzal mentioned. “I wish to be there. It’s clearly a enterprise, however on the finish of the day, I like Long Island. So, if we will make it truthful and either side are completely happy, then I’d signal it tomorrow.”

But now, he mentioned, the main focus is on getting the Islanders again to the postseason.

“I believe for us, it is about simply entering into the playoffs,” Barzal mentioned. “Like that is going to be key for us as a result of we really feel like we now have a playoff group. We have a very good construction. We have gamebreakers and you already know, it is nearly entering into the playoffs.”

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