New York Islanders vs. Dallas Stars Pick & Prediction JANUARY 21st 2024

On Friday night, Lane Lambert said the New York Islanders were not “anywhere near where (they) can or should be,” the coach said following a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The franchise decision-makers agreed with him, firing Lambert on Saturday. Now, the challenge of fixing the Islanders is a task for Patrick Roy.

The Hockey Hall of Fame member will make his Islanders’ head-coaching debut Sunday night when skidding New York opposes the Dallas Stars in the opener of a two-game homestand in Elmont, N.Y.

In Lambert’s finale Friday night, the Islanders scored twice in the third period before falling to the Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime. The Stars, meanwhile, will complete a back-to-back road set after earning a 6-2 win Saturday night over the New Jersey Devils.

The New York loss completed a winless four-game trip (0-3-1) for the Islanders, who have lost 12 of 17 (5-8-4) since Dec. 15 to fall into 11th place in the Eastern Conference and two points behind the second wild card, the Detroit Red Wings.

Climbing out of holes is nothing new for the Islanders, who endured a 2-8-3 stretch last January before making the playoffs in Lambert’s first season and followed up a seven-game losing streak (0-4-3) in November by winning nine of their next 12 games (9-1-2).

But in replacing Lambert with Roy, general manager Lou Lamoriello said Saturday he was concerned with the inconsistency displayed by New York, which has been outscored 64-46 over the last 17 games.

“You come to that point,” Lamoriello said. “There is always a line — a fine line. And that fine line, in my mind, was crossed, so this was the time to do it.”

Roy won four Stanley Cups and earned the Vezina Trophy three times as the NHL’s top goalie during a 19-year career before a three-season stint as the Colorado Avalanche’s head coach from 2013-16. Most recently, he spent the previous five seasons coaching the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League.

He said Saturday he recognizes the urgency of the situation for the Islanders, who haven’t won a postseason series since 2021.

“It’s playoff hockey for the Islanders from now on,” Roy said. “When you’ve got to catch three to four teams in front of you, you cannot approach (games) like a regular-season game. That’s the mentality we have to have.”

The playoff possibilities look far more promising for the Stars, who are in third place in the Central Division with 59 points and eight points ahead of the Nashville Predators, who occupy the second Western Conference wild-card spot.

The Stars continued to display a knack for bouncing back Saturday, when they responded to Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers by scoring six unanswered goals before the Devils collected a pair of goals in the final 6:45 of the third.

The Stars are 13-4-1 following a loss this season. Dallas has lost more than two straight games just once and has won five of seven (5-2-0) since its three-game skid from Jan. 2-6.

“We usually answer pretty well when we don’t play well,” said Stars forward Roope Hintz, who scored twice Saturday. “I think it’s most mental, and then of course you have to execute on the ice, too. It starts with good preparation mentally when you’re ready to play, and we were today.”

–Field Level Media

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