John Tavares was probably the Isles most consistent forward through the first two games of the season. On Thursday night against Dwayne Roloson and the Tampa Bay Lightning, he scored enough points to make up for not having any through those games.
Tavares scored two goals and two assists as the Isles went on to beat the Lightning 5-1. Matt Moulson, P.A. Parenteau and Michael Grabner scored the others.
Throughout the first few games of the season, Tavares has shown an improved strength and an ability to power to the net even with opposing defenders on him. In this game, his vision was unbelievable as he made some nice tape to tape passes.
His first goal was put in by Victor Hedman, but his shot sort of caught Roloson off guard as he was unable to catch it in his glove.
Defensively, the Isles had it together for the most part. They did a great job of matching lines with the Lightning, and containing Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos. Al Montoya made a number of great saves to continue his hot start here in the early goings. The thing that's been standing out to me is his post-to-post movements.
Grabner scored a goal that really would have gone in anyway off of a shot by Kyle Okposo. Hopefully it can open up the floodgates of sorts for both players. Grabner has had some problems getting into those scoring areas that made him so successful last season, and hasn't been able to get any good chances on breakaways. Teams will be focusing in on him more, so if everyone on the line begins to step it up then the Isles will be a better team for it down the road.
On the defensive side of things, as forwards go the Islanders PKers stood out, specifically Marty Reasoner. In 5-on-5 play, Reasoner even had a couple of nice offensive rushes and chances. It's always good to see those on lower lines show the ability to have strong two-way games.
Matt Martin was his usual physical self but also had some nice offensive moments. He seems to be getting better with his conditioning as time goes on.
This is the Islander effort we've been waiting for. Until this game, we had only seen it in spurts. Somewhere in there, there's a rant about the short preseason schedule and having a week in between games but you guys have heard that song and dance enough times from us.
I would expect the Isles to keep riding Montoya for as long as he keeps going. The guy is not being penetrated for more than one or two goals a game, which is the same story he ended last season with. Congrats to him for taking this opportunity and running with it.
Now another tough test in the New York Rangers on Saturday night. Would be shocked if it's anyone but Montoya in there.
A side note: I like what Mark Streit has done with the three stars celebration. For those who are unaware, he has all the players line up outside of the gate to congratulate the stars of the game. The game ops people then give t-shirts to the players to hand out to those who stayed. I think it's a neat touch.
What went through my mind while watching this last night was that the Islanders have had an offseason of excitement and disappointment. It's like it's their way of saying "we know what happened, we know Nassau County was unable to see the forest for the trees. But it's OK, cause we know you guys care and support us." Pretty cool.