January 31, 2012

Tavares Picks Up Where He Left Off

I didn't get a chance to write over the weekend as it was happening, but John Tavares did a fantastic job of representing the Islanders in Ottawa during the All-Star break. He had some neat moves in the shootouts on Saturday during the Skills Competition, and was one of the final shooters in the last breakaway portion of the event.

During the actual game on Sunday, he notched a goal and an assist, albeit in a losing effort for Team Alfredsson.

Everyone had nothing but great things to say about the stud forward. Pierre McGuire was particularly complementary, and in his interviews with Tavares continuously brought up his play this season along with the rest of his line, Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo.

After all of that, the Islanders had to regroup and play a road game in Carolina after a week off. Apparently, this was no big deal for Tavares.

Tavares just went on and did what he's normally done this season. He was a huge part in carrying his team to victory (with a little help from Kevin Poulin) with four points and two goals. The first goal came with the Isles reeling after Carolina had tied the game at two. Tavares capitalized on a miscue by Cam Ward, Bryan Allen and Tim Gleason and put home a loose puck in the slot area.

Aside from generally making things happen, Tavares was able to bring some nostalgia to Isles fans. By notching his 50th point of the season in tonight's game, Tavares became the first Islanders player with three straight seasons of 50 points or more since Mariusz Czerkawski (1999-2002). He's also moved into the top-5 in overall scoring for the entire league.

Moulson, Okposo and P.A. Parenteau also scored. Unfortunately, once again it was the same characters getting it done for the Isles and not any of the secondary scorers.

However, there were plenty of chances from the other guys. Michael Grabner had a few nice rushes, including a breakaway that he was stopped on once again. Rhett Rakhshani, who was called up and played over Brian Rolston, was excellent on a line with Matt Martin and Josh Bailey. They were really quick and had some nice scoring opportunities.

Defensively, the Isles were tight to start off. By the time the third period came around, the wheels did fall off a bit for a few minutes before the Isles were able to regain the lead and regroup. Mark Streit, who had another rough game, only saw just over 17 minutes of ice-time.

Poulin really only had one mishap as he was way out of the net for Carolina's second goal. He had thought he laid on top of the puck, but was mistaken. Aside from that he was solid and really made some huge saves to preserve the Isles win. He finished with 21 overall.

Unfortunately the teams ahead of the Isles all pretty much got points, which is something that they obviously didn't need. They'll have a little more ground to make up most likely by the next time they play, which is Friday in Ottawa.

More to come with thoughts on the Brooklyn pre-season game.



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