January 16, 2011

Tavares Gets Natural Hat Trick as Isles Down Sabres

That's more like it.

The Islanders effort on Saturday night was a ton better than on Thursday against the Senators. It showed not only on the ice for some of the simple plays but also on the scoreboard by night's end.

John Tavares scored a natural hat trick in a span of 5:44 in the second period to help the Islanders defeat Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 on Saturday night.

Obviously, the story of the night was Tavares and how he completely took control of the game and turned it around after the Isles were trailing 1-0. Finally he, Matt Moulson and P.A. Parenteau are playing with some good chemistry. That has been one constant for the past 15 games or so.

The side story was Rick DiPietro, who made 40 saves in his return after an 11 day absence. To me, he looked slow at times in his lateral movement but that was to be expected after suffering that groin injury. It sounds like he was in a lot better shape than he was at practice a couple of days ago.

Michael Grabner also had another strong game, making some nice defensive plays and using his speed to create some chances. He had a nice shot for the Isles 5th goal. He too is gaining more and more confidence coming on the heels of being named as the team's lone representative for All-Star Weekend.

The Islanders seem to be engaging teams in track meets lately, and have generally fared well. I would be weary about this since they are giving up a ton of shots and the defense is getting out of position here and there, but it's what is working right now. There is some learning on the fly involved as the team brings along Travis Hamonic and guys like Andrew MacDonald continue to develop. One thing's for sure - with the way these games are going with high shots, it's a good test for DiPietro to see exactly how much he can handle. We now need to know seeing as he is the man in net right now.

No NYI FYI Sunday: Due to illness, we did not get together to record this week's episode as we normally would. We're going to play it by ear to see if we can get something during the week but no promises. In the meantime, be sure to continue to check this space for any updates on that as well as thoughts on matters surrounding the team.

Thanks for the understanding.



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