John Tavares, the New York Islanders number one pick, has had to deal with the obvious pressure that position entails. In three years the progression has been excellent, culminating in a 31 goal, 50 assist season last year. Islander management has been patient, knowing what they had and were trying to build talent around him. They also know to get to a playoff position; John Tavares would have to start dominating games with numbers as well as intangibles.
This week and by extension this season, John has done just that. Leading the team in goals with eleven and nine assists, to give him a team lead of twenty points as well. But it’s the importance of the goals this week that has defined the Islanders superstar recently. The team was floundering at 4-7-1 with a five game losing streak. However, John helped turn things around with two important wins.
The first was at Madison Square Garden where they defeated the Rangers in a shootout with Tavares tallying the winning goal. That performance was followed up this past Saturday at Nassau Coliseum with a 5-1 thumping of the New Jersey Devils in which John exploded for three goals and an assist. With Matt Moulsen supporting John with some scoring of his own, the Islanders have made some strides offensively. Coach Capuano sees that John is becoming an elite player. “To me, an elite player is someone you watch night in and night out and your coaches prepare for in your pre-scout. You’re looking at 91 (Tavares)”. John has also taken it upon himself to change perceptions. And it begins with his teammates in the locker before a game and on the ice working both ends.
This is great news for the Islanders as they have not had this type of talent for some time. Watching Tavares bloom has been a godsend for Islander fans. Taking the leadership of this team is something fans have been waiting for. Though the team appreciates all the subtle things he does, it’s his nose for goal that will make the Islanders dangerous every night. “I think ever since I was a kid, my main attribute (has been to) be a goal scorer,” Tavares said. “Not that I go out there and think about leading the league in goals, but when I get my opportunities, I want to contribute and when I get my chances, put the puck in.”