Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mr. Clutch: Behind Tavares' Hat Trick, Isles Best Rangers 4-2



John Tavares is a man possessed right now.

With eight points in his last two games, the New York Islanders' star has risen to the top of the hill, and he's currently tied with Phil Kessel for the league lead in points (8) and goals (5).

*I understand it's early, but I also feel compelled to mention that Al Montoya has the best GAA (1.35) in the NHL right now. He's also second to Kari Lehtonen, with a .953 save percentage.

P.A. Parenteau is in a three-way tie with David Legwand and Erik Karlsson for the league lead in assists, with six helpers. He had three last night.

Yes, it's early, but this was exactly the kind of start the Isles NEEDED to get off on. These guys had to storm out of the gate, and after an abysmal performance on opening night, they've rattled off three straight wins, two of which came against should-be playoff contenders.

The Islanders have looked better and better each game, and they were pretty darn impressive last night against their crosstown rivals, the New York Rangers.

Evgeni Nabokov won his first start of the season, making 29 saves on 31 shots faced. He was sharp throughout.

The offense clicked all night, and they've all but erased that poor showing against Florida (in which they still managed to rack up 27 shots on goal). 34 shots in each of the last two games is nothing to overlook, it's a statement.

Matt Moulson scored his second goal of the season. He's been good, but his teammates, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner, have to come through as well. As good as the first line has been, they cannot be the only ones producing or this team's going to find themselves in a heap of trouble.

Kudos to Brian Rolston, who notched his first point as an Islander with an assist on Tavares' first goal.

Mark Streit notched a pair of helpers in this game. The captain has three points in four games this season,  a healthy pace. His shot/pass is incredibly effective. What a difference Streit's presence in the lineup makes, huh?

Though he didn't record any points, Travis Hamonic had five shots-on-goal. He's only got one assist so far, but look for a jump in that department. He has the will and is putting in the effort, the points will come.

John Tavares was definitely the big story in this one, but the Isles' success on special teams deserves an honorable mention. The NYI finished 2-for-8 with the man advantage, and killed off all four Ranger powerplays. They've thwarted 13 of 14 PP opportunities this season.

The result? A 3-1-0-0 start to the year, a three-game win streak and some raised eyebrows, among other things. Whatever Jack Capuano, Doug Weight and the rest of the coaching staff is doing, it's working.

Beating the Rangers is always satisfying, but doing it with star power feels even better. It's nice to see Tavares dominating the way he is right now.


Comments are welcome. 

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