Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tavares 2, Hurricanes 1

What can I say about John Tavares that hasn't already been said?

Sometimes it boggles my mind that the guy was born in 1990. On nights like Saturday (1/21), when he provided all the Islanders' offense needed to get a win, one can easily forget that he's just 21 years old.

Tavares, coupled with another outstanding effort in goal (32 saves) from Evgeni Nabokov, led the Islanders to victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. 2-1 was the final score, in overtime. For the Islanders, it was their third straight win, tying their season-high streak.

During the game, Isles' broadcaster Howie Rose went off on what can only be described as a five minute long rant against ESPN writer Neil Greenberg. Greenberg, who had failed to place Tavares in a certain "25 young players under (age) 25" list, was excoriated by Rose.

While I'm not sure a public flogging (Rose did not say the writer's name on air) is the route I would have chosen to make the point, Rose happened to be right in this case. How can anyone of fair mind who watches ice hockey for a living exclude the Islanders' star from that group?

Not only is Tavares one of the 25 best young players, he's one of the best in the league right now.

With his 2 points (both coming as goals) on Saturday night, he now has 169 points in 207 career games (0.816 PPG). He passed Dave Scatchard on the Islanders all-time scoring list and tied Jude Drouin. Next within John's sights are Shawn Bates (170), J-P Parise, and Claude Lapointe (both at 171).

While Tavares has found his form, perhaps the Islanders are coming into theirs as well. They are now just 2 games under .500 for the season and are teasing their fans with thoughts of a playoff run.

It's still premature to think about meaningful April hockey, but the team is just eight points out of a playoff spot. If they clean up against Toronto and Carolina (who they play twice and once more, respectively) to end January, the playoff whispers on Long Island will grow by many decibels.

Either way, the selection of John Tavares in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft looks like General Manager Garth Snow's masterstroke. Even if he isn't on your list quite yet.

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