The captain, John Tavares, has helped the New York Islanders pull within six points of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.As if we needed more evidence that John Tavares is superhuman, the Isles’ captain followed up his big week with an even bigger goal.
Tavares, 26, made a nifty move and roofed the puck over the goaltender to record the game’s first tally. He later notched a shorthanded goal to secure the victory. The Isles, who entered a new era Tuesday with the firing of head coach Jack Capuano, pulled to within six points of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
John Tavares with a Filthy Goal showing off a Windmill! ??? pic.twitter.com/bWrR4V5h2x
— Bar South N Celly™ (@BarSouthNCelly) January 20, 2017
Tavares x2 pic.twitter.com/AD08mPE6np
— GIF Grand Maester (@myregularface) January 20, 2017
“It’s one of our best all-around games this year,” Thomas Greiss said, via Arthur Staple of Newsday. “Maybe (Tuesday’s firing of Capuano) was a little wakeup call for the boys. Everybody chipped in today. It was a great effort.”
Even though the postseason remains sort of a pipe dream, the Isles still have plenty to compete for. There’s pride to be solidified, and even the prospect of making a late-season run.
If the Isles pull off that feat, it will be because of the team’s first line, which is anchored by the invaluable Tavares. While the media has debated his future with the team (he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent following the end of next season), he’s quietly enjoyed a semi-resurgance, recording points in bulk after struggling to light the lamp for weeks.
Two nights after he notched his sixth career hat trick, the über-talented center posted a pair of goals against the Carolina Hurricanes. He followed that up with two huge tallies against the Dallas Stars, helping the Isles inch towards the seventh-place New Jersey Devils.
“There are games when you’re vulnerable,” head coach Doug Weight said. “We had all those chances and we don’t score, you’re waiting for the ball to drop in the third. But it didn’t happen.
“It was something special from the first goal on. His [John Tavares] work ethic, killing penalties, attention to detail. He’s a great leader.”
The team’s first line (Tavares, Josh Bailey and Anders Lee) as a whole has been unconscious as of late. SNY‘s Andy Graziano recently highlighted Bailey’s resurgence, and we recently profiled Lee’s bounce-back campaign.
On Thursday night, this line combined for sixteen of the team’s thirty-six shots. Bailey has four points in his last five games. Lee has four in his last six. The moral of this story? If these guys continue to produce, the Isles will have a chance.