Things haven’t been all that great for the New York Islanders the past five years. They’ve missed the playoffs each year, they’ve finished last in their division in all five years, and they even managed to be the worst team in the league in 2008-09.
Out of that mess came a superstar in John Tavares. The first overall pick in the 2009 draft has become the superstar the Isles hoped he would.
In each of his first three seasons, Tavares has improved each year. His 54 points in his rookie season with 24 goals made for a nice start, but following that up with 67 points (29 goals) two seasons ago and then an 81 point (31 goals) season this past year has shown GM Garth Snow that he needs to surround him with better players. With Tavares locked in for the next six years, the Isles don’t have to worry about him bolting town anytime soon.
As it is, scoring goals isn’t really the Isles’ problem with Tavares around. With guys like Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, and Michael Grabner around, finding the back of the net is a strength. Above all that, however, it’s Tavares’ burgeoning superstar status that shines above them all.
In any other situation you’d say, “As Tavares goes, so go the Islanders.” With the state the team is in (like with a newly acquired defensemen trying to find a way out before getting there), that’s just not the case.
Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers almost seemed destined to be a wild affair, and so far, the two teams aren’t disappointing.
For one thing, Chris Kreider and the Rangers were open about “not forgetting” Cody Eakin‘s hit on Henrik Lundqvist, something Eakin realized heading in. The Stars had their own irritations coming into this game, as they clearly weren’t happy with their loss to the Buffalo Sabres and their shaky play overall.
So, yeah, plenty of reason for this to be a rowdy affair.
Kreider is delivering in particular, with the most memorable moment being his strange fight with Eakin, which you can see above. SBNation’s Pat Iversen points out that Kreider probably should have been ejected for hitting Eakin with a piece of his equipment, a violation of Rule 53.
As many know, Kreider has even more of a reputation for “interacting” with goalies, as he did once again with Antti Niemi:
The Stars currently lead the game 5-3, so it’s been a busy one on the scoreboard, too.
Down 2-0 to the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a shaky start on Tuesday. Still, their concerns likely revolve the most around the health of defenseman Morgan Rielly.
As you can see from the video above, the young Buds blueliner was shaken up by an awkward spill into the boards.
It’s too early to know if he avoided injury or might miss some time, but there’s at least some concern that he might have aggravated an issue from before his NHL days:
We’ll need to wait and see, but with his offensive skills and overall importance in mind (average just under 23 minutes a game this season, more or less in line with his breakthrough year in 2015-16), the Maple Leafs are crossing their fingers that this isn’t anything major.
The Chicago Blackhawks need to put a tough weekend behind them; maybe the Colorado Avalanche are just what the doctor ordered.
Colorado is clearly ranked last in the league, whether they believe they have some assets in the likes of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog or not. Perhaps there will be a few scouts on hand to see how such potential Avs trade targets perform against a contending team?
It’s rarely a dull night when the Blackhawks roll out talented players like Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews – among others – so it should be a good time on NBCSN on Tuesday.
You can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.
Tyler Ennis‘ return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Monday after a 30-game absence seemed like a breath of fresh air. Tuesday, then, represents letting the air out of the balloon.
The Sabres announced that Ennis wasn’t out for warm-ups heading into tonight’s Sabres – Toronto Maple Leafs game. It certainly gives the impression that his groin injury isn’t fully healed.
Ennis contributed a goal to Buffalo’s 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday and nearly scored another in “lacrosse” style:
When healthy, he’s been a 20-goal, 40+ point player for Buffalo lately, so he was missed. The team tweeted out Ryan O'Reilly‘s comments about Ennis’ return mere hours ago, so you get the impression that it was a surprise for many:
Maybe it’s just a minor setback?
Update: The Sabres deem it a “precautionary scratch,” according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News. So maybe file this under minor setback. We’ll see.