John Tavares

NHL on NBCSN: Inconsistent Islanders face steady Bruins


NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the New York Islanders host the Boston Bruins at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum at 7:30 p.m. ET.

No team has won fewer games at home than the New York Islanders (2-7-0) and to make matters worse for them, they’ll be facing one of the best road teams in the NHL tonight (7-1-1).

Almost everyone on the Boston Bruins seems to be living up to expectations so far this season and consequently they’re one of the deepest teams in the league, led by a superb young goaltender in 25-year-old Tuukka Rask.

Goals are hard to come by against the Bruins, which is one of the reasons that no team has beaten them this year when Boston has scored first or has the lead after 20 minutes.

That’s particularly problematic for the Islanders, given how inconsistent they’ve been lately. Their recent play has frustrated head coach Jack Capuano.

“If guys want to play individualistic, go play golf or tennis,” Capuano suggested after the Islanders suffered a 4-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, according to New York Newsday.

One beacon of light for the Islanders win or lose has been 22-year-old forward John Tavares. He’s tied for first in the NHL with 13 goals this season and has found the back of the net nine times in his last 10 games.

However, even Tavares’ sparkling play has turned into a point of controversy at time for the Islanders. Starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov recently suggested that his team has become over-reliant on the young superstar.

“It’s a matter of, do we want to play as a team, go hard every shift, or do we wait around for Johnny Tavares to score a goal and then say, ‘OK, now I’m going to play today, too’?” Nabokov asked in a New York Newsday report.

So will the Islanders come out of the gate strong and will the rest of the team give Tavares the support that he needs? Even if they do, will that be enough to stop the superb Boston Bruins?

Probable goaltenders: NYI – Nabokov (8-6-1, 2.91 GAA, .903 SV%) | BOS – Rask (9-1-2, 1.97 GAA, .925 SV%)

Top scorers: NYI – Tavares (13-12-25, 19 GP) | BOS – David Krejci (4-9-13, 15 GP)

Notable Injuries:
New York – Forwards: Jesse Joensuu (hernia) Defensemen: Brian Strait (ankle), Matt Carkner (lower body)
Boston – Forwards: Marc Savard (concussion)

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

Torres apologizes to Silfverberg and Sharks


A statement from Raffi Torres:

“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”

A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:

“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”

Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.