Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Islanders

John Tavares Returns To Nassau Coliseum Thursday Night

The New York Islanders and Islanders have had this day circled on their calendar the moment Tavares left and the schedule was released. Returning to the Barclays Center would not have been as emotional of a return but the Coliseum where Islander fans fell in love with Tavares, where Tavares made his name as an Islander is going to make for a whirlwind of emotions.

Some Islanders fan will have mixed feelings about Tavares return but some will not. Their is going to be a thank you video on the big screen before the game but this is going to make for one hell of a game. I will be sure to capture any video or material I can when I am at the tailgate and at the game and report back the next day. Also, I will be supporting a Tavares jersey (Islanders of course) there to see what others have to say about it.

John Tavares played nine seasons with the Islanders, he was their first round first overall selection in the 2009 draft. Immediately when Tavares came to the Islanders he buried 24 goals for 54 points in 82 games. Catching the eye of every Islanders fan. Tavares went onto to score 24+ goals for the next 8-years of his career in New York. The moment Tavares put up 81 points, 31 goals and 50 assists in 82 games during his third year. The word was out on Tavares and all of Long Island fell in love with him (except some Rangers fan on the island). There are many fond moments of Tavares during his early years on the Island and it was during his early years the Islanders struggled yet Tavares was still a top talent in the league. Tavares was one of, if not the sole reason the Coliseum filled seats during their down years and it will be like that once more as he returns for a game vs the Islanders sporting a Leafs jersey.

But, why could it be that Islanders fans are so bitter about Tavares leaving? I’ve heard some arguments supporting his decision but mostly disgruntled fans saying his legacy as an Islander is tarnished. Without Tavares during those first six years of his career I don’t think anyone off of Long Island would have known what the Islanders were. Tavares spent nine seasons with the Islanders in that time the Islanders posted a 289-251-82 record, appearing in the playoffs three times (1 of them in 2012 was the lockout half year) winning one playoff series and missing the playoffs his first three years and 5 of the 9 seasons total.

Was it really unrealistic to think Tavares deserved better? He muscled through the years from 2009-2013 when the only time the Islanders made the playoffs was because half a season. He dealt with numerous coaching changes, dealt with the move to the Barclays center and being the generational talent he is. That is a lot to deal with and to still continuously show up year after year and be a top-10 NHL player, hats off to Tavares. Also, it is worthy to the note the only Islanders playoff series win in 23 years came in 2015-16 vs the Florida Panthers all due to a John Tavares overtime game-winning goal.

It just seems like the Islanders fans are being extremely bitter about the situation. Almost like when your girlfriend breaks up with after nine years because “you guys are just not fit for each other”, sure be bitter but you don’t need to have a nineteen page report from Tavares describing why he left the Islanders. I think it was pretty clear he wanted to win, he knows he is getting up here in age. Toronto is his home town. It made total sense to me but to some Islanders fans not so much. Plus how can you be bitter at someone who brought you so much joy and happiness, I mean listen to the crowd and the announcer in that video. One of the only good thing Islanders have going for them is that playoff win in 2016.

It’s just a little odd to me a guy that a six time All-Star, nine-time 24+ goal scorer with the Islanders, four time 70+ point player with the Islanders. A big reason some of you even like Islanders and follow the team to this day, a reason some of you even play or played hockey and a big reason why some of your kids play or played hockey. Tavares did so much for Long Island and to say his legacy is tarnished is beyond me. Let the guy be, enjoy the Thank You clip during the game Thursday, if you don’t like him, great but at least be an adult about it Go and cheer the Islanders on and be happy you still have a good team without him and let the walking of Tavares this summer go. I say this because TSN released a video showing Islanders fan talking bad about Tavares and his return to the Coliseum Thursday, only a few fans but if you agree with those people you probably kicked rocks and played outfield in little league.

New York Islanders News

Are The New York Islanders For Real?

I said this about three weeks ago when I wrote about how the Islanders will make the playoffs in the wild card spot. Although I do believe the Islanders are a solid team, I was not under the impression they would be the metropolitan divisions first place team at the moment.

With their win in Washington Friday night. Not just any win, a shutout win for Thomas Greiss and a 2-0 Islanders victory. The Islanders jumped the Capitals for first place with 60 points. Barry Trotz made his return to Washington a sweet one, perhaps not so sweet in the eyes of Capitals fans. While the Islanders lead the Metropolitan with 60 points and tied with the Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference as well. The more shocking piece of news to me is that the Islanders are (1) doing this all without John Tavares, (2) doing this all without a forward paid over 6 million a year, (3) have seven forwards with 20 plus points (4) have the least goals against in the NHL with a defense consisting of four first to second year players.

The Islanders have been on a ridiculous tear as of late, winning 8 of their last 10 on a four-game winning streak, posting a record of 15-6-2 between December and January. Their last two games are Anaheim and Chicago to finish off January until the All-Star break.

The Barry Trotz affect…

It is tough to say if the Islanders are for real, they definitely deserve a lot of recognition right now, after being projected to be a bottom of the barrel team, multiple acquisitions of the team being nothing without Tavares and having low expectations to now be 47 games in and in first place with 60 points is outstanding. Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello have certainly used their wisdom and years of experience to the betterment of this Islanders team but all coaching and management aside. The Islanders players from top to bottom are all chipping in.

From top to bottom the Islanders are getting it done…

Jordan Eberle is starting to turn a corner, Brock Nelson is having a great year, Anders Lee is stepping into some big shoes quite well, Matt Barzal turned the reporters who said he was not going to be the same player this year into chumps, Valtteri Filppula is having a surprising year, Casey Cizkas is the best fourth line player in hockey, along with Cal Clutterbuck. Ryan Pulock, Nick Leddy and that Islanders blue line is not the same as last year. Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner have looked unbelievable. There are a lot of factors that go into the Islanders success, yes we have 35 games left but the Islanders are going to be in the playoffs in my opinion. In a top-three Metro spot, I don’t know but either way they will be there. It should not come as a major surprise to many but Barry Trotz could go down as one of the best modern day coaches if he manages to make this Islanders team into a consistent playoff team and more.

Islanders month of February looks like, Tampa Bay, Kings, at Boston, at Devils, Colorado, at Minnesota (back to back COL, MIN), at Buffalo, at Columbus, Edmonton, at Calgary, at Edmonton (back to back), at Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto.

Right now they need to worry about their last two January games but if the Islanders can come out of the All-Star break and take February away with a record of 9-5 they will put themselves in a perfect spot for the playoffs and pretty comfortable heading into the last full month of action.