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.


FREE NHL Picks: January 31, 2018

New York Islanders(25-21-5) vs Toronto Maple Leafs(28-18-5)

Islanders dropped a tough one Tuesday night to the Panthers, not a game the Islanders could afford to drop and not the way they wanted to start the second half. They now travel from New York to Toronto in a back to back, things do not get easier for this squad. The Maple Leafs will be playing in their first game back though, so maybe the Islanders got the cobwebs off and get back to the style of play they know, catch the Leafs off guard/sleeping and jump on them quick. I know when teams go back to back they statistically play worse or rarely win, but I think the Islanders could possibly take this game or at least get a point. The Leafs leading goal scorer, and player that leads in assists, missed 10 games this season and still has 22 goals and 15 assists(Auston Matthews), for those that did not know, yes it’s Matthews. The Leafs have struggled tremendously this season with offensive depth. James Van Reimsdyk(50GP, 30 points), Nazem Kadri(49GP, 28 points), Tyler Bozak(50GP, 26 points) Mitch Marner(51GP, 34 points), I’m sure you get my point. The Leafs need to see more production from these guys or else it will be a short lived post season. The Leafs are without, Morgan Reilly and Nikita Zaitsev so their defense is hurting another reason the Islanders can take it. These two have yet to play each other and this will be the first of three meetings between the two. Tonight, I’m going Islanders, road win, why not, Toronto is only 13-8-2 on home ice.

San Jose Sharks(26-16-7) vs Detroit Red Wings(19-21-8) 

The Sharks are coming off a beat down from the Penguins, losing 5-2, and now have to travel from sunny Pittsburgh to gloomy Michigan to take on Detroit. Not an easy day of travel and the travel will affect the Sharks. The Sharks are again without Joe Thornton but Martin Jones is back which we probably won’t see him tonight as he started Tuesday, Aaron Dell will more than likely get the start. The Sharks are now tied with the Kings and Ducks for that second place spot in the division and as the season continues these two will be on their tail all year. Each game is important and a win tonight is a must for San Jose. The Red Wings are a competitive team, with a ton of forward skill but are just not the type of team to make a playoff run right now, yes they will give teams a hard time but when push comes to shove the Red Wings will get beat by the better teams in the NHL. Tonight I have to go with San Jose as a win is a must for them.

Philadelphia Flyers(24-17-8) vs Washington Capitals(29-15-5) 

These two are coming off a fresh break, not playing last night and this being both their first games back since the All-Star break. The last time these two played was just prior to the All-Star break where the Flyers won in overtime in Washington and currently hold the season series advantage 2-0. The Flyers played the Capitals on Oct. 14, and they brutally beat them 8-2, this will mark the third meeting of four for the two and a possible chance for the Flyers to take the season series. The Flyers have been playing much better leading up to the All-Star break, but this break can be both good or bad for some teams. The Capitals are enjoying another first place spot right now, but when these two meet, all past history is remembered but not a factor in the game. It is very well known how much the Flyers, Capitals dislike one another. An offense led by Rocket trophy favorite Alex Ovechkin, with a vezina goaltender in net go up against the assist leader Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and new goal scorer Sean Courtier as the Flyers head to Washington one more time to take the season series. This will for sure be a good one, it does not matter what I say about either team, these two will come to play no matter what. Tonight I am going Capitals.