John Tavares of the New York Islanders has certainly been eating his Wheaties.
His seven-point production last week–five goals and two assists in the span of three games, including his fourth career hat trick in a 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 16–is a huge part of the Islanders’ turnaround from losing five in a row to beginning a new win streak. In recognition of his hard work, he’s been named the NHL’s first star of the week ending Feb. 17.
The Islanders had been mired in losses and, by Feb. 11, they actually had yet to win a single game played in the month of February. But then Tavares started to heat up at exactly the right time: Valentine’s Day, when the Islanders went to see the cross-town rival New York Rangers. No love is lost between these two, of course, but that’s what ratchets up the intensity between them in their meetings.
Tavares scored an unassisted goal to tie it at two when the Islanders had found themselves in a 2-0 hole going into the first intermission. Though the Rangers eventually tied it at three after the Islanders got a go-ahead goal from Brad Boyes, in the ensuing shootout, Tavares potted the game-winner.
Suddenly, long-suffering Isles fans everywhere had another reason for a happy Valentine’s Day.
But then Tavares really put the icing on the cake two days later when the Devils came to town. He opened the scoring late in the second period and turned around to add a power play goal less than three minutes after his first goal. Before the period even ended, the Islanders were already up three to nothing with another power play goal from Matt Moulson. Tavares then completed his hat trick in the third period with another power play goal and Michael Grabner added one more goal for that big win.
The Islanders picked Tavares first in the 2009 draft and he’s currently leading the team in goals and points. Actually, he’s led the team in scoring for each and every season he’s been on Long Island. He’s just one goal behind Thomas Vanek for the league lead right now and could very well meet or surpass him soon.
Could a hot-handed Tavares help the team do something they haven’t done since 2007: make it to the Stanley Cup playoffs? It’s possible because the Islanders aren’t that far out of a playoff spot right now. They do have a very busy week ahead of them, with four games to play in the span of six days and three of them on the road, but maybe it could happen.
Just keep an eye on John Tavares. He’s underrated, but he’s a serious talent–and should be highly considered for the Canadian Olympic team in 2014 if NHL players are allowed to attend.