Last year, John Tavares was selected as the first overall pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, by General Manager Garth Snow of the New York Islanders. I was at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum when he was announced as the Isles' pick. I will never forget the day. When Garth Snow said the fated words "The New York Islanders select...John...Tavares," the whole Colisseum erupted at the sound of the word "John," confetti rained down, and the goal horn blared. Fans were overcome with happiness at the selection of their future hero.
Last season, in his rookie year, Tavares put up great numbers. He scored an impressive 24 goals, despite having a drought, and he added 30 assists for a total of 54 points, great for a rookie, especially for a team with an overall lack of offensive talent like the Islanders.
This year, Islanders fans were excited to see how Tavares would fare in his sophomore season. Fans were devastated when Tavares was hit unseen by Star's forward, Adam Burish, early in the first game of the season. Tavares fell to the ice and had to be helped off the ice. Tavares ended up with a concussion. Much to the fans' relief, it was announced to be only a minor concussion. Tavares ended up missing what seemed like a long 3 games.
In John's first game back against the Colorado Avalanche, he scored an empty net goal. He has only got better since that point. So far, in his 8 games, including the one he only played a few minutes of before the injury, he has recorded 6 tallies, and tacked on 2 assists. That's 8 points in not even 8 games, John looks good.
He's even proven himself clutch like when he sniped a goal past the Leafs J.S. Giguere in OT to snatch a 2-1 win for the Isles.
He scored a hat trick in a 4-3 loss to the Panthers in Florida. He also showed some signs of mental maturity, when he didn't pride himself for the milestone.
“It doesn’t mean a whole lot when you don’t get the two points, not getting a point out of it,” Tavares said. “It’s a tough way to lose. A couple tough breaks, a couple tough calls, but that’s the way it goes. We almost found a way to push it to overtime. So we just have to be happy with the effort in the last two periods and get ready for next week.”
John is maturing well, and he's grown into a man's body. He's faster, smarter, and stronger. That should lead to more goals. John isn't going to let the old "Sophomore Slump" adage stand in his way.
I predict at this rate, Tavares is en route for about the 35-45 goal range, and about 70 points. The fans on the Island will have a lot to cheer about this year.
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