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NHL on NBCSN: Inconsistent Islanders face steady Bruins

Feb 26, 2013, 8:02 AM EDT

John Tavares Getty Images

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)

  1. hockeywithdrawal - Feb 26, 2013 at 8:17 AM

    It’s really painful to say, but the Bruins are the dominant team in the East right now – there are very few weaknesses to exploit…it will be a tough battle for NYI.

  2. 950003cups - Feb 26, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    Watch the Islanders put up a gem and best down the Bruins. Then go on to get shut out the next 5 games in a row.

    • islesjb - Feb 26, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      From this team, it wouldn’t surprise me. It seems that the Isles lose when they are supposed to win and win when they are supposed to lose (ie- blowing out the Penguins at home).

      They actually played the Bruins close last time in Boston and ended up letting the game get away from them at the end, losing 4-2. That was with friggin Rick DiPietro in net.

      I’ll go in with low expectations and hope to be pleasantly surprised. Hopefully its the John Tavares/Matt Moulson Show with a guest appearance by Evgeni Nabakov; those guys showing up is the only way this team wins

      • islesjb - Feb 26, 2013 at 9:33 AM

        ps John Tavares is good at hockey

    • rdurk86 - Feb 26, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      Good luck with that prediction.

  3. nunan - Feb 26, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Bs have a lot going for them right now but their offense is still not clicking like it has in the past. Everything else has been pretty expected – strong D, great PK, mediocre/awful PP, etc. The offense is still slightly ‘off’, though. Last game was a definite step in the right direction. First win by 3 goals all year.

  4. bcisleman - Feb 26, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    The offense has become too dependent on JT and Matty with help from Brad Boyes. Trouble is that the Mississauga line and Casey Cizikas’ 4th line are the only ones playing well. Nabby is right, but he has been inconsistent as well. With production from the second and third lines and reliable goaltending, the Isles are capable of beating any team in the NHL. Hate to say it, but it really depends on how much they want it.

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