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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)

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