John Tavares had everything to do with a recent win over the Philadelphia Flyers that put them in the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference tied with their crosstown rival, New York Rangers. Even if it was temporary the placement was important because many pundits, not me, had counted them out already this season and the team’s offensive leader made sure in that game that his team remained in the hunt.

“These types of games in these buildings have late scrambles and things like that and a tough break on a penalty. A big scramble out from and one went in and we blew an opportunity on the power play in overtime," Tavares said.

At the 19:00 minute mark of the second period things were looking bleak for the Isles. They were down a couple of goals and their offense was sputtering. The normally good power play was 0-3. Tavares got the puck and made a no-look pass/shot around the net and the puck hit off a Flyers defenseman’s skate and into the back of the net. It was a 2-1 game and it gave him 21 goals on the season and his team life. This is a big reason why I think he is a Hart Trophy candidate.

Besides making some great defensive plays to help send the Islanders into the shootout which led to a victory, he is a calming influence on this team and he makes players around him better.

At the end of the day Tavares is the kind of player the Islanders have needed for a decade. He is cut from the same cloth as a Brian Trottier, Mike Bossy and Denis Potvin. He wants to win at all costs and he's not yet ready to say his team is a playoff team but I could tell that's all he wants and he wants it badly.

"This was a team behind us and we wanted to increase that gap and obviously move up in the standings," he stated. "There's a lot of work left to be done.


Story was written by Credentialed author Russ Cohen an originally published  at You can find Russ Cohen's book on the Winter Classic here