January 3, 2012; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) control the puck in front of the Carolina Hurricanes defensemen Jamie McBain (4) during the 1st period at the RBC center. Photo Credit: James Guillory-US PRESSWIRE

The Final Showdown: Canes versus Tavares

It’s a different month, but the same John Tavares. The Islanders young center has nine points in three victorious games against Carolina. Canes fell 3-4 in a shootout on January 3rd. A couple weeks later John “The Tick” Tavares scored in overtime to win 2-1. Finally, The Tick claimed the game-winner on January 31st to destroy the Canes 5-2. Tavares leads New York in points (22g, 33a) and ranks 11th in the league. He also ranks 7thin the NHL with 6 game winning goals.

On paper these two teams are appear evenly matched. Islanders have 56 points and currently sit in 13th place in the Eastern Conference. Hurricanes are positioned a step behind with 55 points. If the Canes can sweep the Stanley Cup Champions, surely they should have no difficultly gaining two points in this fourth and final meeting of the season, right?! Please excuse me while I repeatedly bash my forehead against the desk.

We can take into consideration the Islanders are coming off a tough 5-1 loss against St. Louis, whereas the Canes have secured a point in every game since they last faced the Isles (4-0-2). Although the Raleigh team is without Chad LaRose and Tuomo Ruutu, there are a number of players stepping up. Jiri Tlustly boasts 3 goals and 3 assists in the past six games. Eric Staal is brewing his own personal storm with 7 points over the past 4 contests. Jussi Jokinen claimed a tally and a helper in Friday night’s victory over San Jose. Jeff Skinner’s earlier goal in that game pushed him to 3 points over 5 games. Despite three straight losses to New York, Cam Ward has performed his best with a 2.56 GAA and .920 SV%. Muller forecasted Ward to be back in the net this evening after suffering a “tweak.”

So, what’s the game plan? Shut down Tavares like Route 40 at 5:30pm…when there’s an accident…and contruction. Another key, stay out of the box. Although they didn’t show it Thursday againt St. Louis, the Islanders know how to convert the extra-man advantage.

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Tags: Cam Ward Carolina Hurricanes Chad LaRose Eric Staal Jeff Skinner Jiri Tlusty John Tavares Jussi Jokinen New York Islanders Tuomo Ruutu

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