UNIONDALE, N.Y. – John Tavares knows he’d better get his legs going early tonight.
With the New York Islanders mired in a six-game losing streak and having scored a League-low 18 goals in 11 games, coach Jack Capuano reshuffled his lines for Saturday night against the Washington Capitals. For Tavares, who has scored seven of New York’s goals and assisted on four others, it means replacing right wing PA Parenteau with Michael Grabner.
Not only did Grabner score 34 goals as a rookie last season, but he also won the fastest skater competition at All-Star Weekend in January.
The third-year center is looking forward to playing with Grabner and regular linemate Matt Moulson in the reshuffled pairings.
“I think it will be good – a little bit of a different mindset,” Tavares said Saturday morning. “As much as we’ve been getting opportunities, we haven’t been getting results. Sometimes you just need a different look, a clean slate, a different mindset to breed some confidence and excitement into everybody.”
With the Isles having been blanked in two of their last three games and scoring just seven goals during the six-game slide, Tavares said the Islanders have to look at the shuffle in a positive light.
“You have to take it that way,” he said. “We’ve been playing pretty well – although it’s easy to say you’re playing well when you’re not winning. We’ve been creating a lot of opportunities; we just haven’t been able to find the net. Hopefully some new chemistry, some new looks will bring some of the success and results we’re looking for.”
Having Grabner instead of Parenteau will mean some changes for Tavares.
“It is a little bit [different],” he said. “You have guys who do things differently and play different styles. It’s not really going to change my game, but for sure it will be a little different.
“I’m looking forward to playing with [Grabner]. It should be fun.”
There hasn’t been a lot of fun on Long Island for the past three weeks – the Isles haven’t won since beating the Rangers 4-2 on Oct. 15. Tavares said the Islanders need to go back to what they were doing in the early stages of the season, which saw them win three in a row before the current slump.
“I think sometimes when you’re trying to make the perfect play or the perfect shot, that starts putting you in trouble,” he told NHL.com. “You’re not going to get those opportunities every night. A lot of the goals you see on the highlights come from just putting pucks on the net and maybe you get a loose rebound or it goes off a skate and in – and that can get you going.
“Then everything comes more easily. You play more simple and you do the right thing. People say ‘you’re working too hard,’ but I feel it’s more like you’re trying to complicate things more than you should. You need to keep it simple and do the little things that will start to build your confidence and breed success.”