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New York Islanders @ Colorado Avalanche

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
Team Record: 4-6-2

Last Game: 6-2 L vs. BOS
Season Series: 0 of 2
Team Record: 7-7-1
Last Game: 5-2 L vs. DET
Season Series: 0 of 2
John Tavares
Tavares has led the Islanders night in and night out, not just on the scoreboard, but with his work ethic and drive to succeed. In his third year pro, the Mississauga, ON native has already capitalized on many of his opportunities, scoring consecutive four-point nights earlier this year.

“JT has always been a guy, since he was 14-years-old that has scored goals,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said after Tuesday’s practice. “He’s natural at that, but with work ethic comes success.”

With eight goals and five assists, he not only leads the Islanders in scoring, but he leads the team with 45 shots on goal (18 shots more than any other player), as well as all forwards in time-on-ice per game as he averages 18:15/game.

The 21-year-old has helped the power play tremendously. Averaging 3:23 of power play time per game, second on the team behind Isles Captain Mark Streit, Tavares has scored four goals and an assist, where he’s tied for third in the league’s leader board for PPGs scored.

“Johnny’s played extremely well,” Capuano said. “He’s working hard, his skating is better, his puck protection is better and he’s stronger on his skates. He’s leading our team right now as far as our forwards go, on the offensive side of things.”
Matt Duchene
Drafted third overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Duchene and Tavares were neck-and-neck for the first overall selection. Both turned pro that same year and have made significant impacts on their respective teams.

“He’s a competitive guy,” Tavares said. “He’s got a lot of skill and he’s a really good player. We got to know each other pretty well through that whole draft experience and we have the same agent. We also played against each other in junior, so it’s always a good competition, and challenges both of us to be better.”

Now, in their third-year-pro, the centermen have remarkably similar career stats. Fifteen games into his season with the Avalanche, Duchene leads Colorado in scoring with 5-7=12 totals; Tavares has recorded 8-5=13 totals in the Islanders first 12 games.

Duchene posted just one more assist his rookie campaign, while the players posted the same points in their sophomore campaign, (Tavares 29-38=67 and Duchene 27-40=67), combining that with their totals on the 2011-12 season thus far, these former 2009 first round picks are tied with 134 career points.

Tavares said, “(Our stats are) definitely interesting for the media to talk about, but for me and him it’s not something we worry about a whole lot. We just want to help our respective teams win.”
The Islanders record over the Colorado Avalanche in the last decade is of fantastic proportion. Dating back to Nov. 16, 2001, the Islanders have posted a 7-0-1-1 record against the Denver-based club. Thursday night (9 p.m. ET), they’ll look to extend that streak at the Pepsi Center, but they’ll also be looking to improve their current record and get back to .500 hockey.

“We have to be the hardest working team every night,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said Wednesday after the team’s practice. “We have addressed that and our guys know that. We are 4-6-2, so it’s not like we are sitting here. It could be a lot worse, but it could be a lot better too, some of the games we lost in overtime and the shootout.”

He added, “I’m pretty confident in the group we have right now.”

But after a come-from-behind win over the Washington Capitals on Saturday, the Islanders handed the Bruins a 6-2 win Monday night. That game was one the Islanders would like to soon forget, but it’s also a game that they learned from.

“If you look at all of our games, we have like some good sustained pressure for a shift, maybe two and then it just seems like something goes wrong and we get stuck in our zone for a few shifts and lose some momentum,” Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “When we get that sustained pressure, we have to take advantage of it and capitalize, whether we draw a penalty and get on the power play or score a goal at even strength.”

Islanders Captain Mark Streit has faith the Isles will turn their luck around.

“We can control our destiny with hard work,” Streit said. “I thought against Boston that wasn’t the case, but if we work hard and try hard and try to get better every day, sooner or later we are going to be successful.”
Coach Jack Capuano wasn't happy with the effort from some of the New York Islanders in their latest defeat.

The Colorado Avalanche are also dealing with growing frustration during their longest skid of the young season.

The Islanders will try to beat the Avalanche for a fifth time in a row in the only meeting of the season between these struggling teams Thursday night.

New York (4-6-2) has been sputtering during a 1-5-2 stretch after winning three in a row. The Islanders' woes continued Monday as they opened a three-game road trip by losing 6-2 at Boston.

They were outscored 3-0 in the third period, and Capuano felt the effort was lacking from certain players.

"We just had some guys that didn't show up. I'm not going to name any names," Capuano said. "We had a couple of lines that played well. We had a couple of lines but not enough to sustain it against a team like that."

John Tavares, Michael Grabner and Matt Moulson may not be among the players drawing Capuano's ire after they combined for two goals and three assists against the reigning Stanley Cup champions. (Continue Reading)

The last time the Islanders faced the Avalanche (Jan. 8, 2011 in Denver), John Tavares scored with 1:08 remaining in the overtime period to solidify a 4-3 win. Milan Hejduk sent the game to overtime with his second goal of the night, tying the game at 19:56 of the third after Jeremy Colliton scored two power play goals, split by a PPG from Blake Comeau for a 3-2 lead. David Koci put the Avs ahead 2-0 with a goal at 1:47 of the first.
- Mark Katic - Shoulder (9/24 vs. NJ) - 12 games missed (Out indefinitely)

- Rhett Rakhshani - Concussion (9/27 at CGY) - 12 games missed (Out indefinitely)
Power Play %: 16.7%
Penalty Kill %: 82.5%
Home Record: 4-3-1
Road Record: 0-3-1
Goals For: 25
Goals Against: 35
Power Play %: 29.2%
Penalty Kill %: 74.0%
Home Record: 1-5-0
Road Record: 6-2-1
Goals For: 42
Goals Against: 47
(Answer from 11/07: Mark Streit. The Swiss defenseman has scored 22 points in 27 career games against the Bruins. Only Brian Rolston has played more games against Boston with 29 total.)
Check out the Islanders depth chart from Wednesday's practice at Iceworks.

Avalanche (Expected) Lineups
Forwards: Winnik-O’Reilly-Landeskog, Duchene-Stastny- Hejduk, Jones-McClement-Lindstrom, McLeod -Kobasew

O’Brien-Quincey, Johnson-Wilson, Hejda-O’Byrne, Hunwick

Varlamov, Giguere

Expected Scratches:
Mueller, Porter, Galiardi

Islanders Captain Mark Streit: "I think whenever you struggle or you don’t do that well, you have to make sure you practice even harder, pay attention to the details, work the way you want to play. We had a rough game in Boston and the mood was bad after the game, but at the same time you need to stay positive, go back to work the next day and concentrate on the next game. It’s important, there’s not a lot of time between games. We had a good practice (Wednesday) and a good foundation for tomorrow."
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