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Secondary scoring needed for wins

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
John Tavares’ hot streak of consecutive four point games have propelled him to the top of the NHL’s scoring leaderboards and the Islanders to at 3-1-0 record. His performance earned him the league’s second star of the week.

Actually, Tavares and his linemates account for eight goals, nearly two-thirds of all the Islanders scoring. Matt Moulson has recorded two goals and two assists while PA Parenteau has chipped in a goal and six assists.

As much as Tavares would like to continue his hot streak and put four points on the board every night, no team can depend on one player and one power line to carry the weight. To get this Islanders team to the 2012 postseason, each line needs to contribute.

John Tavares skates against the Rangers at Nassau Coliseum on October 15, 2011. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
“Sometimes it takes a little bit of time, just like it did with Johnny’s line,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “I’m not pressing those guys at all. I’m not going to sit and show them negativity or any kind of video. They know what they have to do. I know they are going to come around. It’s just a matter of time before those guys break out and we get that secondary scoring we need.”

According to Capuano, the lack of scoring isn’t for a lack of effort or poor work ethic. The Islanders have improved in the shots category with each passing game. Tavares’ 12 shots are tied with Matt Martin for the most on the team and Brian Rolston is the only other player in double digits with 10.

Kyle Okposo (7 shots), Frans Nielsen (6 shots), Michael Grabner (5 shots), Josh Bailey (3 shots) and Blake Comeau (1 shot) will all need to pick up their play and send some more shots towards the net if they want to get on the score sheet and help the Islanders win some more games.

“I’m not going to blow the lines up right now or start to dismantle anything,” Capuano said.

However, if things don’t improve after the team’s two-game road trip to the Sunshine State, he’ll likely have to re-evaluate.

“If they were getting chances, it’d be one thing, but right now they aren’t getting too many chances in the games we’ve played,” Capuano said. “We will keep them together and hopefully it will come for those guys.”

Other than the Islanders top line, the Islanders have only had three additional goal scorers. After the Islanders failed to score in their opener, Andrew MacDonald and Nielsen posted goals in the second game of the season to record the Islanders first win, 2-1 over the Minnesota Wild.

Kyle Okposo skates against the Rangers at Nassau Coliseum on October 15, 2011. The Islanders defeated the Rangers 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Grabner knocked in a rebound and provided the final tally in a 5-1 win over Tampa Bay on Oct. 13. Okposo had the solo assist, but having just one point in four games is something Okposo isn’t too pleased with, saying that his line isn’t “doing a very good job” of providing that secondary scoring at the moment.

“We just have to change a couple little things,” Okposo said. “We want to get this figured out on this road trip and contribute and get back to the way that we are used to playing. I think that we are a good enough line where we can contribute quite a bit offensively. We just have to get back to doing the little things.”

Even though Okposo is frustrated, Martin has had time to watch his teammates and thinks they’re playing pretty well together right now.

“Grabs (Grabner), Okie (Okposo), and Frans (Nielsen) are playing good hockey together,” Martin said. “You’ve seen what they can do once they get going. They are all going to break out sooner or later. Their line has been getting a lot of shots.”

Tying Tavares for the team lead in shots (12) is a stat Martin is proud of and though he’d like to find his way to the score sheet, he said he’s not discouraged.

“We’re only four games in,” Martin said. “The important thing is that we are winning these games. Goals will come. I think we’d all be a little more frustrated if we were 1-3-0 and not winning.”

He added, “We’re definitely going to need secondary scoring. I think it’s just going to be a matter of time. We have a lot of skill on this team. All lines are firing pretty well, so it’s not like anyone’s playing bad. If you keep throwing pucks at the net, eventually they are going to go in.”

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