Pre-Game Bits: I Like Tavares Because _____.

Happy PAPpy.

Another 4+ hours until game time, this gap between morning and late West Coast game is too long. So here's another thread with a few links, and a quick assignment. Fill in the blank:

What I like most about John Tavares is his ____________.

It can be anything from the physical skill to the overall significance of his presence, and commitment to, the Islanders. Let us know in comments (my own is below), and if you're needing pre-game entertainment, further related and unrelated links below.

Me? I Like the Vision

I could easily say I like his commitment to constantly improving (something that is paying dividends with his skating and strength this year), or his attitude, or his hands in tight when he stickhandles like he's in a phone booth. But most of all I love his vision, because he's one of those rare players who sees things developing more thoroughly and sooner than his peers, and that's an elusive sense that's so hard to quantify but gets your mind spinning when you notice it at work.

Whether it's a backhand touch between the legs to the slot while he's being pinned against the boards (how many times has he set up Matt Moulson that way?) or his late setup of Kyle Okposo the other night where he (and Moulson, to be fair) drew bodies away from Kyle Okposo and then turned and fired the low-angle pass, his vision is something else. I guess you could call it awareness -- he's got that in spades too -- but the awareness requires the vision to see the lanes that will develop before they develop. To see that his passing options will emerge before they emerge. To look at a canvas of ice where most players see "gah, traffic, bang it against the boards. Or panic" and he sees, "In 1.5 seconds, bam."

If Tavares were a soccer player, he'd be a master at the perfectly timed through ball, the perfectly weighted lead pass, a perfectly touched flick on. If he were a football player he'd be the quarterback who is not agile yet remains frustratingly elusive to the rush, who hits receivers in stride, in the seam, before it's too late to have them get creamed by a salivating defensive back.

If he were a baseball player or basketball player I have no idea what he'd be 'cause those sports are weird.

That's how I see Tavares anyway. That's why I'm enjoying the hell out of watching him develop as an NHL player.

"Arugula. I haven't had arugula in six weeks." Links

So anyway, this was supposed to be a quickie to get you to rave about Tavares in fanboy mode. Or discuss links. Game preview is over there. FIGs are over here. We'll see you tonight as Evgeni Nabokov chases win #299.

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