"It'd be nice if one of you guys could do this every now and then." - Bruce Bennett
John Tavares can't play 60 minutes a game, and the Islanders need their other forwards to start chipping in where it counts: on the scoreboard.
You don't need to watch every Islanders game to know that John Tavares is the heart and soul of the team. Regardless, even someone as good as Johnny can use a little help from his friends every once in a while.
Unfortunately, the Islanders, and their forwards in particular, have done a poor job providing Tavares with the necessary support when it comes to scoring goals. This problem is most apparent at even strength, where most of the forwards not on the first line get their ice time.
A look at the numbers so far this season shows a disturbing trend towards over reliance on Tavares and the first line.
2012-13 Season (Through 19 games):
|Total Even Strength Goals||35|
|Even Strength Goals W/ Tavares||18|
|Even Strength Goals W/O Tavares||17|
The split doesn't seem bad when you look at the numbers for the whole season. I wouldn't think it unreasonable expecting a little less than half of your even strength goals to come when your first line is on the ice. With Tavares getting so much ice time, you'd almost have to expect it.
It's when you start to break the season up into stretches that the numbers start to become concerning.
Islanders First 7 Games:
|Total Even Strength Goals||17|
|Even Strength Goals W/ Tavares||7|
|Even Strength Goals W/O Tavares||10|
Through the first seven games, the Islanders were averaging 3.85 goals per game and had a 4-2-1 record. At even strength, the club was scoring more goals when Tavares wasn't on the ice. They received even strength goals from Keith Aucoin (3), Michael Grabner (2), David Ullstrom (2), Brad Boyes, Mark Streit, and Casey Cizikas.
Things started to sour when the Isles returned home from their five-game road trip.
Islanders Next 12 Games:
|Total Even Strength Goals||18|
|Even Strength Goals W/ Tavares||11|
|Even Strength Goals W/O Tavares||7|
In the 12 games since, the Islanders have averaged 2.33 goals per game and have a 4-8 record. The 7 even strength goals without Tavares on the ice were scored by Grabner (2), Colin McDonald (2), Travis Hamonic, and Frans Nielsen.
A lot of names are absent from that list [insert guy you're hating at the present time here], but it remains that unless John Tavares is on the ice, scoring at even strength has been practically non-existent.
The fact that the team scored 17 even strength goals in their first 7 games but only 1 more than that (18) in its next 12 games is a bad sign for a team that's looking to make the step to the next level.
The Islanders have had their share of excuses as to why they have not been able to get back to the .500 mark since starting the season 4-3-1 (goaltending, defense, coaching), and there is no denying that they have all been factors.
But when 3/4 of your forward lines are failing to score at even strength with any regularity, your team is going to have a hard time winning more games than they lose.