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Last Week Tonight: Tavares “week-to-week” with lower body injury


MSG Network

Collective fears have been (somewhat, mysteriously) realized with the announcement from the Islanders that John Tavares will be out for an extended period of time with an injury sustained in last night’s 2-1 win over New Jersey. I’d love to say this is an elaborate April Fools Day prank, but alas it is not.

Update: As judgegavel already spoiled in the comments, the Islanders have recalled forward Connor Jones from Bridgeport. He has five goals and 13 assists in 56 games with the Sound Tigers this season, playing a lot of minutes with his brother Kellen. This is the Quinnipiac product’s first NHL recall.

Here’s the video of Tavares’ injury again. While passing behind the Devils’ net, Tavares stepped awkwardly between the ice and the net’s base, fell and clutched the back of his thigh. He was helped off the ice as the rest of the team finished off the win.

Cal Clutterbuck had harsh words for Barclays Center’s ice conditions, something we went a few glorious weeks without hearing about. I’m not doubting Cal’s assessment, but I wonder if the net was more at fault than the ice. Regardless, Tavares getting hurt is tough on everyone.

Cal Clutterbuck was disgusted about the poor ice surface that claimed his captain.

“You see a guy’s heel dig in like that, it doesn’t happen other places,” Clutterbuck said. “It’s something that doesn’t get addressed . . . It was a little worse [than it’s been]. It had been a little better the last few games, but not tonight.”

As noted by our own Les on Twitter, “week-to-week” is a funny thing to say when the Islanders season most likely has exactly one week left. The win over the last place Devils on Friday kept the Islanders’ slim playoff hopes alive, but they’re gonna need a ton of help in order to be the one team left standing in the final playoff berth in the East come next Sunday. Not having their captain, leading scorer (28g, 38a for 66 pts) and face of the franchise around for that week makes things exponentially more difficult.

Josh Bailey is second on the team with a career-high 52 points (13g, 39a), followed by Anders Lee’s 46 points. Lee’s total includes 29 goals, one more than Tavares has.

It’s not that teams haven’t found success after losing a star player. Hey, you never know. But with the way this season has gone - with curious no-show performances and questionable line-up decisions, even with Tavares having another excellent campaign - it’s hard to figure the Islanders survive let alone excel during the next five games without him.

Notice how I haven’t mentioned how this impacts that whole free agency thing, yet? Let’s, uh, get through the next few games first before we worry about that.

The Islanders’ next game is tomorrow afternoon in Buffalo, which will feature another injury of note to readers of this and other Islanders blogs:

Get better soon, John. Whether or not your team is still on the ice when you are.