Do The Right Thing Jack, Reunite Tavares and Moulson
What do the tandems of stars like St. Louis-Stamkos, Kane-Toews, and Zetterberg-Datsyuk have in common with the Islanders young pair of Moulson-Tavares? They are all at the top of the league, for the past several years, at combined points while on the ice together.
This is the type of scoring duo the Islanders have not seen since the likes of Trottier and Bossy of the early ‘80s. So for a team that has been starving to find the back of the net, the only thing that seems to make sense is to feed their hunger by splitting this dynamic duo up and “balance the lineup more”. Well at least this makes sense to Coach Jack Capuano.
Matt Moulson has been a 30 goal scorer every season he’s been on Long Island and his point totals have also increased dramatically every year, with the exception of last year’s lockout shortened season. John Tavares has totaled at least 30 assists in his three full seasons in the NHL, and just like Moulson, his total points keep rising. This just must be a coincidence, right? This doesn’t mean that they’ve formed a solid rapport on the ice that helps them score more, right?
JT was a finalist for the MVP award last season and has the skill offensively to carry any line himself. He makes everyone around him better (i.e. P.A. Parenteau and Brad Boyes just to name a few), but no one has enjoyed more success than Moulson.
The season is a mere 7 games old, but for the last two contests Matt Moulson found himself on a line with Cal Clutterbuck and Peter Regin; two forwards that are more known for their defensive qualities than play making skills. Moulson looks lost on the ice and is trying to do way too much. Moulson’s exasperation seems to subside as soon as he lines up for a power play with Tavares taking the draw.
All of this could just be a false reading of body language and play on the ice or it could be spot on criticism. But losing to a winless Buffalo team and squeaking out a victory of a one win Edmonton team at home after the line change seems to strengthen the latter, however.
Sometimes coaches seem to overthink things. Capuano was handed a top line headed by these two players, but for some reason he wants to disturb their growth and development after a mediocre couple of games. Could you imagine Phil Jackson playing Scottie Pippen on the second unit during the Michael Jordan era? Or Bill Parcells playing Carl Banks just on 3rd down, rather than every down, with Lawrence Taylor on the other side?
The start of the season is a time for every player to shake off the rust of the summer offseason. Five games is a microcosm of the 82 game NHL season. There is no need to panic. You cannot get into the playoffs in October, but you can lose enough to count yourself out of it.
Coach Capuano tried to reinvent the wheel back in May in the playoffs against the Penguins and unfortunately it didn’t work then either. Sometimes consistency is the best medicine for athletes that are creatures of habit.
Now let’s understand that changing personnel is a common tactic used by hockey coaches to shake things up and hopefully catch lightning in a bottle, but like the old saying goes if it aint broke don’t fix it.