Isles Send Gold Medalist Goalie To The Bench, Silence Vancouver Media

Put that as your headline, Vancouver.

Last night the Islanders visited the Canucks and defeated them 5-2, ending their seven game home winning streak. John Tavares exploded with a five point effort, a new career high that paved the way for the win.

The Islanders started the game with a very strong first period, coming away with a 2-0 lead on eight shots. The goals came from defenseman Dylan Reese with his first of his career and John Tavares, his second goal in the past four games. The Islanders were led by Tavares' work ethic throughout the first twenty minutes, having drawn a power play, setting up Reese's shot, and scoring a goal of his own. It was clear that John wanted to do everything he could to help his team win against a much more talented opponent.

In the second period the Islanders only mustered four shots on net but managed to score two more goals, this time from Matt Moulson and Freddy Meyer, both of which Tavares assisted on. Not only was John providing offense for his team, but he was doing a lot of the little things that many fans may not notice. He drew another power play in the second when he was hooked behind the Canucks net; he was blocking shots; he was making smart plays that led to others scoring goals; and he was back-checking effectively to prevent goals as well.

His inspiring play was accompanied by his teammates. Dwayne Roloson stayed sharp, having stopped 17 of 19 shots in the second period, knocking aside a total of 35 for the game. Although the Islanders only had four shots in the second, there were many opportunities where the Isles may have only been a half-inch away from putting the game out of reach: Trent Hunter sent a back-hander off the crossbar; Josh Bailey had a breakaway that hit the post; Moulson fired one off the iron; and Tavares slapped a one-timer that found nothing but the pipe. The Islanders were generating scoring chances all game and were able to send the former Isles draft pick and recent Gold medal Olympian, Roberto Luongo, to the bench at the start of the third period.

Although the Islanders have proven that they can compete with opponents who may be more skilled than they are, there was a major reason why the Islanders were inspired to earn a victory against this Western Conference opponent.

They wanted to prove they are NHL hockey players. After all, they played pretty well for a team of AHL and ECHL players, didn't they?

I say that because The Province reporter, Gordon McIntyre, referred to the Isles as AHL/ECHL'ers before the start of last night's game in an article he wrote that day. It was an article that portrayed the Canucks as the superior team that shouldn't have any trouble playing a team like the Islanders. Here are a few quotes that come straight from the story.

"This year, especially with the slew of injuries they have at the moment, the Isles look more like the mixed squad of AHL and ECHL players the squad sent in preseason to Terrace for Kraft Hockeyville to face a likewise no-name Canucks lineup last fall."

Yup, a team of AHL and ECHL players that beat the Canucks 5-2 on their home ice.

Keep in mind that professional reporters are supposed to check the facts before they publish them. It's a process of verification that all reporters must go through, to ensure that their stories are fair, balanced and transparent.

"Their leading goal-getter, who plays on the top line with John Tavares, is Matt Coulson, playing his first full season at age 26.

Twenty-five goals is pretty good for a guy who had all of six in 29 career games prior to this season -- and maybe he's the next Alex Burrows, but the Canucks have three skaters with more than 25 goals and Daniel Sedin would be in that group, too, had he not missed 18 games with a broken foot."

Matt Coulson? Ahem...I think you mean Matt Moulson. I'm sure he got his name right after he scored his team leading 26th goal last night. Spelling a player's name wrong, especially one that has accomplished a lot this season, is a sign of laziness and disrespect. It was even more disrespectful to overshadow his accomplishments by listing the all-stars that have done more than Moulson when he is only in his first full NHL season.

Then he went on to John Tavares.

"But it's on Tavaresthat the weight of the franchise rests.

Overshadowed by Matt Duchene in Colorado and Tyler Myers in Buffalo (and with Atlanta's Niclas Bergfors also in the mix), Tavares is not favoured to win the Calder Trophy that everyone, it seems, but Don Cherry had already stencilled his name on when he finally became draft eligible last June.

Tavares came out of the gate with guns blazing -- 15 goals in his first 31 games.

But the NHL did what it does to teenagers who struggle to keep 190 pounds on their 6-foot frames -- Ed Jovanovski, for instance, got a two-game suspension for elbowing Tavares in the head -- and Tavares has just three goals in his last 35 games."

I have spoken with John personally this year. I have also heard his teammates and coaching staff talk about the first overall pick all year long. Not once did he or his teammates make any excuses for his offensive struggles over the second half of the season. Why does McIntyre have to downplay the kids' abilities to compete in the NHL? The next sentence does point out that he is just a few points below Stamkos' offensive output of last season, and then goes on to say that Stamkos might score 46 goals this year, suggesting that Tavares may turn out the same way. However, this was done after he disrespectfully insulted John and his teammates.

In addition, if anyone saw the Jovanovski hit on Tavares, he deserved the suspension as there was no need to elbow him in the head, especially with all the commotion going around the league in reference to head shots.

Last year McIntyre called the Islanders an "old-timer's team," and even referenced to that article in the story that was published yesterday. The orange and blue posted the article on their locker-room wall for motivation and defeated the Canucks in a 2-1 shootout victory at the Coliseum. This year the Isles did the same thing and were able to beat them with a 5-2 thumping in regulation.

If you would like to read the article, it can be found here:
http://www.theprovince.com/sports/guarantee+this+time/2687401/story.html

When I heard Billy Jaffe become outraged about the article during the game last night, I needed to find it for myself. I knew I was going to write about it and felt that I should check the facts first before I vented my frustrations.

I went to Google and typed "Vancouver newspaper Isles/Canucks." I found an article from the Vancouver Sun in which Luongo was interviewed about facing his former team. Although it was a nicely written piece, it wasn't the story I needed. At the top of the Vancouver Sun page was a search toolbar. I typed in what I knew and entered, "Matt Coulson." Sure enough, a link was provided to the story from The Province.

Sure, the Canucks are a team fighting for home-ice advantage in the playoffs and the Islanders are a team on the outside looking in, better poised for a top draft pick than a run at the Cup. But next time, be classy and respect your opponents. Maybe then you can guarantee a win.

-Rob McGowan

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