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Tavares Eager for Season

John Tavares has put his season-ending knee injury behind him and is excited about the Islanders new look.

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 11:21 AM / News
By Cory Wright
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Tavares Eager for Season
John Tavares has put his season-ending knee injury behind him and is excited about the Islanders new look.

For a born winner and fierce competitor like John Tavares, a six-month summer break is just too long.

Sure, the weather’s nice and having some downtime with friends and family is great, but the Islanders captain would rather work through June.

“While the summer’s been good for other reasons, it’s been too long and I want to change that this coming season,” Tavares said. “It’s probably the longest stretch I’ve ever gone without playing. I’m looking forward to training camp and I want to finish off the summer strong and come into the year motivated with a lot to prove.”

Tavares sustained a season-ending knee injury while playing for Team Canada at the Winter Olympics in February. He played his last NHL game on Feb. 8.

Tavares missed the Islanders final 22 games, but fortunately the injury didn’t require surgery and Tavares began rehabbing immediately following his return to Long Island. He progressed through his off-ice therapy and was cleared for full skating activity in mid-May, when he began practicing with the OHL’s London Knights.

Now, two-and-a-half-months later, the Islanders captain is working through his annual rigorous offseason training regiment and putting the injury behind him.

“It’s been a really good summer from a training aspect,” Tavares said. “It’s nice to focus on what I really need to work on, what I need to get better at and to get in the best shape I can for the season.”

As well as the summer workouts have gone physically, the long break can take a mental toll, especially on a competitor and leader like Tavares. He is chomping at the bit to get back on the ice with the Islanders, who have done their part to ensure a shorter offseason in 2015.

“The competition in camp might be the highest it’s been since I’ve been here,” Tavares said. “Certainly that’s going to push us individually and as a team. Not only are guys fighting for roles and ice time, but it also will help us as a team, bringing us together and pushing one another to be better as a group.”

Tavares said that he’s excited to return to Long Island and play with the Islanders new acquisitions; Jaroslav Halak, Chad Johnson, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. Halak and Johnson represent a complete overhaul of the Islanders crease, while Grabovski and Kulemin headline an influx of talent and depth up front. The Islanders also signed Cory Conacher, a speedy, skilled forward who will increase the competition at training camp.

“Goaltending was something [General Manager] Garth [Snow] addressed right away. It’s something he wanted to provide more stability with,” Tavares said. “I’ve always talked about the presence Evgeni Nabokov had in our lockerroom, but we’re bringing in a pretty young goaltender with some great numbers over his career. Year in and year out, he’s pretty consistent.”

Returning a healthy Tavares adds more to the Islanders lineup than any free agent could. The 23-year-old was the NHL’s third-leading scorer at the time of his injury, posting 66 points (24G, 42A) in 59 games, and was a Hart Trophy finalist for league MVP in 2012-13.

Training camp is a month-and-a-half away, so it won’t be long until Tavares trades off-ice workouts for morning skates and summertime blues for Islander blue and orange.

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
3 NYI 62 40 20 2 200 173 82
4 TBL 62 37 19 6 203 167 80
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 62 33 19 10 184 156 76
8 BOS 60 29 22 9 158 158 67
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 61 25 27 9 137 161 59
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 59 22 30 7 134 159 51
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 62 29 34 4 63
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 62 13 26 21 39
B. Nelson 62 17 19 6 36
F. Nielsen 62 11 25 11 36
A. Lee 56 20 12 12 32
J. Bailey 50 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 52 7 22 15 29
N. Leddy 62 8 17 14 25
T. Hamonic 52 4 19 16 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 32 13 0 .910 2.49
C. Johnson 8 7 1 .890 2.95

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