5 questions for the Islanders

John Tavares skates for the first time during

John Tavares skates for the first time during practice in Syosset. (Jan. 11, 2013) (Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy)

Will health be an issue?

It's already a problem, and physicals haven't even taken place yet. Josh Bailey is out up to a month, Travis Hamonic is just returning from a concussion and we don't know what other ailments will crop up this week.

 

Is team depth a problem?

When the 2011-12 Isles hit scoring and defensive funks, they didn't have capable call-ups to effect real change. Bridgeport will need to provide real options in case of injury or poor play.

 

And the goaltender is . . .

Evgeni Nabokov enters camp as the No. 1 goaltender, which means he'll need to be sharp and play 35-40 games in the shortened schedule. That also means Rick DiPietro has to be patient and effective in a backup role.

 

What about John Tavares?

The Isles' top player has to be just that once again, and even better than he was during an occasionally impressive 2011-12.

 

Where will the scoring come from?

Whoever isn't on the top line with Tavares still has to produce, and that goes for veterans like Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner to young guys like Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Strome.

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