John Tavares’ 500th game as an Islander was noteworthy to all his teammates as well as one former teammate who helped Tavares mature into an effective captain and leader.
“He’s grown a lot,” said Mark Streit, who was the Islanders captain for two seasons before Tavares took over in 2013-14. “He came in as an 18-year-old, really young and raw talent. He always had a great personality and a dedication to hockey. He’s obviously unique and has a willingness to win. I’ve always known from the beginning that he’s going to be a good leader and all the great leaders lead by example.”
Streit, now with the Flyers, and Tavares have been close since Tavares came into the league in 2009. The two share an agent and played together in Streit’s hometown of Bern, Switzerland during the 2012 lockout.
And Tavares has often cited Streit’s quiet approach to the captaincy as one he tries to emulate.
“The way he leads, the way he competes and wants to play great in every game, it’s great for the young guys coming along,” Streit said. “He’s a great guy, but a humble guy. To reach 500 is another huge accomplishment.”
Tavares became the 27th Islander to play 500 games with the club and the third this season, following Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo. Frans Nielsen passed that mark last season and is four away from No. 600, which would be 12th in franchise history.
No changes for Isles
Jack Capuano stuck with the same group that played in Saturday’s 3-0 loss to the Stars in Dallas, albeit with some jumbled forward lines once again. Anders Lee and Ryan Strome began Monday’s game flanking Tavares, Nikolay Kulemin and Okposo were with Nielsen and Shane Prince and Bailey were with Brock Nelson.
Familiar faces back for Philly
Along with Streit, who has been back as a regular for the Flyers defense after missing six weeks in November and December, Andrew MacDonald is back with the big club and in the defense rotation after spending much of the season in the AHL. MacDonald, who signed a six-year, $30 million contract two seasons ago, played his 17th game of the season with the Flyers on Monday alongside talented rookie Shayne Gostisbehere, who was MacDonald’s defense partner for a brief stretch playing for former Islander coach Scott Gordon in Lehigh Valley.