In a way, the John Tavares line has been so good it's making the Islanders' other lines look bad. As the team takes its 3-1 record on its first road trip, against Tampa Bay Thursday night and Florida on Saturday, the Tavares-P.A. Parenteau-Matt Moulson combo has accounted for eight of the team's 11 goals and 11 of its 18 assists.
Which hasn't left much for the second line of Frans Nielsen (1-0-1), Kyle Okposo (0-1-1) and Michael Grabner (1-0-1). Or the third group of Josh Bailey (0-0-0), Brian Rolston (0-1-1) and Blake Comeau (0-0-0). Comeau, after being scratched from Saturday's game against the Rangers, has resumed skating with his offensive partners and coach Jack Capuano, while acknowledging a need, insisted Wednesdayhe is optimistic about spreading around the offensive production.
"I'm not going to blow the lines up right now or start to dismantle anything," Capuano said. "If they were getting chances, that's one thing, but right now they're not getting too many chances in the games we've played. So we'll keep 'em together and, hopefully, it will come for those guys. I'm hoping it'll come for the other lines."
Capuano had made it a point, when Tavares failed to score in his first two games, that he had no intention of pressuring Tavares because "his work ethic was great when he wasn't putting the puck in the net. Same approach with the other lines. They've been successful before. They know what they need to do, and sometimes it takes a little bit of time, like it did with Johnny's line.
"So I'm not messing with those guys at all. I'm not going to show them negativity or any kind of video. I know they're going to come around . . . and we'll get that secondary scoring."
With Grabner returning from a breakout 34-goal season, with Nielsen following a solid 13-goal, 31-assist year and Okposo healthy again after playing only 38 games (5 goals, 15 assists) following shoulder surgery, the expectations are high, and Capuano said he can't pinpoint a cause for the drought.
"They've got to shoot the puck a little more and get to the net for sure," Capuano said. "But they're a group that's very creative. They've got great hockey sense, great vision. It's going to come."
And that goes, he said, for the Bailey line as well.
Notes & quotes: G Rick DiPietro (concussion) participated in drills and went on the Florida trip, as did D Milan Jurcina (groin), though Jurcina still hasn't been through a team workout since training camp. F Nino Niederreiter (groin) skated but did not make the trip.