John Tavares and Islanders continue to struggle
John Tavares rose from his seat inside the Islanders' locker room. He answered the ensuing questions about his recent inability to score, about the team's recent offensive struggles and about how critical it is for both of those things to change.
His answers included non-verbal cues. A rub of the face. A shrug. A shake of the head.
Among the questions he faced Saturday after the host Islanders' 3-2 loss to the Ducks: What has happened to you and what has happened to this team lately?
The captain is still trying to figure those things out.
"It's hard to say right now because obviously we're not getting the results and it's frustrating," said Tavares, who was held without a point for the sixth time in the last eight games.
Jack Capuano shuffled the lines before the game, putting Tavares with Anders Lee and Josh Bailey. That line excelled when Kyle Okposo missed 22 games because of a detached retina. The change didn't remedy Tavares' woes, however.
He admittedly had his chances Saturday. He missed from point-blank range on a shot set up nicely by Bailey early in the first period. Tavares had another good look when the Islanders had a five-on-three advantage for 1:54 in the second period yet failed to score. He was denied by goalie Frederik Andersen on a shot from the right circle.
"It's clear that I have had chances, especially today,'' said Tavares, who despite the scoring slump is third in the NHL with 74 points. "I have to be better than the goaltender. When you get those opportunities, you have to be better. I have to be better there.''
With the Islanders falling to 0-6-1 in their last seven at home and 1-6-1 in their last eight overall, Capuano said it's hard for a guy like Tavares -- who routinely accepts fault and blames himself when things aren't going well -- to avoid trying to do too much on the ice.
"At the same time, he wants to have success and wants to do whatever it takes,'' Capuano said.
With six games left and the Islanders third in the Metropolitan Division -- they have 93 points, as do the Penguins, but Pittsburgh has a game in hand and one more victory in regulation or overtime -- Tavares stated the obvious: He needs to find a way to get going -- now.
"It starts with me,'' Tavares said. "A lot of guys look to me for the way we need to play. I think you have that responsibility as captain. So I accept that challenge and what comes with that.''