Tavares, Vanek click, but Isles still need goalie
In the past week or so, Snow has watched Thomas Vanek strike a strong chemistry with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo on the Isles’ top line, which must have been exactly what he envisioned when he sent Matt Moulson, plus first- and second-round draft picks to the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 27 in exchange for the Austrian sniper. But as the losses mount on Long Island, we can’t help but wonder if watching Vanek and Co. go to work on opposition goalies is only serving to remind Snow what his team’s biggest need is—and was all along—somebody who can stop the puck.
At the time of the transaction, about the only favourable commentary on the Vanek deal from the Isles’ perspective centred on how Snow, if nothing else, was boldly trying to push his squad forward. After putting a serious six-game shake into the Pittsburgh Penguins during the playoffs last spring, the Islanders appeared to be headed in the right direction following years lost at sea. When I went to Long Island for a Sportsnet magazine feature on Tavares during the first week of the season, there was a sense this young team was ready to take the next step. Two months later, the Islanders have more non-shootout wins than exactly one team in the NHL—their trade partners in Buffalo—and are mired in a seven-game losing streak after blowing a two-goal lead against those same Penguins Tuesday night.