THE TALE OF TWO REBUILDING TEAMS
The New York Islanders have struggled in recent years and as a result the team is currently going through a rebuilding process.
A few years ahead of the Flames--who just launched their rebuild near the end of last season. The Islanders kicked things off with the 2009 NHL Draft, selecting John Tavares, who has become one of the NHL's most lethal forwards.
"They’re not where they want to be, they’re rebuilding and they started that rebuild a few years [ago]," Flames coach Bob Hartley said on Thursday. "But you look at the kids they have and you look at the way they operate their NHL team [and] their AHL team. They’re going strictly with kids--those kids like [John] Taveres, [Kyle] Okposo and those guys [you can] see their progression."
"That’s the way that Chicago and Pittsburgh went a few years ago and it worked for them. It’s going to work for the Islanders and it’s going to work for us also."
Hartley draws some comparisons of his club and the Isles, and thinks Sean Monahan, like Tavares, will only get better with time.
"Right now we’re seeing Tavares, year-after-year, getting better," The Flames coach said after the morning skate at Nassau veterans Memorial Coliseum. "But this year [I] feel that his game got to another level—and that’s what’s’ going to happen to Monahan, it won’t happen overnight but you need to be patient with those young players."
the Flames coach admitted that having patience with a young group and players like Monahan is key to moving the process along and points to the Islanders as a team that's already showing sins of improvement.
"The Islanders, Garth Snow and Jack Capuano, they put lots of trust and patience in those young kids and you see the team, they’re not where they want to be in the standings but you see the team competing in more and more games and winning more and more games," Hartley said. "They are going to become a good hockey club so that’s the road that we’re taking also -- I draw definite parallels between Tavares and Monahan."
Monahan will o head-to-head with Tavares tonight, something the Flames pivot is excited about.
It's cool to play against him [Tavares]. He's a guy that I looked up to since I was a bit younger. he's a good player and it's exciting--it's always a challenge and I'm looking forward to it.
Islanders pivot John Tavares has put on a clinic this season.
The 23-year-old has put up is on pace for a career season with the Islanders collecting 23 goals and 64 points in just 57 games this season.
Bob Hartley touched on Tavares' speed--especially through the neutral zone--as a factor and limiting turnovers against his line.
"Once he hits the neutral zone at full speed with the puck, he becomes very dangerous," said Hartley. "Turnovers against that line will be a key factor--and making sure that he doesn’t get the puck at full speed so our angling will have to be at its best."
Tavares has been held pointless in his last four games but prior to that the Oakville, Ontario native produced 26 points in 16 contests.
BYRON READY TO GO
In an effort to jump start the Flames offence, Bob Hartley is dressing Paul Byron tonight.
"I create a lot off [chances] from that, I get my chances, get a lot of checks and cause a lot of turnovers causing havoc for the team so I need to get my legs moving right away in this game." said Byron from the Flames locker room on Thursday.
Byron has been practicing regularly with the team but hasn't seen game action since January 24th when the Flames faced the Nashville Predators. He says going into the Olympic break on a high note would o a long way.
"We need to play hard and be ready to battle," said Byron. "We had a great stretch there of home hockey but we’re back on the road now and we need to win some hockey games here and hopefully get some good momentum going into the [Olympic] break."
All time vs. NY Islanders: 30-21-8-0-1
At NY Islanders: 12-19-4-1-0
Season Series: 1-0
Last game at NYI: Dec 29, 2011 – CGY 1 at NYI 3
Last win at NYI: Jan 6, 2004 – CGY 3 at NYI 2
Last win at CGY: Jan 8, 2009 CGY 5 vs. NYI 2
LAST TEN NYI VS. CGY: 7-2-0-0-1
The last three matches between Calgary and New York at the Scotiabank Saddledome has seen the winnin team score five times.
LAST TEN GAMES IN LONG ISLAND: 6-4-0-0-0
The Flames prevailed in six straight contests at Nassau Coliseum but have dropped their past three, last winning in Long Island on Jan 6, 2004.
CAREER FIRSTS AGAINST THE ISLANDERS:
Tonight's battle with the islanders will be broadcast on Sportsnet Flames (TV) and Sportsnet 960 The FAN (radio).
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