I’ve been more than content with Thomas Vanek’s start with the Islanders even before Saturday night’s win against the Bruins. Fans and even writers here at Eyes on Isles can put their analyst hats on and break down the deal as best they can, but I think it has been a combination of stubborn speculation and nerves.
You can tell Vanek was just finding his feet in the first few nights, but he still looked solid. Matt Moulson’s two-goal debut for Buffalo did not help ease Islander fans’ mind-sets, and a loss to the Rangers the next night certainly had everyone in a sour mood.
Getting his first assist against the Senators on Friday night might have taken loads of pressure off the Austrian and the win must have meant much more.
I mean, that night in Ottawa was the first time in five years the team won a game without Moulson as a member of the team. Rejoice Islanders fans, the team is capable of winning without what used to be the lovable thick eye-browed, blue-collar embodiment of an up and coming organization.
That’s all water under the bridge now and the Islanders have a stud in Thomas Vanek who is currently helping create one of the most feared lines in the NHL. Kyle Okposo has been an assisting machine with 13 on the season. He set up Vanek’s first goal with the team on Saturday night, leading a two-on-one rush down the right wing, slotting a beautiful pass that was cake for the newest Isle to convert. Now put those two with John Tavares. Enough said.
While I say Vanek is settled, it doesn’t mean that he can’t improve. The more he gets accustomed to the system and the cause, the more likely he’ll be able to play his own game, which hockey fans know is an entertaining brand. It’s imperative that he shows aggression and is not afraid to let that puck fly. That will come in due time.
But for now, the Islanders just beat the defending Eastern Conference Champions in convincing fashion. Enjoy that for a moment, because Tuesday brings a four-game road trip that starts in the nation’s capital and the Islanders are going to need Vanek and company to make a statement to the league.