Kukla's Korner

How Will Tavares Compare?

In his first NHL game, John Tavares scored a goal and put up a secondary assist on a Mark Streit goal. For what it’s worth, those two points beat out the first games of Sidney Crosby (one assist), Patrick Kane (scoreless), and Evgeni Malkin (one goal). Of course, those guys turned out to be ok players (though not necessarily the best car passengers), and history has given us plenty of brilliant starts that tailed off into oblivion.

Then there’s the slow starters: Steven Stamkos took a half-season and a mullet-less coach to get going while Eric Staal and Joe Thornton had pretty unspectacular rookie years. Where will Tavares end up? Let’s look at how Crosby, Kane, Malkin, and Alex Ovechkin did in their first ten games.

Crosby’s first ten games
New Jersey 0G, 1A
Carolina 0G, 1A
Boston 1G, 2A
Buffalo 0G, 1A
Philadelphia 1G, 1A
Tampa Bay 0G, 1A
New Jersey 0G, 0A
Boston 0G, 2A
Florida 0G, 1A
Atlanta 0G, 2A

Malkin’s first ten games:
New Jersey 1G, 0A
New York Islanders 1G, 1A
Columbus 1G, 0A
New Jersey 1G, 1A
Philadelphia 1G, 2A
Los Angeles 2G, 0A
San Jose 0G, 0A
Anaheim 0G, 1A
Tampa Bay 0G, 0A
Ottawa 1G, 1A

Kane’s first ten games:
Minnesota 0G, 1A
Detroit 0G, 1A
San Jose 0G, 1A
Detroit 0G, 1A
Dallas 0G, 1A
St. Louis 0G, 0A
Colorado 1G, 2A
Toronto 0G, 2A
Columbus 2G, 2A
Boston 0G, 0A

Ovechkin’s first ten games:
Columbus 2G, 0A
Atlanta 0G, 1A
Atlanta 0G, 1A
New York Rangers 1G, 0A
Carolina 1G, 0A
New York Islanders 0G, 1A
Tampa Bay 0G, 1A
Florida 2G, 0A
Carolina 0G, 0A
Buffalo 0G, 1A

Each of these elite players maintained a strong level of consistency from the get-go. They were all also on pretty bad teams that gave plenty of ice time to their budding young stars because, well, there weren’t too many other options to go for. On the flip side, Stamkos didn’t have an NHL point until his eighth game—of course, Barry Melrose was only playing Stamkos around 10 minutes a night and didn’t give him any power play time. As his natural skills matured and he started working with a coach that knew how to utilize him, Stamkos started putting up numbers on a fairly consistent basis. In April and March of last season, he only had five nights without a goal or an assist. At least Stamkos only took half a season to get going; plenty of current NHL stars (Thornton, Staal, etc.) needed about three years to really get it together. However, that could be more due to the nature of pre-lockout vs. post-lockout NHL.

Tavares goes into a situation where he’s already on the power play and will get 15-20 minutes of ice time right off the bat. Going into his second game tonight, he’ll certainly have the chance to establish a point-scoring streak and show the consistency that players like Ovechkin and Malkin did early on in their careers. On a rebuilding team, someone’s gotta score eventually, and if Tavares is put in the situation to succeed, there’s no reason why he won’t be at least somewhat successful.

Just don’t expect any exciting quotes out of him. Remember, he’s a good Canadian lad and well-groomed in PR speak.

Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: alexander+ovechkin, evgeni+malkin, john+tavares, patrick+kane, sidney+crosby, steven+stamkos

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