Coach puts more weight on Tavares

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JONAS SIEGEL

Doug Weight has made at least one prom­i­nent change since he re­placed Jack Ca­puano be­hind the New York Islanders bench last month.

He’s ex­panded the role of his best player.

A four-time all-star him­self over al­most two decades in the NHL, Weight is us­ing cap­tain John Tavares more on the penalty kill than ever be­fore.

Tavares al­most never killed penal­ties be­fore this sea­son, to­talling just three min­utes and 29 sec­onds all of last sea­son and never more 13 min­utes in his first seven sea­sons.

Ca­puano started to change that this sea­son, but Weight has taken it to a whole new level, tripling Tavares’ short-handed ice-time in his brief term as Islanders head coach.

Tavares is av­er­ag­ing one minute and 32 sec­onds on the penalty kill un­der Weight — sec­ond to Niko­lay Kulemin among New York for­wards — com­pared with just 31 sec­onds un­der Ca­puano. It’s worked too. Not only has Tavares picked up a goal and as­sist short-handed since his du­ties were in­creased, but he’s been in­cred­i­bly ef­fec­tive in a small sam­ple size. New York has given up 93 shot at­tempts per 60 min­utes when Tavares is on the ice short­handed — the top mark on the team and sub­stan­tially bet­ter than team­mates like Casey Cizikas (113) and Cal Clut­ter­buck (125), both of whom were used heav­ily un­der Ca­puano.

Weight has cut time for Cizikas and Clut­ter­buck on the penalty kill as well as Josh Bai­ley and Brock Nel­son.

The Is­lan­der penalty kill has been in­cre­men­tally bet­ter since the coach­ing change, and hass an im­pres­sive 12-5-2 mark un­der Weight. RE­TURN OF THE KING L.A. got Jonathan Quick back from in­jury on Satur­day and then traded for fel­low 2015-16 Vez­ina tro­phy fi­nal­ist Ben Bishop as in­surance on Sun­day. But what the Kings could re­ally use is scor­ing boost in their bid to make the post-sea­son.

The club en­tered a Mon­day clash with the Wild car­ry­ing the NHL’s sev­enth-worst of­fence this sea­son, with Jeff Carter and Tan­ner Pear­son ac­count­ing for about a third of the goals. Only two other play­ers have reached dou­ble fig­ures in the goal depart­ment, and cap­tain Anze Ko­pi­tar has es­pe­cially strug­gled in the first year of a nine-year, US$80 mil­lion con­tract.

Ko­pi­tar had only six goals through the first 55 games, on pace for a ca­reer-low of nine.

Three years ago at the trade dead­line Dean Lom­bardi pried Mar­ian Ga­borik from Colum­bus for an of­fen­sive spark and he was a hit, scor­ing 14 goals and 22 points in 26 play­off games en route to a Stan­ley Cup. The Kings could use a sim­i­lar in­fu­sion at this year’s dead­line, es­pe­cially with Ga­borik, now 35, show­ing his age this sea­son.

HOTTEST PLAYER IN HOCKEY

Filip Fors­berg scored a ca­reer­high 33 goals last sea­son, but af­ter 27 games this year the Nashville Predators winger had found the back of the net just two times. He has scored 22 goals since, the most of any player in hockey. The 22year-old has been es­pe­cially hot of late, tal­ly­ing back-to-back hat tricks for Nashville last week be­fore adding a goal in each of the two games that fol­lowed. SAME OLD BRUCE Back when Bruce Boudreau was the Wash­ing­ton Capitals head coach, HBO’s 24/7 se­ries cap­tured him de­liv­er­ing a speech laced with pro­fan­i­ties. But that’s not the per­son Fred­erik An­der­sen got to know dur­ing three sea­sons with Boudreau in Ana­heim.

“It’s funny, ev­ery­one asks if he swears a lot be­cause of that 24/7 thing, but that couldn’t be pretty much more op­po­site of what (he) re­ally is like,” said An­der­sen, now with the aple Leafs. “He’s pretty pos­i­tive and only if things are un­ac­cept­able he’ll tell peo­ple ob­vi­ously and hold peo­ple ac­count­able.”

The most ef­fec­tive reg­u­lar sea­son head coach in NHL his­tory (.664 points per­cent­age en­ter­ing Mon­day’s ac­tion, tops among coaches with at least 500 games), Boudreau has the Min­nesota Wild headed for their best sea­son in fran­chise his­tory.

It’s noth­ing new. Boudreau had a .672 reg­u­lar sea­son points per­cent­age in Wash­ing­ton and a .648 clip in Ana­heim, dis­missed both times due to post-sea­son fail­ure.

“He makes peo­ple want to play for him harder,” An­der­sen said. “His record is amaz­ing and he’s done great pretty much ev­ery­where he’s gone. It’s im­pres­sive.”

RICHARD LAUTENS, TORONTO STAR

New York Islanders cap­tain John Tavares is see­ing in­creased du­ties un­der in­terim coach Doug Weight.

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