Originally posted on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 1/4/12

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 09: John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on January 9, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Islanders defeated the Coyotes 5-4 in an overtime shoot out. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

John Tavares is currently in his third NHL season with the New York Islanders and is continuing to prove why he was the first-overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, as well as why he is the face of the New York Islanders franchise and the heart of the New York Islanders offense.

This season, New York Islanders center John Tavares sports an "A" on his jersey to signify his title of Assistant Captain. That single letter visibly represents John Tavares’ title but John Tavares represents more to the New York Islanders than that title can express.

John Tavares began the current NHL season, most impressively, scoring eight points in a two-game span during the second week of October. Tavares has since quietly lifted the New York Islanders offense with a loud impact, continuing his offensive success by tallying a team-leading number of points. Recently, that quiet tallying of points has evolved into the completion of highlight-reel worthy plays, game-winning efforts, and the overall manifestation of a leader.

On Dec. 23, John Tavares displayed an incredible in-game effort as he met his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs team at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum - the home arena of the New York Islanders. The New York Islanders had battled back from a three-goal deficit with the help of goals from Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and a determined John Tavares. Tavares waited patiently before taking a shot that ultimately beat Leafs goaltender James Reimer at 10:30 into the third period. Tavares’ eleventh goal of the season stole the momentum from the Maple Leafs and inspired the Islanders to increase their pressure in the Islanders offensive zone. Nassau Coliseum transformed from a lethargic first and second period atmosphere to boisterous third period cheering crowd. The crowd’s energy positively matched the energy of the motivated and unwavering Islanders team. Tavares practically took his team on his back for the remainder of the third period. Although the effort was eventually stalled by the officiating in a 5-3 loss, the tenacity of John Tavares proved to be infectious to his team. He refused to give up and had set an example for his team. He even convinced the fans that a comeback was possible.

John Tavares kept the fire in his heart while extinguishing the Calgary Flames opposition on Dec. 29. Tavares tallied an assist on a goal that tied the game at one goal apiece in the second period. In the third period, John Tavares skated with the puck through all three zones and around the Calgary defense to stun Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff with a highlight-reel-worthy coast-to-coast goal. Tavares’ twelfth goal of the season proved to be the game-winner, giving the Islanders their first lead of the night. The New York Islanders ultimately celebrated a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames in which John Tavares was named the first star of the game.

For the second consecutive game, John Tavares effortlessly displayed his outstanding playmaking ability. After scoring the first goal of the game, Tavares created the second scoring opportunity. Tavares glided through two Oilers defenseman and made a spin-o-rama pass to his linemate Matt Moulson, who then netted the game-winning goal at 17:55 in the first period. Tavares briefly left the game in the second period, after a late hit from Oilers defenseman Andy Sutton, and was greeted with applause from the Nassau Coliseum crowd as he skated onto the ice in his return. The response of the crowd illustrates just how much he means to the Islanders franchise. He was also given the same reaction as he was deservingly awarded the first star of the game for the second game in a row. In addition, the New York Islanders defeated the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 4-1.

The New York Islanders won their third consecutive game on Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes in a 4-3 shootout victory at the RBC Center. The win was virtually willed by John Tavares, who assisted on all three Islanders regulation goals. He was named the first star for the third consecutive game and has seven points (2 G, 5 A) in this three-game span.

Through 37 games, John Tavares leads his New York Islanders team with 34 points (13 G, 21 A). John Tavares is also adding leadership qualities off the score sheet. His determination on the ice is transferable to his team and every scoring opportunity and chance he creates is impressive. Tavares is noticeably emerging as a star in the NHL.

John Tavares deserves to wear a "C" on his chest as he matures within the next few years. He already embodies the qualities of a leader and represents that "A" very well. Most of all, aside from his individual success, John Tavares is putting his team on his back and taking his team with him on the road to victory.

Vote for John Tavares, as well as your favorite NHL players to appear in the 2012 All-Star game: here.

picture courtesy of tumblr.com

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