John Tavares a penalty killer? That's probably not something anyone expected before this season began, but circumstance has forced JT into the unfamiliar role and he's thriving in it.
Newsday's Art Staple took a look at Tavares' impact on the PK since Jack Capuano tried him out there last week in Boston. Since he joined the unit, New York is 9-for-9 on the kill.
"You get those few seconds after the draw and they don't get a chance to set up, that's a big help," Tavares' kill partner Nikolai Kulemin told Staple. "JT, he's been in the PK meetings with us for a long time, he knows what we're doing and how we do it."
Having JT's ability to win a big draw on the PK is a huge advantage, and we saw that on Tuesday against the Capitals. But honestly, what I'm most impressed with is how willing Tavares is to take on this challenge. I shouldn't be surprised.
Tavares has shown time and time again that he will do whatever it takes for this club to win. Still, superstar players usually just aren't all that into killing penalties, and I give JT a ton of credit for just jumping into the fray while Casey Cizikas is on the shelf.
I'm not sure it's something that I want to see on a consistent basis. Tavares' offense is too important to this team, so to risk grinding him down over a full season by having him on the PK probably doesn't make a lot of sense. But it does add a huge element of versatility to his game and this team overall. Moving forward, it's certainly a benefit to know Tavares can pinch hit on the kill when need be.