After First Game, Still Much to Learn for Vanek, Linemates

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Thomas Vanek was on Long Island for less then two days before he was thrust into his first game as a member of the New York Islanders, a game against the rival New York Rangers, no less. The new Islander saw 19:49 of ice time Tuesday night and had one shot on net in his debut.

“First of all, I thought the atmosphere was great,” Vanek said after the loss. “I haven’t been in a game like that in a long time.”

The former member of the Buffalo Sabres played on a line with Kyle Okposo and star John Tavares. It was the same line that he had practiced with the day prior during a skate at Nassau Coliseum.

Vanek thought his new line played decent, but he knew there was still room to improve.

“Our line was OK, but we had some good moments and still trying to feel each other out,” he said. “Johnny is so creative with the puck, so I need to watch some video and see his tendencies. Same with Kyle here and get better.”

Tavares, who’s best friend Matt Moulson was included in the the deal that brought Vanek to Long Island, also said that the line played “OK,” though he knows with time things are going to click faster.

“I think we did some good things, obviously at times it was back and forth,” Tavares said. “I think it was just the way the game was kind of going. You can tell he’s great around the net and strong on the puck. I don’t think it’s going to take too much time getting used to playing with a guy like him, who can make plays.

“I’ll just try and work on some different things the next couple days to be better on the weekend.”

There were certain points in Tuesday’s that you could see a bit of chemistry being formed by Okposo, Tavares and Vanek, but at others points they still did not look completely comfortable with one another.

“I told them, Kyle and Johnny, talk to me a lot and those guys are great players,” Vanek Said. “They’re letting me know where they’re at and what they see. Chemistry just doesn’t happen, you have to practice at it. A few plays we lost the puck. We thought we could have had a quick chance, but we’ll do better.”