Tavares may stay home from Soo

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

John Tavares will get a chance to add to his OHL-record 215 goals this week.

He also needs two more goals to hit 60 in his final season of major junior hockey.

But will he get one more game or two to do it before the playoffs start?

"I know I'm playing (tomorrow at home) against Saginaw," the London Knights sniper said.

But will he make the eight-hour bus ride to Sault Ste. Marie on Saturday and face the Western Conference basement-dwelling Greyhounds? It's the Knights' final regular season game before the playoffs start -- likely the following Friday.

"I haven't been able to play in the Sault yet this year," said the former Oshawa Generals captain, who has 32 goals and 50 points in 23 games since becoming a Knight. "The bus ride doesn't bother me. I'll have to wait and see what the coaches decide. It's important to be ready for playoffs. I missed a few games because of (shoulder) injury this year so maybe they'll want me to get in one more game."

Tavares is one of a handful of players the Knights are considering leaving home Saturday.

"It would be disappointing for the fans in the Sault if he doesn't play there this season," London assistant coach Pat Curcio said, "but we have to make sure our team is ready for playoffs. We're going to use whoever we have healthy at home here and then decide who we're going to take to the Sault."

London has clinched second place in the Western Conference behind Windsor. The Knight don't know their first-round opponent yet, but if it's the Erie Otters, they will likely propose playing the first two games of the best-of-seven series at the John Labatt Centre under the league's long-distance travel policy.

"We have to wait and see who it's going to be," said Knights GM Mark Hunter.

They have won seven straight games and are coming off their biggest victory of the season in Windsor, but hat-trick hero Tavares feels there's still more at stake.

"Everyone was pretty happy on the bus ride home and we hung out together Monday," he said. "But now we have two big games coming up before playoffs. We're trying to get to 100 points for the season (they have 97) and we're trying to clinch second overall in the league (they need two more points)."

Matt Clarke also has the chance to become the only Knight to play in all 68 games. The four-year veteran was recently moved back to his natural position at forward.

"I love to play so I don't mind if I have to go to the Sault," he said. "It could be my last (regular-season) game. Knock on wood, I've been lucky so far, but I'm not wearing it as some badge of honour to play in all 68.

"If it happens, it happens."

The Knights won't have spirited forward Dominic DeSando this week. He and Spitfire Ben Dubois were suspended two games for the second fight in the same stoppage.

The play that started the scrum -- crafty Windsor defenceman Ryan Ellis going low to take out the legs of six-foot-seven London tough guy Mike Yovanic -- was not reviewed by the OHL.

Yovanic, who needed stitches after being punched by the Spits' Adam Wallace, is out indefinitely with a "lower body injury".

"It was a delayed penalty call and the officials were waiting for the puck to be touched by someone before it was whistled down," OHL vice-president Ted Baker said.

KNIGHWATCH

Tomorrow: vs. Saginaw, 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre

Saturday: at Sault Ste. Marie, 7:30 p.m.


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