The Islanders are winning the public relations game, judging by the overjoyed fan reaction to their selection of goal-scoring machine John Tavares as the No. 1 draft pick and how he said all the right things during his introductory public news conference yesterday at Nassau Coliseum.

As a marketing tool, no one is better prepared than Tavares, who has faced the tough questions since being admitted to the Ontario Hockey League at the age of 14.

His real first step in the NHL game takes place tomorrow morning at Iceworks when he takes the ice with all the rookies and prospects at the Islanders' minicamp. That's when expectations begin to take off.,7674665.story