BLAKE BUMPED UP TO TOP LINE
There was something different about the Islanders top line in Tuesday's preseason game in Philadelphia. For the first time, Jason Blake was inserted on the left side of Alexei Yashin and Miroslav Satan and the speedster once again turned heads with his speed and tenacity with the puck. Sixteen seconds into the game there was an instant click with the "JAM" line (Jason-Alexei-Miroslav) and Blake buried the first shot of the night into the net.
"Blake has the speed and tenacity and he's be a big plus on any line he's on," said Stirling. "He'll find ways to get open, guys will feed him the puck and he'll get his scoring chances by using his speed."
Blake later netted an assist on Yashin's second period goal as the "JAM" line kept churning up the ice throughout the contest. He finished with two points to go along with Yashin's two goals and Satan's five shots.
"If you keep skating hard then good things will happen out on the ice," said Blake. "With talented guys like Yash and Miro, it becomes easier to find more space to make something happen."
The line will once again be intact for Thursday night's preseason finale at Madison Square Garden versus the Rangers. Stirling stated after Wednesday's practice that he wants to see more of what the JAM combination has to offer.
"I'm still trying to figure out who the left winger will be on that line," added Stirling. "We want to find the right balance and Blake brings speed, emotion and responsibility. It's fun to watch him."