JAFFE'S MORNING SKATE
By Billy Jaffe
It's a potential four-point swing when the Islanders take on their Atlantic Division rivals, the New Jersey Devils. Here's my look at the keys to Thursday's game at the Continental Airlines Arena, which can be seen on MSG Network at 7:30. Pre-game show starts at 7:00 pm.
1. Take the early lead
When you get the lead on the Devils you take them out of their style of play. Once the Devils get the lead, their tendency is to settle down not shut down and play tighter than most teams. If you force them to open up, you can get them out of their preferred style.
2. Keep it away from Marty
Get the puck away from Martin Brodeur. He handles the puck well, so be aware of your dump-ins. When you get chances, shoot the puck. When you shoot, get people in front of the net. It's too easy for Brodeur when no one is in front.
3. Play with an edge
They're not a big team, but they're feisty, so you have to be ready to battle. Gionta, Gomez, Langenbrunner and the rest of the forwards will go to the front of the net. If you're not ready to compete, it will be difficult to play against them.
4. Don't get frustrated
Don't start thinking, "We're never going to get through." Even if you don't get through to them on one shift, keep challenging. Challenge the defense to handle the puck and be physical.
Catch Jaffe, Howie Rose and Deb Kaufman at 7 pm Thursday on MSG Network for the Islanders pre-game show. You can watch the Islanders games on FSN NY and MSG Network all season long. Islanders telecasts are produced by Kevin Meininger and directed by Larry Roth.