JAFFE'S MORNING SKATE
By Billy Jaffe
After coming off Thursday's night's disheartening shutout loss to a defensive oriented New Jersey team, the Islanders get right back at it against a Boston Bruins team not nearly as defensive-minded. Here's my look at the keys to tonight's game at the TD Banknorth Garden, which can be seen on FSN NY at 7:00. Pre-game show starts at 6:30 pm.
1. Attack the defense
In order for the Islanders to repeat their last performance in Boston when they came back three times before winning in a shootout, they'll want to attack the Bruins' defense, which has been struggling recently. Boston has allowed at least three goals in nine of their previous ten games, and is 3-7-0 in that stretch.
2. Get Blake Going
The Islanders need to find a way to get Jason Blake going again. He has only four goals in his last 16 games. His linemates need to retrieve the puck better and get it to him in more ideal scoring positions. This could be the night to get him back on track considering Boston was where Blake scored the clinching shootout goal back in January.
3. Take the body
The Bruins have a number of dangerous forwards in Patrice Bergeron, Marco Sturm, Brad Boyes and Marc Savard, who is especially slippery. He likes to come down the right wing and draw guys to him. He's very good at finding the open man, similar to Sidney Crosby. The Islanders can't get mesmerized by him. They'll need to use the body on these guys and play physical. The Bruin forwards, for the most part, are not big, and don't like getting hit.
4. Look for shorthanded opportunities
Of course killing off the penalty is the first priority, but considering the Islanders' recent success while shorthanded and the Bruins' league leading 13 shorthanded goals against, it might not hurt to go for it while down a man.
Catch Jaffe, Howie Rose and Deb Kaufman at 6:30 pm tonight on FSN NY 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.