JAFFE'S MORNING SKATE
By Billy Jaffe
The Islanders will try to finish their road trip with a win when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in a hostile environment at the Air Canada Centre. Here's my look at the keys to Tuesday's game, which can be seen on FSN NY at 7:30. Pre-game show starts at 7:00 pm.
1. Fight size with grit
The Maple Leafs have a big team up front. Six of their top nine forwards are at least 6-2. The Leafs forwards are a strong group that likes to work in the corners. Guys like Mats Sundin and Nik Antropov like to go hard to the net. The Islanders will have to be ready to engage these tough forwards and get ready to battle from the drop of the puck.
2. Turn the crowd
The Toronto crowd is quick to praise, but can also easily turn on their beloved Leafs. Perhaps it's the pressure of the crowd, but the Leafs have struggled at home, where they are 11-12-4. It's important for the Islanders to take the lead and get the crowd against their home team. Because of Andrew Raycroft's inconsistent goaltending, the crowd will be quick to get on him if he lets in one early.
3. Be aware of the Leafs' defense
The Toronto defensemen are very active, especially Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe. While they like to jump into the play, they also get caught and take a lot of penalties. The Islanders have been on the short end of the penalty calls for much of the season, but it might be the other case on Tuesday night. If the Islanders do go down a man, however, watch for Kaberle and McCabe at the point. McCabe has a huge shot, while Kaberle likes to sneak down low. The Islanders penalty killers will have to keep their heads on a swivel.
Catch Jaffe, Howie Rose and Deb Kaufman at 7 pm Tuesday 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.