JAFFE'S MORNING SKATE
By Billy Jaffe
The Islanders got back on track with their win over Washington on Saturday, but the real test continues as they start an important road trip tonight in Montreal. Here's my look at the keys to tonight's game, which can be seen on FSN NY at 7:30. Pre-game show starts at 7:00 pm.
1. Keep it a 5-on-5 game
The Canadiens are a power play team. Just looking at their numbers, you see that they're first in the league with the man-advantage. The Islanders were getting into penalty trouble for a few games recently, but rectified that against Washington, limiting them to four power plays. It's apparent that Montreal has trouble 5-on-5 just by the fact that their top three scorers are at -20 or worse. It's imperative that the Islanders limit Montreal's power play opportunities.
2. Fragile in net
David Aebischer and Jaroslav Halak are beatable. The Islanders have to challenge them. After Cristobal Huet went down with a season-ending injury, the team hasn't been the same. Halak gave them a boost when he first started, but he's come back down to earth. And Aebischer hasn't been as consistent as they were hoping when they acquired him for Jose Theodore.
3. Neutralize their speed
Montreal is a fast team with the likes of Saku Koivu and Michael Ryder up front. You slow them down by playing man-on-man and closing the gap. Don't allow them to get going. They also like long passes, so the high forward has to recognize the situation and get back in time.
Catch Jaffe, Howie Rose and Deb Kaufman at 7:00 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.