JAFFE'S MORNING SKATE
Catch the Islanders on MSG tonight, Islanders at Buffalo in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: pre-game starts @ 6:30 pm
By Billy Jaffe
The Islanders are in a familiar, must-win situation heading back to Buffalo. Here's my look at the keys to Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal game versus Buffalo, which can be seen on MSG at 7:00 pm. Pre-game show starts at 6:30 pm.
1. Be proactive
In Game 2 the Islanders needed to be more aggressive, and they were. Now they need to take it to a new level in Game 5. The Islanders have to take the lead and continue to fight for more goals. We saw in Game 4 that grabbing a one-goal lead wasn't enough. The Islanders need to score early and go for more like they did in Game 2, when they went up 2-0. The Sabres might be one of the best offensive teams in the league, but they've showed in the last couple of games they're also effective at holding leads late in the game.
2. More from the Yashin line
The Miroslav Satan-Alexei Yashin-Viktor Kozlov line almost produced the game-tying goal in the third period of Game 4, but apart from that they haven't done much. Kozlov has two assists, Satan has one and Yashin is scoreless. While the line did play better in Game 4, they need to get the pucks to the net. Too much of their play is kept to the outside, and when they have moved to the middle they're still having trouble getting pucks on goal. The line did take seven shots, but another seven were either blocked or missed the net. This line needs to step it up and generate something in order to keep the Islanders' playoff hopes alive.
3. Use the glass
In order to counter the Sabres' dangerous transition game, which was evident on the fourth goal in Game 4, it would be safe for the Islanders to use the glass to get the puck out of the defensive zone, and then the boards to dump it into the offensive zone. The last thing the Islanders need is giveaways in the defensive and neutral zones. As long as the puck gets in the offensive zone, whether it be through skating it in or dumping it in, the forwards can go to work down low, where they're most effective.
Catch Jaffe, Howie Rose and Deb Kaufman at 6:30 pm tonight on MSG for the Islanders pre-game show. Islanders telecasts are produced by Kevin Meininger and directed by Larry Roth. You can catch the entire series against Buffalo on FSN NY and MSG.