By Billy Jaffe
The key to tonight is all about sound positioning and playing smart against the East-leading Buffalo Sabres. Here's my look at the keys to tonight's game, which can be seen on FSN NY 2 at 8:00. Pre-game show starts at 7:30 pm.
1. Playing conservatively
Against a fast Sabres team, the key is sound positioning and playing conservatively. The Islanders will pull back a bit and can"t afford to be as aggressive on the forecheck or pinch as much as usual. They allowed a few too many odd-man rushes against New Jersey, but Dunham made the saves to keep the Islanders in the game.
2. A down-low game
The Islanders could have easily won that game against the Devils. Besides the first period, they really took it to New Jersey, hemming them in their zone, especially in the third period. The Islanders are a down-low team and can"t get into a run-and-gun game with the speedy Sabres. If the Islanders play as well tonight as they did against New Jersey, a win should be in the cards.
3. Keep shooting
The Islanders made a good attempt at shooting the puck as much as possible against Brodeur. Despite only getting 23 shots off, another 23 were blocked and ten went wide. There isn"t a team much better than the Devils at preventing shots from getting through to their netminder. If the Islanders keep shooting like they did against New Jersey, the Islanders should get more of their shot attempts through on Miller than they did on Brodeur. Even if it"s a clear shot, shoot. Alexei Yashin scored on Brodeur off a slapshot with no one screening. Guys like Bergeron (no shot against NJ) and Kozlov (one) need to get more pucks to the net.
Catch Jaffe, Howie Rose and Deb Kaufman at 7:30 pm tonight on FSN NY 2 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.