By Billy Jaffe
The Islanders showed in Game One they could handle the speed of the Sabres, but were ineffective in the offensive zone. Here's my look at the keys to Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal game versus Buffalo, which can be seen MSG at 7:30 pm. Pre-game show starts at 7:00 pm, with the post-game show immediately following the game.
1. Be more aggressive
In Game One, it looked like the Islanders were waiting for and guarding against the Sabres' attack, especially during the first period when the shots were 11-1. The Islanders found their game in the second period, and at times controlled play. They'll need to attack the Sabres' defense with more conviction, and be more physical with them. The Sabres surprisingly out-hit the Islanders in Game One. The Islanders need to come out with more charisma in the first period, and hopefully get the first goal to put the Sabres back on their heels.
2. Back to the basics on the power play
The Sabres showed they could take advantage of their opportunities by putting up two scores on the power play in six chances. While the Islanders only received three power plays, that should still be enough to get at least one tally, which could have changed the whole complexion of the game. The Islanders need to get back to the basics on the power play and just get pucks on goal, crash the net and look for rebounds. It, of course, starts with better entries and puck retrievals on the dump-ins. The Islanders have to battle harder for the loose pucks in the corner. The Sabres might be a faster team, but the Islanders need to use their strength to out-muscle the smaller Sabres defensemen in the corners. Once they retrieve the puck, find a seam and get it on net.
3. Shoot, shoot, shoot
While it's easier said than done, the Islanders have to test Ryan Miller with more than 21 shots - the Islanders' total in Game One. The Islanders did start generating more chances in the second and third periods, but Miller was hardly tested all game. It's the playoffs and anything can happen when you get pucks to the goal with so much riding on every moment.
Catch Jaffe, Howie Rose and Deb Kaufman at 7:00 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.