On Tuesday night, the New York Islanders will go on the road to face their division rival Pittsburgh Penguins. If recent history means anything, the Isles could be in deep trouble. The Penguins are looking for their 14th win in the last 15 visits from the Islanders.
So, how can the Islanders stop this unfortunate skid and knock off their rivals?
John Tavares needs to come through
It is certainly no secret that Tavares is a budding superstar in the NHL. However, during his last seven games against Pittsburgh, he hasn’t looked like it. Tavares has played seven straight games against the Pens without recording a single point. That simply cannot happen if the Isles have any chance of winning on Tuesday night. They need production from their best player, especially when you have to face the star power in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Execute late in the game
This really goes for any hockey club, but the Islanders must capitalize in the late stages of the game, especially against a team as good as the Penguins. New York is coming off a disappointing Sunday night contest against the Winnipeg Jets, in which they blew a 4-2 lead. To start the third period, the Isles scored three times in the first 10 minutes but allowed the Jets to climb back into it, eventually capping off the comeback in overtime. If the Islanders are still around in the final period (which I believe they will be) they must ignore the score and continue to play with intensity and fire.
Don’t try to contain Sidney Crosby, attack him
He’s the best player in the world, I get that. But if the Islanders want to win this contest, they can’t sit back and hold Crosby off. Instead, they need to attack him and throw him off of his game. Crosby is off to a good start to the 2013 campaign, posting three goals and two assists. Not just the Islanders enforcers, but everyone on the ice against Crosby needs to agitate him because if he gets hot, New York is in trouble.
The puck is set to drop at 7:30 p.m. at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.