The New York Islanders assigned goaltender Rick DiPietro to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on February 23rd, 2013. At that time, the Isles were 7-9-1 and appearing as a team that could miss the playoffs once again in another frustrating season (Photo credit: xjowell/Flickr).
Since DP's demotion, the Islanders have gone 17-7-5 due largely in part to a near flawless month of April (8-0-3). Leading the charge between the pipes has been Evgeni Nabokov, who boasts a 23-11-6 record that holds three shutouts - one coming in a 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres the night DiPietro was sent to Bridgeport.
As the season winds down, a playoff berth for the Islanders becomes more realistic with each passing day. For a team that has played so poorly during stretches this year, they still find themselves in the mix for a playoff spot.
The Islanders are playing meaningful games in April and shortened season or not, that is a big deal.
They took the ice on Tuesday night to face a Jets team that was handled by the Rangers the night before. The Islanders took a bus ride over from New Jersey and looked to remain hot. The excited Isles took the ice at home after beating the Devils just 24 hours prior.
The New York Islanders continue their fight for a playoff spot as they play host to the visiting Southeast Division leading Winnipeg Jets.
The Islanders, having went 3-1 on their recent road trip, look to keep the fire going at home Tuesday night. While impressive on the road, boasting an 11-5-1 record, they have struggled mightily at home posting a 6-11-2 mark. Even mediocre home ice play and the Isles are comfortably in the Stanley Cup chase.
As of now, the Isles are still deadlocked with the New York Rangers, who have a game in hand over the Isles, at 37 points. Both teams find themselves two points behind the 7th place New Jersey Devils.
As reported previously this week, the New York Islanders locked up defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky with a two-year contract extension worth $9.5 million.
GM Garth Snow has once again managed to acquire a valuable veteran through the trade market and convince him to stay longer than planned after he previously tried to avoid joining the team (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr).
The first player that went through a similar scenario was goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who is also playing in the final year of his contract. However, it has already been reported by Arthur Staple of Newsday that he appears to have an interest with staying with the team.
Kevin Maher of News12 sent out a few tweets today that quoted recently demoted Islanders goaltender, Rick DiPietro. The tweets immediately spread like wildfire over the Twitter-verse and have prompted a response from Isles GM Garth Snow (Photo Credit: xjowell/Flickr).
Maher's tweets read as follows:
@KMaherNews12 DiPietro told me Isles waiving him felt like, "they ripped my heart out, stabbed it, set it on fire and flushed it down the toilet."
DiPietro also apparently made another comment that without his wife's support over the years, that he would have "driven into a tree." Reports from Arthur Staple, Katie Strang, and TSN have added that DP elaborated on the subject and said that he has never actually contemplated suicide and does not look at the topic as a laughing matter.
For the New York Islanders, home hasn't been very sweet. One of the National Hockey League's "road warriors" with a record of six wins three losses and one overtime loss, the Isles are conversely one of the league's worst home teams. How bad? 2-8-0 bad. The worst home start in franchise history kind of bad.
Last years Sound Tigers came into March like lambs, losing 9 of their first 11 games, and went out like lions with a 4 game win streak that stretched to 7 in early April. If this years’ team doesn’t reverse fortunes and enter March like lions their season could end before April begins.
The team will begin their third consecutive three-games-in-three-nights series this Friday. Needing to capture every point available, let’s hope they can avoid the weird series played two weeks ago and the one that began last Friday night with a slug-fest in Springfield.