What a Difference a Week Makes for the Isles|
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Last week at this time, most Islander fans were in a pretty bad predicament. Four points out of a playoff spot with less than four games to go and coming off demoralizing losses to both Buffalo and Ottawa, not many people pegged the Isles as a playoff team.
Things were so bad a week ago that even Islanders great and current Executive Director of Corporate Relations, Mike Bossy thought the team was finished at one point.
“Honestly, after we lost in Buffalo [on March 30] I didn't know if the guys had enough left in the tank to get in the playoffs,” said Bossy on his Blog on the team’s official website.
However, after the team managed to put the pieces back together and win all four of their remaining games and make the playoffs, Bossy gleamed on the team’s official website, telling the fans just how proud he was of the team and how unbelievable their play has been as of late.
“Shame on me. It will be the last time I don't believe COMPLETELY in Ted [Nolan] and all the players on that team, Bossy added. “It takes a special bunch of guys to play the way they did in the last week. Leadership, hard work and the unbelievable play of Dubie kept me on the edge of my toes at the Coliseum and my sofa at home. I am so proud of this team.”
However, Bossy isn’t the only person that has voiced their joy regarding the team’s play as of late.
"We didn't lose any hope, we could've easily said, 'Oh, it's not meant to be.’"
“I think a lot of people counted us out, but the big thing is this team didn't quit," said defenseman Brendan Witt. "It's sweet to get in and now we have to focus on how to beat Buffalo.
One way the Islanders can make things easier for themselves against Buffalo is to continue to get the kind of goaltending from Wade Dubielewicz that got the team a playoff spot, despite the absence of their emotional leader and starting goaltender Rick DiPietro. Going 4-1 with a miniscule 2.06 GAA in eight games this season, “Dubie,” as his coaches and teammates call him, has earned his stripes on a veteran Islanders team extremely quickly and seems ready for whatever challenges that come his way, despite having only 17 games of NHL experience under his belt..
Stopping Michael Nylander, Jaromir Jagr and Brian Gionta on shootout attempts with the team’s playoff lives hanging in the balance over the course of a week will do that.
"Ricky [DiPietro] is a huge part of this team but (Dubielewicz) just didn't feel like there is any pressure," forward Ryan Smyth said. "He just came to play and showed that. He played with conviction and confidence and gave us a chance to win. I have great respect for a lot of players in this locker room and he's one of them."
While Dubielewicz has to love having gained the respect and confidence of his teammates in such a quick span, it’s obvious that the former AHL All-Star is just happy to be in the NHL and showing everyone what he’s made of.
"I'm a pretty confident guy," Dubielewicz said. "You always doubt whether you can play at this level. This is the best league in the world, so if you can compare yourself once in a while it's a good feeling. This just proves to me that I can play here and that's important."
With the confident and passionate Dubielewicz in net and the emotional resurgence of the team apparent, the Buffalo Sabres may have their hands full when the team’s face off in the first round of the playoff’s this Thursday.