Isles Fighting for Playoff Lives
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Wednesday, April 18, 2007

After falling to the Sabres in game three of the first round of playoffs, the Islanders find themselves fighting for their playoff lives.

Failing to get players in front of the net and committing costly penalties, while failing to score on the power play, the Isles understand that they have to play their best hockey now or else their season will be over.

Managing to defy the critics and make the playoffs on the last day of the season, this yearís New York Islanders are a spirited bunch of misfits that have refused to say die when the opportunity presented itself many times this season and instead have flourished in the face of oblivion. Nevertheless, the team knows that road ahead of them wonít be a pretty one if they donít start picking up the pace.

"We have to get back to basics and get the puck to the net," Smyth told the Associated Press. "It comes down to execution. It's a long series. They're a good hockey team."

Despite having Rick DiPietro back in net for the last two games, which has given the team a huge boost, the Islanders havenít been able to put together any significant offense against the extremely mobile Buffalo defense.

Scoring just seven goals on only 75 shots on goal in the first three games of the series, as well as only two in the third period in game three, the Islanders need to give DiPietro the offensive support he and the team desperately need right now to win hockey games. Knowing full well that they need to score goals in order to win, the Islanders know they need to come together now, or face the consequences of watching the rest of the playoffs at home with their families.

After working extremely hard to just get into the playoffs this year, the Islanders donít seem ready to give up.

"Two shots in the third period when you're down by a goal is unacceptable," Islanders Randy Robitaille told Newsday after the team lost 3-2 in game three. ďAnytime you score a goal late in the period, it's a different thing. We were pretty excited. We felt we were right there. We should have come out a little more desperate."

Regardless of their mediocre offensive presence during this series, the Islanders are more than happy to have DiPietro back and still think they have a shot at defeating Buffalo in the best of seven series despite their inadequate offensive output.

"When Ricky's back there making key saves at the right times ... that gives us a boost of confidence and extra life," forward Ryan Smyth told the Associated Press after DiPietro made 32 saves in game 2. "Your No. 1 player has to be your goaltender and he was that tonight."

With DiPietro leading the way, the Islanders will have a chance to take down the Sabres. However, if the offense canít find a way to beat Ryan Miller and the uber-talented Buffalo defense, their season is over.