I spoke earlier of the kind of statement the Islanders could have made tonight by beating the Ottawa Senators. Well, they got the 'W' alright, mustering one hell of a collective effort all night long and pulling out a 3-2 shootout victory. But, in the end, the strongest statement of the evening was made by Mr. Rick DiPietro.
Notice to Internet Explorer Users
So what if Andrej Meszaros scored a couple of fluky goals and Daniel Alfredsson notched one in the opening round of the shootout? Shutouts, people, are not always indicative of a dominating performance by a goaltender ... just as nights where said goaltender allows a couple are not always indicative of a subpar performance. Rick DiPietro was all over the place tonight. (And I'm not just referring to his slightly out-of-position, just-barely-snatched-the-puck-before-it-crossed-the-line play early in overtime.) The kid came up big again and again and again all throughout the game tonight! This is his team, folks. And it ain't just because of some contract ...
Alfredsson opened the shootout with a goal for the Sens, yes, but shutting down the likes of Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley on consecutive shootout attempts thereafter - the save on the latter being absolutely phenomenal, mind you - is a feat and a half in and of itself. Go ahead and double the merits of that accomplishment when you consider that the Isles were denied by Ray Emery on their first two shootout attempts, putting the pressure all on DiPietro. (By the way ... deke, boys, deke!)
Yes, this was a total team effort to contain the powerful Ottawa offense, but the Islander netminder clearly stole the show tonight.
Former teammate Jason Blake said it earlier this season and I must admit I've been hesitant to totally agree until just now.
"(Rick) DiPietro will win the Vezina in the next three years."
If he continues to play anywhere near the level at which he played this evening, and at which he's played for much of this young 2007-08 campaign, truer words may never have been spoken.
Of course, that three year estimate may be selling DP a little bit short when all is said and done ...
Rick DiPietro has officially arrived, everyone. He's become a dominant force in the Islander net, he's leading this team to becoming a bona fide force in the East and ...
... he made one hell of a statement tonight!
In other news, I cannot begin to say enough about Richard Park! Is there a player in the league who works his tail off harder than this guy? When we signed him after his tryout at last year's training camp, I was very skeptical. But Ted Nolan and Garth Snow found a real gem - a heart and soul guy by the very definition of the term. I, for one, hope Richard Park is an Islander for life.
The Richard Park Fan Club ... coming soon!
There is an issue with the form blow that will make it appear that nothing happens when you click the post message button below. To see your message, after you click the post message button, refresh this page. Sorry for the troubles, we hope to have it fixed soon.