By EVAN GROSSMAN
March 2, 2006 --
DEVILS at ISLES
FSN2, FSN, WBBR, WFAN
Rick DiPietro says he's ready to start tonight against the visiting
Devils, the mental and physical fatigue gone from competing at the
DiPietro did not start Tuesday night against Montreal, though he
played the third period in a relief appearance as the Islanders
started the post-break sprint with a 5-3 loss.
Margin for error is quickly thinning as the Isles play four games
against the Devils (twice), Capitals and Flyers before the March 9
trading deadline, with only 25 remaining on the regular-season
"These next four games will make or break us," DiPietro said.
They are eight points and four teams out of the playoffs, with the
day of reckoning fast approaching.
"I think these next four will pretty much decide the fate of the
team," DiPietro continued. "We have to make a charge and we have to
make it quick. We get a chance to play against a lot of the teams
we're behind, and I think guys are confident that with our schedule
we can make up ground in a hurry.
"These games are critical. The trade deadline is right around the
corner and we want to prove to Mike [Milbury] and Charles [Wang] and
the coaching staff we can still compete and make a playoff run."
They blew a chance to get within four points of No. 8 Montreal
Tuesday, just the latest chapter of frustration for an Islander team
that's been nothing but disappointing this year. If they fall any
further out of the race in the next week, there is a distinct
possibility that the group could be broken up so as to allow the
incoming general manager to operate with the freshest canvas