Rick DiPietro's shutout of the Devils Friday night was just what the doctor ordered for a team that had lost two straight. Sure, the losses were close, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, as Col. Sherman T. Potter once said, and the Islanders were looking at a three-game skid if Martin Brodeur was able to win his 500th career game playing at home.
But DiPietro was stellar, stopping 26 shots but also playing smart and displaying a growing maturity that Ted Nolan didn't hesitate to mention in his postgame comments. This team is built around DiPietro and needs him to be the kind of netminder that teams hate to face and he is playing that way so far this season. His biggest save may have been when he stoned Patrik Elias in the final minutes.
And how 'bout that Josef Vasicek? The shorthanded goal against the Devils was a thing of beauty. You only get a chance to deke the goalie that many times when you're practicing one-on-nones in the driveway, but Vasicek came through, thanks to a godawful turnover. Hard to believe, with his size and skills, that Vasicek has been a career third- or fourth-line player. If he's blooming late, we're glad he's blooming here.
Another solid game from Chris Campoli, and Trent Hunter also played big, drawing comparison's to John Tonelli from Jiggs McDonald on the play-by-play. When Jiggs compares you to J.T., you know you're doing something right.
You kind of feel sorry for Brent Sutter. He looks like his head is going to explode one of these games.
Up next, the Rangers at MSG Monday night. Think Sean Avery will get into a pre-game scrap with Brendan Witt? We can only hope.