When I golf, I find I play much better against good players, like my man Frank Pasquale, and when I'm paired up with other duffers, we slog around the course like a bunch of Al Czerviks. The level of play is raised by better competition.
I guess that's the deal with the Islanders, because just a couple of days after improving to 6-1 against the Devils, the Islanders blasted the division-leading Penguins, 4-1, at home and in front of a national television audience. Sure, there was a 3-1 loss to Philly in between, but the Isles were done in by the power play that night, and hey, you can't win 'em all.
With so many young players fighting for 2008-09 roster spots, it was nice to see the veterans step up, with goals by Guerin, Park and Hunter, the last one created by Satan's superior effort. Bergenheim also scored and he's fast becoming a favorite. Dubie also played strong after getting the Flyers game off.
A couple of side notes for you: With so many eyes looking ahead to the draft, here's an interesting story by ESPN.com's Scott Burnside on the sorry state of the Atlanta Thrashers. The best part is that Ilya Kovalchuk's contract runs out in two years. Now, everyone will be after him and why wouldn't a superstar like him want to play for the Rangers? But Charles Wang threw a ton of cash at Yashin and isn't afraid of the big contract (D.P.). Hey, we can dream, right?
Also, you may have seen the video but what Jonathan Roy -- son of Patrick -- did in a QMJHL game the other day was disgusting. Thankfully, his cheap shot has been punished by the league, and so was Papa Roy, who denied that his gesture from the bench was meant to encourage his son to charge the opposing goalie at the other end of the ice. Roy senior was one of the all-time greats, but he and his son apparently have a lot to learn about sportsmanship and class.