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Isles cool off after their hot opening

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 13, 2002

Has any team fallen as fast as the Islanders? After an 11-1-1 start that was the talk of the league, New York is 10-14-4-1, including 3-6 in its past nine, entering Saturday's game against the Bruins.

The team is seventh in the East and trying desperately to hang on to a playoff spot.

"Nobody feels sorry for you when you lose," goaltender Chris Osgood said. "You've got to stand up, be a man and start playing good; play the way you're capable of playing or sit there in April and make excuses when you miss the playoffs.

"I, for one, am not going to do that. I don't want to be known as a loser who didn't make the playoffs. It's embarrassing."

To be fair, the Islanders are struggling without puck-moving defensemen Roman Hamrlik and Radek Martinek, out with knee injuries. They also have not gotten much from Alexei Yashin, who has two goals in his past 13 games.

On the other hand, Osgood and captain Mike Peca ripped teammates for being soft on each other and playing without passion.

"I think we've been a little easier on each other," Peca said. "Not that we want to point fingers. I think we have to support each other. But at the same time, we also have to get the best out of each other. If that means challenging someone a little bit, then we have to do that.

"Looking at the standings the way they are, you can find yourself out of the playoffs in a hurry."

NO TRADE FOR AMONTE: The Blackhawks' success has forced general manager Mike Smith to rethink his plan to trade Tony Amonte.

With Chicago winning nine of 11 entering Saturday's game with the Blue Jackets and Amonte playing well, Smith likely will keep the potential unrestricted free agent and be active at the trading deadline to make a playoff push.

"It's nice to know," Amonte said. "We're winning, and we've got a good formula on the club, good chemistry. So why change things? I want to play here, and we've taken four or five steps in the right direction. We're very close here."

FLEURY WATCH: The recent erratic behavior of Rangers wing Theo Fleury prompted officials of the Canadian Olympic team to wonder if he will crack under the pressure.

Leading up to selection day, officials weighed Fleury's positives (energy, versatility, emotion) against his negative of occasionally losing control on the ice.

"Are we worried? No. Are we concerned? Yeah, both for Theo and the team," said Wayne Gretzky, Team Canada's director of player personnel. "We really believe at the end of the day his positives outweigh the negatives."

FEW GAMES, MUCH MONEY: Red Wings defenseman Uwe Krupp had surgery Wednesday on his injured right shoulder. That should end his season and a four-year contract that could pay him $16.4-million for 24 games.

After signing the free-agent deal in July 1998, Krupp played 22 games before going out with a herniated disc. Krupp was suspended the past two seasons because the team contended the injury was aggravated by dogsledding, which Krupp denied.

The sides still are in arbitration over the $8.2-million in salary the Red Wings withheld.

Krupp injuried the shoulder in a Sept. 28 preseason game. He played two regular-season games before shutting it down.

ODDS AND ENDS: Canucks goaltender Dan Cloutier left the team before Tuesday's game in Buffalo to be with his mother, who is ill. He returned Friday. ... Buffalo's Miroslav Satan had not scored in 13 consecutive games entering Saturday's game with the Devils. ... Oilers great Glenn Anderson has not paid child support to his 11-year-old son in three years. The British Columbia courts ruled he owes about $100,000. Anderson says the monthly payments of $2,961 are excessive because he no longer plays. ... In the final minutes of San Jose's 6-0 victory over the Panthers on Jan. 5, with fights and scrums breaking out after nearly every whistle, Sharks coach Darryl Sutter and Florida coach Mike Keenan had a screaming match at the divider between the benches. ... When the Kings beat the Rangers 4-0 Wednesday, they became the first team to sweep the New York area teams -- Rangers, Islanders, Devils -- in consecutive games. The shutout was Los Angeles' first over the Rangers. ... It might surprise you to know the Wild has the league's No. 1 selling jersey. It is second to the Red Wings in overall product sales. ... Television spots are running in Toronto depicting Olympic teams from Russia and Sweden as afraid to face Team Canada. "Personally, I don't like them," said Maple Leafs and Canadian coach Pat Quinn, who is worried they might fire up the opposition.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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