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by Jason Lockhart / New York Islanders

The Islanders have significantly reduced the number of shots against this season – Islanders vs. Dallas, TV: FSN NY, Radio: Bloomberg 1130

Rick DiPietro and Bruno Gervais
While out-shooting one's opponent doesn't necessarily ensure victory, it should pay off over a grueling 82-game schedule.

Last season, the Islanders gave up, on average, 32.6 shots per game, which was the fifth most in the NHL. Having to face that many shots puts much strain on Rick DiPietro and the defense.

This season has been a completely different story. Through 20 games, the Islanders have cut down their shots against to 26.4 per game, which is the fourth fewest in the league. In the first 20 games, the Islanders have out-shot their opponent 14 times and tied them in shots once. In 2006-07 through the first 20 games, the Islanders out-shot their opponents only seven times.

"We've put a lot of emphasis on reducing the shots against since the start of Training Camp," said Ted Nolan, whose Islanders face-off against the Dallas Stars tonight at the Nassau Coliseum. "We know the type of goaltender we have, and if we eliminate the teams from taking 40 to 45 shots to only 30, Ricky can keep us in a lot of games and win us a lot of games."

Defenseman Bruno Gervais put his two cents into the reasoning by the reduced pressure on DiPietro.

"We've played under Teddy for a year now, so we know the system better," said Gervais. "All of the guys are involved in the defensive zone, blocking shots and creating less turnovers."

Added Nolan: "We feel we have a good number of defensive type defensemen like Sutton and Witt, who are helping reduce that number. But the forwards are also doing their part, so everyone is playing a role."

While the defense and forwards can help stop the initial shots, DiPietro can play a role in reducing the number of second and third opportunities, which Nolan and the players agree he has.

"Last year Rick might have played the puck a little bit extra and shot it up the boards to their defense," said Nolan. "They would then get some more shots on goal. He's much better with his decision making and his thought process. His whole demeanor is a lot different from last year."

Gervais can attest to Nolan's comments, having played in front of Ricky for almost his entire NHL career.

"Ricky has been working hard on controlling his rebounds and making the right plays," said Gervais. "The defensemen are communicating better with Ricky, so we're not trapped in the zone as much as we were last year. We get the puck out quickly. One thing I haven't noticed much this year is the team getting pinned in our own end for a long time. I can't remember any times running around in our zone for a long time and getting off the ice tired."

Fewer shots on goal mean a more rested goaltender and defense. After 82 games, extra rest could be all the difference a team needs come playoff time.

Click here for the Game Preview of tonight's matchup between the Islanders and Dallas Stars at the Nassau Coliseum.

Watch Rick DiPietro and Bruno Gervais all season long on Islanders TV.

There are still tickets available to watch the Islanders and Ottawa Senators meet Wednesday at the Nassau Coliseum.

The contest features the high-flying Senators offense.

To purchase individual game tickets, click here or visit the Coliseum box office, the Islanders Team Store at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville or call Ticketmaster at 631.888.9000.

We'll see you tonight at the Coliseum.

Click here to purchase tickets today!


A reminder to area students hoping to watch their 12-8-0 Islanders take on the Dallas Stars

Four easy steps gets students into the game for just $10.

1. Show up at the Coliseum loud and proud to be an Islanders fan.

2. LOUDVILLE tickets go on sale 60 minutes before game time, so line up at the Coliseum box office with your friends and/or make some new ones among the community of young Islanders fans on line. There are a limited number of seats available per game, so arrive early to secure a seat.

3. Bring your Student ID! There is a limit of one $10 LOUDVILLE ticket per ID. Sorry folks, but there will be no exceptions.

4. Once you get to the LOUDVILLE section, do your part to help lead the crowd in giving the Islanders the best home-ice advantage in the NHL!

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