The locker room smells actively rank, the smell only freshly dampened hockey equipment can produce. There are about 40 people moving about frantically, some Islanders players undressing and heading to the showers, some young public relations men in suits trying to rein in the chaos, and a handful of media people, including one cameraman, moving from station to station conducting interviews as if on a conveyor belt.

The losing goalie, Rick DiPietro, steadies himself before the scrum and looks up as if he's in a hurry. He's already told the assembled ragtag group of media to come back once, and now they are reassembling in front of him as the rest of Nassau Coliseum empties out.

It's December 2006, and the 25-year-old was in nets for all of a 4-2 loss to the Canadiens, two of the goals coming on distinct deflections and one coming through a screen. He hardly moved his head as any of them went by.

It's about 10 months after DiPietro was named the best goalie in the United States, starting for his country in the Turin Olympics. The only reporter who covers the team on a daily basis asks him about the goals. "It didn't seem like you were seeing the puck all that well tonight," the reporter says.