Sep 26, 2011

Season Preview: Rick DiPietro

NY Post
Rick DiPietro

Position: Goaltender
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 209 lbs
Birthdate: September 19th, 1981 (30 years old)
Birthplace: Winthrop, Massachusetts, United States
Acquired: Draft - 1st Round, 1st Overall, 2000 NHL Entry Draft

2010-2011 Team: New York Islanders
2010-2011 Stats (STP): 26 GP - 8-14-4 - 3.44 GAA - .886 SV PCT
2011-2012 Team: New York Islanders
Team Role: Unknown as of this point, rotating with 3 goalies

Last year: After two frustrating seasons, in which DiPietro played only 13 games, the goaltender returned healthy enough to play 26 games during the 2010-11 season. DiPietro was extremely inconsistent, notching only 8 wins (including one shutout against New Jersey) in those games. His goals against and save percentage were close to the bottom of the league, which supported the notion that he was not the same goaltender he was between 2006-2008. However, some of this was due to the fact that DiPietro was not completely healthy. DiPietro landed on IR twice last season, including once after being knocked out by Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson in February. Overall, DiPietro split time over the course of the season with guys like Dwayne Roloson and Al Montoya, and did not re-establish himself as the Isles starting goaltender.

Expectations: With ten years left on his contract, DiPietro will surely need to be better this upcoming season. The Islanders have a lot invested in him, and considering their financial constraints, he will need to at least perform up to the value for which they are paying him. There are a ton of questions surrounding the goaltending situation, but with three goaltenders with a lot to offer, there will be hefty competition to earn the maximum amount of playing time. Islanders coach Jack Capuano seems sincere when he says that whoever is playing the best will play. For now, there is no reason to doubt him, which means that DiPietro will need to step his game up to play this season. Frankly, that's how it should be. He started off great with a solid pre-season debut in Boston. It's imperative that he maintain, or even exceed that level of play. If he does that, the Isles will be in a much better place.

Projections: 24 GP - 7-12-5 - 3.22 GAA - .888 SV %


CH: Despite the prediction above, the truth is that DiPietro's season could go in one hundred different directions. After seeing him in Boston, he looks better. He was positionally as good as he has been in his career, he was moving laterally at an adequate speed, and he did not fumble the puck too often. But it's only two periods of the first pre-season game. How will his body hold up? Can he stay at that level of play? For now, it's just too difficult to predict. The good thing is that the Islanders once again have prepared for the worst by having Al Montoya and Evgeni Nabokov under contract. But they cannot continually go with three goalie rotations for the next ten years. Not with top prospects like Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson in the minors. So it will be very interesting to see how DiPietro responds this year. Because any record under .500 will certainly hurt the Isles playoff chances. The bottom line is simple: he needs to perform better than last year. Time will tell if he does.

AT: After his first offseason completely healthy (so far) and a promising start in Boston the other night, DiPietro finally appears to be ready to go for at least 40 games this season, if not more. His lateral movement seemed to return and his quickness in general was much more efficient than anything we'd seen last season. This was also playing with a limited defense against a nearly fully manned Boston squad, so that provides even more hope. At this point, it's just a wait and see game, but Jack Capuano NEEDS to make it clear that if Al Montoya and Evgeni Nabokov outperform DiPietro for the rest of the preseason, they should be on top of the totem pole. Management and the coaching staff need to send a message to the fans that they will not retain a player who is under-performing, and if need be will take the necessary steps to ensure the team is the best it can be. This is going to be a major season for DiPietro in his return to regular playing time, if the aforementioned even occurs.

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