September 7, 2010

DiPietro Healthy, Expects "Normal" Training Camp

For many players, training camp is the same song and dance. However, when the Islanders open up camp on September 17th, there will be something that they haven't been used to in quite some time - a healthy Rick DiPietro.

Newsday's Katie Strang caught up with DiPietro at Ice Works today as he skated with many other teammates, and he appears to be doing well and is poised to participate in a "normal" training camp. DiPietro has been dealing with a slew of injuries, and for the most part things remained fairly quiet on him until Chris Botta gave us this nugget on his blog back on August 10th:

For the last month, I’ve heard nothing but positivity about the health of Rick DiPietro. This is wonderful news for the Islanders, their fans and a 29-year-old man with several years potentially ahead of him to do what he loves best. This is also in stark contrast to what I was hearing at this time last year, when the Islanders jumped through hoops to deny my August, 2009 report that DiPietro still had a long way to go to get 100% healthy and play a lot of NHL games.

It goes without saying that this is good news. Obviously, one should proceed with caution when it comes to DiPietro and his progress. As Botta points out though, there is a stark contrast. Personally, I will feel 100% about all this when I see what happens after the year. I think most people would agree. We learned the hard way that this won't be easy. There were a couple of times last season where DiPietro talked about being much better, and he still only got to play in eight games.

If we go on the assumption that DiPietro gets through training camp and is healthy, then it creates a perfect storm for the playoff hopeful Islanders. Dwayne Roloson, the incumbent in net, will turn 41 during the 1st week of the season. Roli held up fairly well in 50 games last season after a rough start, but many wonder how much longer his body will hold up with the amount of playing time that comes with being a starter. What Roli has going for him is that he hasn't been an NHL starter his entire career, and as he claims, he has less wear and tear on his body.

Should Roli not be able to take on that much work, a healthy DiPietro would be huge. If you figure he can play in 35ish games, then not only does it keep Roli fresh, but it also eases DiPietro back into the starter role, which he could take back after Roloson's contract expires at seasons end. I wouldn't expect more from DiPietro than that this season. If he is able to play more, then it is a bonus. Nathan Lawson is an unknown, and was very good at the AHL level - he won rookie of the year in 2008-2009 - but for a team striving for the playoffs, I'm not sure many people are too confident in having him be the regular backup, which could be an unfair statement.

Regardless, the Islanders didn't bring in another goalie this offseason because: 1) They don't need another situation to arise like what happened last year, with disgruntled players at the deadline when both Roli and Martin Biron were still on the team and 2) because DiPietro does appear to be healthy.

Let's hope it stays that way, for our sake and his.

NEW LOOK COMING: Expect a little different look to the blog shortly. I have been toying around with different designs, and am still trying to finalize things and see what makes sense and looks nice. If you happen to visit us and the site is down, you'll know why. Just bear with us though and we'll have it all worked out in the end.

Thanks guys!


No comments: