February 4, 2011

DiPietro Out 4-6 Weeks

I decided to use my Friday off today to take the time and head over to the Coliseum to watch practice. I made the decision at pretty much the last minute, and in the end it turned into quite a busy day.

No sooner did I get there and take a seat and start scribbling some items in my notebook, the Isles staff informed me that I had to go to the locker room. Now I don't get the internet on my phone at this time, and left my house at about 11:45. So I truly had no idea what was up.

DiPietro has suffered another setback. Photo by C. Hessel
Before entering I asked what happened and was told Rick DiPietro was going to speak. My immediate thought was "uh oh."

I turn from the hallway to the entrance of the locker room. As soon as I enter, DiPietro removes his aviator sunglasses to address those of us there.

Upon seeing the condition of his right eye I immediately frowned, as would a parent walking into a room to see their child had done something bad. I kept thinking about the strong feelings I had after the fight where I essentially said it was foolish for DiPietro to be engaging in stuff like this no matter who did the initiating.

Just from looking at the swelling on his face I knew it was going to be a while. Arthur Staple of Newsday began to ask about the knee injury, and I was confused at first. I soon realized though what was going on here, that this was more than just some broken bones in his cheek.

My initial thought after hearing him speak and seeing the damage was that he was done for the year. The Isles are saying he's only out 4-6 weeks. I'm not one to tell people I'm right and things like that, but I'm sticking by my prediction. I don't expect to see him for the remainder of the season.

DiPietro however, remained optimistic that he would be able to return sooner rather than later. "I hope so, but I can't tell you how long it's going to take my bones to heal."

Meanwhile, DiPietro is also suffering from swelling in his knee, the same problem he has always been battling. "It's the same stuff we've been dealing with. I'm sure the rest will help."

When asked if he had any regrets for getting into the fight with Brent Johnson, DiPietro gave an emphatic "no."

"I'm not. I'm sick of losing, our team's sick of losing. You never expect to go into a fight and get smashed in the face that hard but it happens, he landed a good punch and we move on."

While DiPietro maintains that he has to move on, the Islanders now have to try and figure out their goaltending situation moving forward.

After practice, Jack Capuano said that nothing had been decided on goaltending from here on out yet.

"I haven't even talked to Garth yet. Obviously, we do have some prospects and I'm sure Garth will make that decision here shortly."

This afternoon, the team announced they signed goalie Joel Martin, currently backing up Mikko Koskinen in Bridgeport, to a two-way contract and kept him in Connecticut on loan to the Sound Tigers. Right now it appears that Koskinen is the favorite to come up with Nathan Lawson still ailing. Koskinen has had a number of issues in Bridgeport this season though, and still appears to be a ways away from living up to the billing as a 31st overall pick.

As far as NHL options, there are a couple that are out there. The most talked about one is currently Ray Emery. Emery has been battling serious health issues of his own in the past few years, but appears poised to make a return to the NHL. He and his agent are expected to sign a deal somewhere shortly, where he could start in the AHL for conditioning and work his way back.

A report from Friday says that the Anaheim Ducks and Philadelphia Flyers were pursuing Emery, as well as a third team. The feeling on that 3rd team is that they are "at a point where they're prepared to make an offer" to sign the goalie. The Islanders are certainly at a point where they can make an offer.

The Islanders passed on Mike Smith on waivers, but if he goes on re-entry then he could be another option. The Toronto Maple leafs have been shopping J.S. Giguere with the emergence of James Reimer.

Of course, if Evgeni Nabokov ever comes to his senses he would be welcomed with open arms now. One has to wonder if he is looking at this situation and changing his mind if he was serious about "visibility for next season." My guess is that he isn't since it was proven otherwise.

Right now, the number one is going to be Kevin Poulin who is obviously up for the challenge. The plan was to try and get Poulin back to Bridgeport at some time to become the number one starter there again, but now it appears like he won't be headed down there until the Isles season has been completed.

"It's bad luck for Ricky but I think it's a great opportunity for me and I'm just looking forward to playing some games."

Poulin continued, saying "The team has helped me a lot. My defense has blocked a lot of shots the last few games."

Capuano was quick when asked about his confidence in the 20 year old going forward. "Poulin's been playing great. Kevin wants to be that guy, he puts the pressure on himself to be that guy and every game he wants to know who's starting."

Poulin has a chance to shine now. Photo by C. Hessel
"I'm not worried about Kevin."

Many Isles fans aren't either, given his 3-2-1 record in nice games, with a .929 SV% and 2.37 GAA.

In all honesty, it would be nice to see the Isles pick up one of the aforementioned goaltenders but I have my doubts. It certainly goes against their thinking of just two weeks ago when they claimed Nabokov, but I think they are fine with just rolling with Poulin for a majority of the games from here on out and mixing and matching Koskinen and Lawson for the other games. We'll have to see what happens here.

Some other notes from practice:

-Mark Eaton showed up for the first time in what seems like a while. Upon entering the locker room, the players eyes lit up and they all flocked around him to see how he was doing. He was telling players that he was pain free, but still couldn't out pressure on his surgically repaired knee EDIT: hip.

-Zenon Konopka was very excited about a potential Twitter account. Apparently, as team communications coordinator Jesse Eisenberg pointed out, someone created a fake twitter account for the often outspoken center. He really wants his own account now, and every time he talked about it the media relations folks kept looking at each other with understandable petrified looks. We'll see if he gets his wish or not.

-Trevor Gillies practiced on the 4th line today with Konopka and Matt Martin. Rob Schremp wore an orange jersey with Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau and Jeremy Colliton. I'm assuming that there's a strong chance that Schremp is an odd man out next game with Gillies getting back in. It makes some sense after what happened last game. The Senators have guys like Matt Carkner and Chris Neil.

-I spoke to Ty Wishart after practice for a small getting to know you type blog entry. He's a good guy with a good personality and a good sense of humor, as he poked fun of himself and how many times he's been traded already. So look for that in the next day or so.

NYI FYI on Saturday: Due to the Super Bowl on Sunday and the fact that everyone has plans, we decided to do the show on Saturday this week at 1 PM. Be sure to tune in by going to our UStream page to listen to us live. There you can also participate in the chat room and submit your questions or thoughts for us to read on air.



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