Two years into his 15-year contract, goalie Rick DiPietro will miss the end of another season with a second hip surgery. Last year it was his left hip, this year it was the right hip, an injury suffered during the All-Star game skills competition, of all things. He'll go to the same doctor and GM Garth Snow says he'll be ready for training camp next season.
DiPietro was not the same goalie after the injury, going 7-12 with a 3.38 GAA since the break. He was hurt. The Isles did win six straight in that stretch but the first four wins saw an offensive explosion of 16 goals, which certainly helped. And the Islanders, after that win streak, were in the thick of the playoff hunt so D.P. wasn't sitting. Then, after his grandmother's death, he missed three games, including the second Rangers game, when many (myself included) questioned why he wasn't in there. Was Nolan hoping an extra game would help his condition?
D.P. returned against the Flyers and lost, 4-1, then got hammered by the Lightning and that may have been the death blow not only to the playoff hopes but D.P.'s season.
Players who battle through injury are called warriors, and certainly when you're dealing with a goalie, arguably the most critical position on the team, you like to see him fight to stay in there. But there comes a point when an injured player is hurting his team, and you wonder if that was the case here, although the Islanders certainly have plenty of other problems (scoring, the power play, injuries) that fed the collapse.
It reminds me of Robin Ventura when he was on the Mets. In a terrible slump, he was clearly not hitting like he should, yet he kept playing. Then, when the season ended, we found out he was hurt all along. Sit down, get whatever is ailing fixed and then come back strong. Having a hurt player batting fifth cost the Mets runs and, likely, wins.
Did that happen here? Probably. Would the Isles have done better with Dubie in the net? Maybe, but with their injuries and lack of firepower Billy Smith in his prime would have had trouble posting wins.
All we can hope for now is for D.P. to be healthy and back in top form next season, skip the skills competition, and for the Isles to land a stud in the draft. Maybe Snow can inject some life into this team in the off-season as well.