Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wait... that's Rick DiPietro's music!

Fifteen minutes can save you 15 percent or more on car insurance with Geico, but the most important 15 minutes for Islanders fans came Monday when Rick DiPietro -- remember him? -- practiced with the full squad for a quarter-hour.

D.P. had been getting some practice time in with the club, facing shots, but Monday was his first real run with the full squad, and the first real sign that his long rehab is nearing its end.

How important is a healthy DiPietro to the Islanders? Well, the team's been pretty awful since he left, and the lack of depth behind him was exposed last season when a couple of minor leaguers tried to fill the void. The only positive that came out of it was the No. 1 pick, John Tavares, so I guess we owe D.P. a debt of gratitude.

It will be very interesting to see how much DiPietro's presence changes the Islanders' fortunes. You would think that it would have a ripple effect -- the defense would be more aggressive and confident, which would in turn help generate more offense. That's assuming that DiPietro returns to his All-Star level, which is far from a given. But he is a hell of a lot better than what's been there the past year.

No disrespect to Dwayne Roloson and Martin Biron, of course. With D.P. on the horizon, there's already talk of the Isles moving a goalie and the logical one is Biron, who has reportedly drawn interest from the Red Wings.

If the Isles were a contender, you'd like them to keep Biron and let Roloson go for whatever they could get. But Biron would bring back more in return, so figure on Roloson remaining as the backup.

And let's be clear, he is nothing more than a backup. For all of his strengths in terms of positioning and experience, his lateral movement and quickness has all but left him. How he's started three of the first six games is beyond me. He is awful on shootouts and breakaways, and you could argue that the Isles could have had 1 or 2 wins by now had someone other than Roloson been in net.

Which is to say, we're really looking forward to DiPietro's triumphant return.

Meanwhile, the OTM line is breaking up already. Not because the Okposo-Tavares-Moulson line has been unproductive, but because everyone else hasn't. Okposo will play alongside the returning Franz Neilsen, with Doug Weight taking Kyle's old spot. Scott Gordon is hoping that spreading the wealth will get the offense moving.

In other news, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said the Islanders are welcome to come to Suffolk County, and I'm right there with him. As a Suffolk resident, I would love to see the Isles play in Islandia, or Yaphank, or Brentwood, or Melville, or anywhere closer than Uniondale.

It would certainly be better than Brooklyn, Queens or Kansas City.

Charles Wang has already made the Nassau-to-Suffolk move, taking Computer Associates from Garden City to Islandia years ago. So could it happen again? Selfishly, I hope so, but let's first try and get that Lighthouse built. OK?

9 comments:

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