01 December 2010
When the final buzzer sounded Friday afternoon the Islanders had finally broke a 14 game losing streak. For some though, just as big as the win was the bigger triumph was seeing Rick Dipietro get his first win since October 21. “It's nice to get a game winning goal,” Jesse Joensuu told reporters after the victory over the Devils. “But I think it's more important for Ricky to get a shutout.” Prior to the November 26th win, Dipietro had not had a shutout since the January 19th meeting between the Isles and Devils.
Dipietro has struggled early in the season and had not seen action since November 3rd. However, when Jack Capuano came up to coach the Isles Rick came off the bench (as noted by Katie Strang in this article). Whatever the significance of Jack’s presence, Rick has been playing the best he’s played all year. In the past three games he’s had save percentages of 1.000 (against the Devils), .895 (against the Blue Jackets), and .943 (against Atlanta). His average save percentage for the 3 last games was .946 (estimated), which was better than his average (.882 estimated) during the Islanders early success this year.
States aren’t the only indication of Dipietro’s improvement. When you look at the last three games you’ll notice a much more confident Rick Dipietro. For example, stopping Rick Nash on a one on one break away during the Islanders/Blue Jackets on Wednesday night, his outstanding saves during penalty kills during both the Blue Jackets game and Devils game. “Your best penalty killer is your goaltender and I thought Ricky was great,” Islanders head coach, Jack Capuano, told reporters following the victory over the Devils. “Ricky has played extremely well. He’s done real well in practice and it's carried over into the last two games he's played.”
While his teammates praised and noted the hard work of Rick Dipietro following the Devil victory, Rick was quick to make sure he deflected the spotlight back to the guys in front of him and fans who still make it to the Coliseum. “You thank the fans for sticking with us,” Dipietro told reporters. “That’s a great crowd we had tonight. I've been here for ten years Long Island has struggled through a lot of bad teams. For them to stick with us I think they realize we have a group of great guys who really want to win for them.” Dipietro also highlighted key blocks by defensemen Mark Eaton and the great job by done by the penalty kill to kill two penalties in the third period.
Fans and media can assume that Capuano will stick with the hot hand in net (aka Rick Dipietro) for as long as he stays strong. But we’ve seen this storyline play out several times before, Dipietro comes back plays well then goes down with a season ending injury or he gets lit up like a Christmas tree. We can only hope that his play continues to improve, but for now we can say that Dipietro has come out of his funk.