The news that Rick DiPietro has begun skating will likely lead to the intensifying of murmurs among fans and media members that a goaltending controversy will shortly confront the Islanders. The original prognostication of a four-to-six week absence for the All-Star goalie still seems overly optimistic, and I will stick to my initial read of the situation, which said that we are unlikely to see DiPietro return before the new year. But know that any such goaltending controversy upon his return will be purely discussion for the sake of discussion.
I love what Joey MacDonald has done for this team. His performance has been unexpectedly impressive. He has turned a position of doubt into one that inspires confidence. I only hope that he can approach the same standard of play as a backup. For that is what he will be.
As good as MacDonald has been, a healthy, conditioned DiPietro is better. If his athleticism has not been compromised by his injuries, he brings another level to the last line of defense.
And for better or worse, the Islanders have too much invested in DiPietro to undermine his stature. He's still at the point in his career where he expects to best help the team by playing every game—not by splitting time or engaging in some healthy competition for the starting gig.
So if you have climbed all the way aboard the MacDonald train and you're looking for him to get a shot at #1 engineer, I think you'll be disappointed. That being said, the Isles would do well not to immediately throw DiPietro into playing too many consecutive games. Make use of a not-yet rusty MacDonald and give DiPietro a chance to get into real game shape.
AOL's NHL FanHouse featured Islanders prospect Rhett Rakhshani in this week's edition of Hi, My Name Is..., which focuses on NHL hopefuls currently playing college hockey.
It's a shame to see former Islanders coach Peter Laviolette lose his job as head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes. The dismissal demonstrates exactly how much capital a coach earns by winning the Stanley Cup (2+ seasons). Of course, we also learn that five seasons from now, Laviolette will have earned the right to return as Carolina's head coach, as the man he replaced is now doing. Maybe Laviolette and Paul Maurice can invest in a house that they flip back and forth every few years.
Anyway, this looks like a clear case of an organization looking to shake things up, and finding that firing the coach is the easiest way. I tend to root a little bit for other teams in the NHL for various reasons. Any team coached by Laviolette will be one of those teams.
Fantasy Stars Update
Game 21: Islanders 4, Canadiens 3, SO (The O'Byrne Own Goal)
1st Star: Bill Guerin (1 G, 1 A, 1 PPA, +1, 4 SOG, 1 BS)
2nd Star: Doug Weight (2 A, 2 PPA, +1, 1 SOG)
3rd Star: Trent Hunter (1 G, 1 PPG, 3 SOG, 1 BkS, 1 hit)
4th Star: Richard Park (1 G, 1 PPG, 3 SOG, 1 BkS)
5th Star: Josh Bailey (1 A, 1 PPA, 2 SOG, 2 BkS)
Faceoffs (W-L): Weight 4-8, Park 7-10, Hilbert 1-3, Colliton 5-1, Bailey 3-12
Game 22: Penguins 5, Islanders 3 (The Five Unanswered Against)
1st Star: Trent Hunter (1 G, 1 A, 1 PPA, +1, 1 SOG, 1 hit)
2nd Star: Doug Weight (1 G, 1 PPG, 3 SOG, 2 BkS, 2 PIMs)
3rd Star: Bill Guerin (1 G, 1 PPG, 5 SOG, 1 BkS, 2 PIMs, 1 hit)
4th Star: Mark Streit (2 A, 2 PPA, 2 SOG)
5th Star: Josh Bailey (2 A, 1 PPA, 1 SOG, 1 BkS)
Faceoffs (W-L): Weight 8-7, Park 11-13, Colliton 13-5, Bailey 7-3
Notes: Guerin demoted for being a -4; Hunter was the Isles' only plus player.
Game 23: Bruins 7, Islanders 2 (No Reminder Necessary—Or Desired)
1st Star: Nate Thompson (1 G, +1, 3 SOG, 1 BkS, 3 hits)
2nd Star: Mark Streit (1 A, 1 PPA, 1 SOG, 1 BkS, 5 hits)
3rd Star: Andy Hilbert (1 A, 1 PPA, 3 SOG, 1 BkS, 1 hit)
4th Star: Richard Park (1 G, 1 PPG, 2 SOG)
5th Star: Brendan Witt (1 A, 5 PIMs, 3 hits)
Faceoffs (W-L): Weight 6-10, Park 9-5, Thompson 1-3, Colliton 7-3, Bailey 6-8
Game 24: Islanders 4, Senators 2 (IV the Win)
1st Star: Andy Sutton (2 A, +2, 3 SOG, 2 BkS, 2 PIMs, 4 hits)
2nd Star: Freddy Meyer (2 G, 1 A, +2, 3 SOG, 2 BkS, 1 hit)
3rd Star: Andy Hilbert (1 G, 1 A, +2, 4 SOG, 1 hit)
4th Star: Trent Hunter (1 G, 1 A, +2, 3 SOG)
5th Star: Jon Sim (1 A, +2, 4 SOG, 10 PIMs, 1 hit)
Faceoffs (W-L): Weight 7-4, Park 6-6, Colliton 4-5, Bailey 4-8
The Fantasy Star Points Top Ten rankings are now posted at the bottom of the sidebar. Trent Hunter has edged in front of Mark Streit for the lead through 24 games.