BUFFALO at ISLANDERS, 7:05 pmRick DiPietro starts; can the NYI impress again?

Chris Botta on Twitter

 

11:15 am - Rick DiPietro is the starting goaltender tonight when the Islanders host the Buffalo Sabres at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

 

Scott Gordon explained that he did not want the comebacking goalie to go too long between starts and liked the routine of the morning skate today for DiPietro. The coach complimented DiPietro for his honesty throughout the rehabilitation process and his hard work in getting back to the NHL. Gordon also very candidly admitted that last season he did not always fully grasp what the goalie was going through.

 

Plenty of lessons learned all around the organization, starting with DiPietro.

 

Gordon on DiPietro playing in front of the home fans: “Whether he gets a lift tonight will depend on how he plays.” The coach is so right. If DiPietro is not sharp or if he wanders too much, the crowd could go the other way.

 

Asked if he looks forward to a day when the issue of whether DiPietro is starting is no longer a story, Gordon said, “Yeah…you wanna start today”?

 

Thoughts from DiPietro and more on tonight’s start on Twitter.

 

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Lindy Ruff said the Islanders are not merely a collection of gritty-gutties, but of blossoming skill.

 

“They’ve built quite a crop of young talent,” the Sabres coach told reporters after his team practiced at the Coliseum on Friday afternoon. “They’re a group that’s playing hard for each other.

 

“You look at what John Tavares accomplished in his first half-season and then compare it to some of the struggles Steve Stamkos went through last year. Tavares is a very good player and he’s only going to get stronger. (Kyle) Okposo is outstanding and now Josh Bailey is really starting to come on.

 

“The Islanders are a good team with the puck. They are creative. I’ve seen some highlight-reel goals, some toe-drags…skill goals. But they also go hard to the front of the net.

 

“Detroit lined up the excuses the other night, but the Islanders really took it to them. The Islanders’ record is very indicative of the way they’ve played this season, and they continue to improve.”

 

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Ruff was right. I spent the majority of Tuesday morning and night around the Red Wings. As respectful as he tried to be to the Islanders – “Give them credit, they played a good game” – Detroit coach Mike Babcock down-played his team’s domination at the hands of the NYI by constantly talking about their travel schedule. Babcock said he knew the game would be impossible to play “the minute the schedule came out in July.”

 

If Gordon wanted a little something extra to push his team over the three-game mountain of vs. Buffalo and New Jersey and at Pittsburgh, he could point out to his Islanders that his team’s 6-0 win over Detroit was completely minimized by the Red Wings coach.

 

Consider this three-game stretch the latest barometer for the Islanders in this marathon on a season.

 

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