1:15 pm – Rick DiPietro took part in the complete morning skate and then some in preparation for his pre-season debut tonight here against the Panthers. This was Type A-DiPietro for 35 straight minutes, yelling when Josh Bailey slid a low wrister past him glove-side, exulting when he stopped a one-on-one.
DiPietro will get the start tonight against Tomas Vokoun, but the unknown is how much he will play. The prediction here is two periods. This is a very hot building where hydration can be an issue. Two periods tonight plus a few more practices before the regular season begins Friday has some logic.
After the skate, DiPietro could not contain his excitement. He thanked his trainer Garrett Timms for his work getting him ready for the game and said he was as anxious for tonight as any game where they award two points for real. He said there was no gameplan for how many periods he will play. “We’ll see,” DiPietro said. “We don’t know at this point. Let’s see how it goes.”
I asked DiPietro if he has appealed to his defensemen tonight (no Witt and Martinek) to tighten up, play a more cautious style in the first period as he settles in. “No, they’ll be fine,” the goalie said. “I don’t want anybody to change their game. I want it to be a typical game, with regular game conditions. That’s the best way for me to get comfortable.”
Gordon also refused to commit to time-on-ice for his returning goalie. “We’re going to monitor how he’s doing, how he’s feeling,” said Gordon. “He needs to play his game. He’s going to play his game. It’s going to be hot in this arena. We don’t want him to cramp. We’ll judge it as the game goes on.”
Today’s morning skate featured a DiPietro Special, a drill that began with the goalie sliding a breakout pass to the near blueline. “Our defensemen need to be prepared to play in front of Rick,” said Gordon. “Sometimes they’re not the ones making the outlet pass. Sometimes they are the outlet.”