Rick DiPietro took the ice at 10:39 am and soon after took five Thomas Pock wrist shots from the (near) right faceoff circle. After easily pushing them aside, DiPietro rejoiced: “I STILL GOT IT”!
He continued to take a series of shots from Pock, looking sharp, never wincing. I started to think that maybe the kid pulled a Strahan and this was just one big scam to get out of the first two weeks of training camp.
The rest of the team joined him and at 10:50 they did that manly thing where they twirl around the ice for a few minutes.
At 10:54, Scott Gordon blew his whistle and announced the first drill. While Yann Danis took pucks in his end, Joey MacDonald shared his goal with DiPietro. This means Joey is either tonight’s backup goalie, or just the swellest guy.
At 11:11, Gordon ended the workout, brought his players to the center of the rink and they did that thing where they lay on the ice and stretch their groins. Mike Comrie was today’s honored guy-in-the-middle of the team logo. From the looks of it, DiPietro made it through the skate with no problems. He left the ice at noon, trying not to look too over-joyed.
“It’s good to know all the work I did this summer paid off,” said DiPietro, thanking trainer Garrett Timms and the medical staff. “I had so much adrenaline, it was like I was at the Coliseum in front of 17,000 people.”
He said the word “patience” several times in his five-minute scrum with the media folk. He also shed some light on his surgery and rehabilitation. There was this doozy: “They tell me it’s a delicate surgery. I had to stay off the leg 8 weeks, 6 weeks, something like that.” He also said his work the first week of training camp was not easy: “Sudsie (Maharaj) put me through a grueling eight days in Moncton. Those are drills a goaltender never looks forward to.”
Gordon was happy to have his team complete.
“He looks good, feels great. He’s excited to be back out there,” the coach said after practice. “You know, sometimes it feels good to get hit by a puck at 100 miles an hour.”
Asked how important it is to have his No. 1 goalie back on the ice, the coach shared an old hockey Yogi-ism that could sum up the fate of the 2008-09 New York Islanders.
“There’s that saying, ‘Goaltending is 80%…unless you don’t have it. Then it’s 100%.'”
At the skate, Scott Gordon had just the 12 forwards expected to play tonight, 8 defensemen and 3 goaltenders. Here are your forward lines for The Rock:
Bergenheim – Comrie – Comeau
Tambellini – Nielsen – Hunter
Hilbert – Smith – Jackman
Fritz – Colliton – McLean
That means no Guerin, Weight, Okposo, Sim or Sugden tonight. They all skated after the formal workout, along with defensemen Streit, Hillen and Meyer.
I will have a postgame writeup tonight, hopefully with an Islanders guest.
Please don’t forget to try and make time to join me and Don La Greca on 1050 ESPN Radio Saturday morning from 10:30 – 11:30 am for “NY Hockey This Week.” Our scheduled guests are Scott Gordon and Devils GM Lou Lamoriello.