DiPietro Ready To Return To Line-Up
The Islanders have hit the road and will play two games in as many nights, tomorrow against the Carolina Hurricanes and Saturday against the Florida Panthers. Al Montoya has been a pleasant surprise for the Islanders and has carried the work load in Rick DiPietro's absence. The 15-year man has been sitting in the press-box after taking a punch to the face from Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson that left him with facial fractures to go along with some knee swelling that put him on the IR for a 4-6 week time frame.
But DiPietro is ready to go once again and will likely get to start at least one of the games this weekend. It will be interesting to see how head coach Jack Capuano chooses to utilize DP since Montoya has been one of the best players for the Isles over the past few weeks. However there will be no doubt that these are the two goaltenders that will play for the remainder of the season, pending another injury.
Nathan Lawson was sent back to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and will likely stay there for the rest of the year. A return next season is doubtful for Lawson as he was placed on waivers before the trade deadline and went without any takers.
DiPiertro has only appeared in 21 games so far this season. Although that is not anywhere near close to a number one goalie's numbers, it is a vast improvement after starting in only 13 games in a two year span. This year he has posted a 3.36 GAA with a 7-10-4 record with one shutout along with a .890 save percentage. Montoya has made 12 starts and 14 appearances since his acquisition from the Coyotes. He has gone 7-3-3 with one shutout and amassed a 2.36 GAA with a .920 save perecentage. Keep in mind that Montoya's GAA has only recently crept over the 2.00 mark over the past week.
It's possible that fans may be looking at the tandem that the Islanders would like to start next season; everyone knows DP's contract status and Montoya is an impending RFA. Unfortunately, it only seems inevitible for extra playing time to come to whoever the back up is next year due to DiPietro's inability to stay healthy. Hopefully he will have a strong finish to the season that he can look to build on next year.
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