How many times do you have to get hurt doing something before you stop doing it? If you've been following Rick DiPietro's career since being drafted first overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, you know the guy is one knee twist, one fall down, or one over-stretch away from the intensive care ward. Honestly, the guy is a skating medical textbook with all the injuries he's had. Wednesday night, DiPietro added another chapter to DeePee's Anatomy when he suffered facial fractures and knee swelling after getting himself into a tussle with the Pittsburgh Penguins' Brent Johnson. So let's just run this down objectively to see where we're at in DiPietro's career.
I'm going on record as a fan of goalie fights. Normally, the two most-protected skaters on the ice rarely engage in fisticuffs due to the 200-feet of ice between them and the fact that they don't want to hurt themselves when chucking fists at the other's padded body. When it does happen, though, it's usually a pretty good bout.
Tonight's heavyweight scrap looked like a pretty even scrap as the two men - DiPietro and Johnson - decided to "git it on" in the Islanders' zone. Johnson stands 6'3" and weighs in at 200 lbs. DiPietro is 6'1" tall and weighs in at 190 lbs. Johnson has a slight advantage, but it's not like we're talking Chara-Rolston differences here.
Let's go to the video to see how this one played out as Brent Johnson skates 150-feet to engage the feisty Rick DiPietro.
And BOOM goes the dynamite. Johnson unloads a massive left-handed haymaker that wipes the smile off the face of DiPietro. Notice how Johnson is preparing to unleash hell in that image as DiPietro thinks this is going to be some sort of slap-fight? The result was a crumpled heap of Islanders humanity lying on the ice. Yet again. How many times have Islanders fans see this now?
If you don't think Johnson threw everything he had behind that punch, check out this animation and watch DiPietro's hair when he gets punched. Johnson devastated DiPietro with that punch! That, readers, is why this fight only went one punch long. When a goalie is throwing haymakers like that, get him out of the pads and onto the fourth line for some intimidation! By the way, this is DiPietro after the game. Do you think Johnson opened up a can of whoop-butt on him?
So now we find DiPietro on the injured list again, out 4-6 weeks with facial fractures and a knee tweak. Shall we look at the man-games lost by one player on the Islanders at this point? (The answer is yes.)
- Missed 60 games due to knee surgery.
- Missed 41 games due to a swollen knee.
- Missed 36 games (and counting) due to various knee injuries.
- Missed 13 games due to groin injuries.
- Missed nine games due to hip surgery.
- Missed eight games due to headaches.
- Missed three games due to personal reasons.
- Missed two games due to neck injuries.
- Missed two games due to illnesses.
- Missed one game due to a "lower body injury".
- Missed one game due to a concussion.
Look, there's no doubt that DiPietro is a world-class talent when he's healthy. It's that little part at the end, though, that makes it hard to put DiPietro in the upper echelon of goalies because he never plays long enough in a season to show off just how good he is. The Islanders need to find a way to keep DiPietro on the ice somehow, some way if they ever want to return to the playoffs.
DiPietro is good, but he's nothing to the Islanders if he's not on the ice.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!