(T)Rick or Treat?

Editor's Note: If you hadn't noticed, "Scoring Chance" Chris has joined the authoring staff at LHH, and has decided to touch the lightning rod of all Isles discussion. Please welcome him, and funnel your yea-DP/nay-DP/we'll-see-DP talk here.

Whether deserved or not, there is no denying that Rick DiPietro's place on the Islanders is a source of much discussion. In his quest to try and regain his prior All-Star form, DiPietro has split Islander Nation into two groups. No matter how you spin it, you're either Pro-Ricky or Anti-Ricky, and its really hard to argue with either side.

Even amidst a scoreless streak that encompassed the equivalent of 2 NHL games, a six-game winless streak, and a line renovation worthy of an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode, a lot of the focus was still on DiPietro, even though goaltending has been the least of the Islanders problems this year.

In three starts this season, DiPietro is 1-1-1 with a 2.67 GAA and a .904 Save %. But what do these stats mean?  I'm going to attempt to make heads or tails of Rick's performance so far this season and whether all of the gripes being made are warranted.

DiPietro's record in three starts for the Islanders has been as even as you can get. One win. One loss. One unsuccessful trip to Overtime. In three starts he's been part of 3 points earned by the Islanders, the same amount gained by Evgeni Nabokov in four starts and only one less than Al Montoya has in four starts of his own.

Rick has also managed to keep the Islanders in every game he's played in, and that's all you can ask from your goalie.  In his three starts, DiPietro has allowed 3, 2, and 3 goals, a respectable total in every game. Also, in DiPietro's shootout relief appearance, he allowed only one nifty goal by Evgeni Malkin, again giving the Isles a chance at victory.

His 2.67 GAA is better than Cam Ward, Roberto Luongo, Martin Brodeur, and Dwayne Roloson. His .904 Save % is better than all of theirs except Ward. There have definitely been bigger names in the league who have put up worse performances on the early season than DiPietro.

But while he may have better numbers than other goalies around the league, the naysayers would first point out that DiPietro's numbers aren't better than the other two Islanders goalies. While Montoya and Nabokov rank in the Top 21 in the league in both GAA and Save %, DiPietro ranks 38th and 42nd in each stat, respectively.

What seems to carry more weight is Rick's play in net. DiPietro seems shaky on most of the shots he sees. His rebound control has been poor, and he continues to wander outside the crease like a child who needs to see what's going on in the neighbor's yard, even though he's been told repeatedly to mind his own business.

There is also the theory that the team plays better in front of the other goalies. And while I do admit I was a subscriber to this theory, it's hard to validate it after Saturday night's victory over the Capitals.

As long as the Islanders insist on carrying three goalies, the debate on who should be in net will continue. But that doesn't mean Rick DiPietro's play this season deserves constant criticism. Until the Islanders production in front of each goalie starts showing some differences, it's time to give DiPietro a pass. At the end of the day, it's about the Islanders winning games, and they haven't shown they do it any better with someone other than DiPietro in net. 

Rick is here to stay, at least for the remainder of this season, possibly A LOT longer. And as long as his results stay this way, Islanders fans definitely have more important things to worry about.

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