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DiPietro's rehab is on target, we hope

The thing that concerns me most about the Isles' upcoming season is, surprisingly, goaltending. I can buy that Scott Gordon will be a fine coach. I can buy that the powerplay should improve. I can buy that this is a necessary transition year -- yet I can even buy, over a strong beer or three, that they have a shot at the playoffs.

But I'm not sold on Joey MacDonald as our backup (admittedly, it's due to lack of data on my part). And last season made it clear that a) they need to limit Rick DiPietro's games, and b) they can only do that with a strong backup.

Enter the recent Newsday story about DiPietro's rehab. At first I thought it was a late-summer "we're overdue to run something on the Islanders. Seriously." fluff piece. But upon second glance, it reveals that DiPietro, after hip surgery and knee clean-up surgery, is "optimistic" that he'll be ready for opening night. This means training camp will be spent playing but perhaps taking it slow, rounding into form. And it implies that, at worst, our unproven backup starts opening night (not likely), or at best, our starter hopes to feel 100% for the first time only when the games start for real.

Not trying to make drama out of nothing here. But this could linger if we consider that the Isles need a good start for several reasons (the new coach, fan support, a chance at the playoffs, etc.), and that if DiPietro is not truly ready on opening night but plays anyway -- if he "rushes it" again -- we're in for a long season of wear and potential re-injury that could haunt him and the club.

We already went through that last year after the All-Star break. It wasn't fun.