With the NHL All-Star selections less than a month away, head coach Ted Nolan placed his backing for Rick DiPietro
to make his first All-Star game in his career.
"People have to just watch our team play one time and they'll know that Rick is an All-Star," said Ted. "If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be in a lot of games."
Considering the Islanders are two games over .500 and just five points back of Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey, despite scoring a league-low 63 goals, is a testament to how much DiPietro means to the Islanders.
"To be an All-Star is to be valuable to your team," explained Nolan. "And you look at the importance of Rick. Some times we've had trouble scoring goals, but thankfully we have Ricky in net because he can stop a majority of the opportunities against us."
Fans may see what Rick does on the ice, but it's also his off-ice influence that impresses Ted.
"Rick does it all for us," said Ted. "Not only is he our number one goaltender, he's a leader in the room. He competes hard and loves the game. Rick is energetic and athletic. He's everything you want from an All-Star."
At only 26 years of age, DiPietro can only get better. His abilities since he joined the Islanders in 2000-01 have steadily increased.
"His play is getting better, but it's his maturity that's increased the most," said Nolan. "Now he's a more mature 26-year old. He's one of the first guys on the ice every day and wants to play every game. His maturity is coming along with his ability and you have a deadly combination.TANK OUT FOR TOMORROW
With Ruslan Fedotenko still nursing a shoulder injury, Ted Nolan will once again dress seven defensemen.
"It's one of those injuries that it's better to take an extra day than risk another couple of weeks. He's pretty close to returning. Hopefully he'll be ready by next game. We had some good success with seven defensemen, so we'll go with that again."To vote for Rick DiPietro to make the All-Star Game, please click on the Fan Balloting button on the right side of the front page.Search “Nolan” in the Islanders TV console for exclusive pre-game interviews with the Islanders head coach.