Rick DiPietro said if he had it his way, they'd have to peel his "dead corpse from the crease."

His latest setback, however, is much less serious.

The 29-year-old goaltender said he has been experiencing swelling in his surgically repaired left knee, although that didn't keep him from practicing Saturday during the team's morning skate. DiPietro said he's confident this is a minor issue and he simply wanted to play it safe.

"I obviously wouldn't have been out there skating if it was something serious," DiPietro said.

Coach Jack Capuano, who named emergency call-up Nathan Lawson as last night's starter, didn't seem worried, either.

"I'm not too concerned. It's nothing serious," Capuano said. "Rick wasn't going to play tonight anyway, so it's just good he gets a couple days' rest."

DiPietro said he wants to be cautious. "You've got to be conscious of it," he said. "We talked earlier in the season about walking that fine line between pushing it and not. We want to make sure everything is handled smart."

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Given his tenacity and intensely competitive attitude, DiPietro said he will leave the difficult decisions to the team's staff.

"As a player, sometimes you have to be protected from yourself and leave it up to the trainers and the doctors," he said. "They are the professionals and know what to do in a time like this. I trust them completely."

DiPietro, who is 4-6-4 in 14 games this season, said he is still learning how to manage his recovery from almost two years off.

"It's just one of those weird things. It's just kind of a day-to-day thing,'' he said. "It's been awesome so far, but there are good days and bad days when you come back from anything like this. It's just at the point where I'm trying to be as smart as possible. You just have to keep telling yourself there's a lot of season left."