DiPietro will practice Monday with Islanders

New York Islander Goalie Rick DiPietro during practice New York Islander Goalie Rick DiPietro during practice at the teams practice facility "Ice Works" in Syosset on Tuesday November 24, 2009. Photo Credit: Joe Rogate

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Goaltender Rick DiPietro, who will begin practicing with the Islanders Monday, spoke Saturday for the first time since undergoing medical evaluations for the leg tightness he experienced Dec. 12 in his second rehab start for Bridgeport.

DiPietro downplayed the discomfort that kept him out of the third period of that game in Springfield and expressed relief that the latest detour in his rehabilitation proved to be relatively minor.

"Everything went pretty well in that game, but we thought it was just the smart decision to make," DiPietro said. "We thought that if we've come this far, let's just make sure everything's all right."

DiPietro said the tightness had nothing to do with his surgically repaired knee and that he feels ready to resume practice.

"I could've definitely gotten through that game if I wasn't trying to think smart," DiPietro said. "I think that shows I've matured a bit."

Given his lengthy road to recovery after season-ending knee surgery last year, DiPietro said he didn't want to jeopardize his future by making a hasty or stubborn decision to keep playing.

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"This isn't something to screw around with," DiPietro said. "This is my livelihood, my career."

DiPietro said he doesn't view the incident as a setback and is anxious to begin practicing with the team.

"I'm excited for Monday to get back with the group," DiPietro said. "It'll just be exciting to get back on the ice and practicing again."

When asked if he'd feel better prepared if he played a full game at the AHL level before making his NHL season debut, DiPietro said that decision is out of his hands and at the organization's discretion.

"Obviously, it's up to them," he said. "Whether it's a full game at the AHL level or the NHL level, I'll leave that to them. All I can do is feel good, stay healthy and try to do everything in my power to help this team win. And if that takes sitting out a period to [take precautions], that's fine."

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