With the NHL season about to resume after the two-week Olympic break and tomorrow's trade deadline looming, the Islanders were saddled with worrisome injury news about goaltender Rick DiPietro. He is out indefinitely with knee swelling, the team announced Monday at practice.
DiPietro, who has battled several injuries the past four years, did not practice with the team Monday. Instead, he visited a doctor to have his leg checked out after he felt stiffness and swelling in his left knee after practice Sunday.
DiPietro, who was upbeat when speaking with reporters, said all tests showed his left knee is structurally sound.
"I think at this point, it's precautionary," he said. "After seven or eight days off, to kick it back into full gear might have irritated it a little bit. There's nothing major to report, just the stuff that goes along with the territory coming back from serious injury."
Said general manager Garth Snow: "I have a meeting with doctors [today], so I should have a clearer picture then.''
After playing only five games last season, DiPietro began rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee last August. He returned from injury Jan. 8 against Dallas and has played eight games, starting seven. He has compiled a 2-5-0 record with .900 save percentage and a 2.60 goals-against average.
"You don't want to turn something minor into something major," DiPietro said. "That's something we've learned along the way. With something like this, it's a temperamental thing. Sometimes it acts up, sometimes it doesn't. We've been lucky for the most part that things have been perfect."
DiPietro, who missed the last two games before the break because of the flu, has not played since Feb. 6, a 3-1 loss to Carolina. However, he did participate in each day of Islanders practice this past week and also jogged lightly past reporters on his way to work out at the Islanders' practice facility in Syosset yesterday.
"It's something I probably could've gone out there with and dealt with,'' DiPietro said. "I've got to give Garrett Timms and the rest of the medical staff tons of credit for reining me in a little bit and making sure I don't do anything stupid.
"It's one of those weird things where you feel great, but it's all about how you feel when you get up in the morning and how the injury responds. We just have to make sure we continue to monitor it and make sure we are on the right track and don't do anything to set us back."
DiPietro is out for tonight's game against Chicago; his timetable beyond that remains unclear.
"It's like anything, you fear the worst and hope for the best, and this is as close to the best as possible," he said. "This is a big thing we're battling back from here and we don't want to do anything foolish to ruin all the hard work we've put into it.''
Notes & quotes: The Islanders traded Bridgeport C Greg Moore to the Blue Jackets for Syracuse D Dylan Reese.