BOSTON — Interim New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano seems like an affable enough guy, and no one could blame him for worrying little about stats with the troubles he’s trying to rectify with the moribund franchise he’s been asked to save the rest of this season.
But his reasoning for giving Rick DiPietro, the native of Winthrop, Mass., a start at TD Garden tonight against the Bruins is a little off. When asked about starting DiPietro, who this season is 3-4-4 with a 3.76 goals-against average and .874 for the 30th-place Islanders, Capuano cited “playing pretty good in Boston” as a reason to give the veteran the nod.
However, Capuano might’ve been thinking back to DiPietro’s one year as Boston University’s star puck-stopper. In the NHL, DiPietro hasn’t played at TD Garden since the 2007-08 season and he hasn’t earned a win on Causeway Street since March 11, 2006.
Since the lockout, DiPietro is 2-2-2 on Garden ice with a .916 save percentage.
The Islanders, however, probably consider any success — even four-year-old success — a positive considering they come in with a 5-15-5 record and have won just one of their last 18 games. This week, they held one two-hour practice and one that lasted longer than an hour.
“We’ve got to get going. Our conditioning level has got to get better, we’ve always believed in that,” said Capuano. “Not that it was bad, but it can get better. But there’s certain areas in our 1-on-1 battles and our tracking that are high-intense drills that we did. And we wanted to execute and have fresh ice when we did those drills and passing and shooting and skating. So I felt like we had a couple good days of practice.”