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Islanders: What if Rick DiPietro Never Got Hurt? (Simulation)

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 25: Rick DiPietro #39 of the New York Islanders stands in goal against the Boston Bruins during the game on January 25, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 25: Rick DiPietro #39 of the New York Islanders stands in goal against the Boston Bruins during the game on January 25, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /
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What if Rick DiPietro never got hurt? It’s a question most New York Islanders have asked themselves. Today we try to answer it.

One of the greatest mysteries in New York Islanders fandom is what if Rick DiPietro never got hurt? From 2003-2004 through 2007-2008, DiPietro played in 50 or more games each of those four years.

After that four-season run, he would only play 50 more games over the course of five seasons. The injuries really started taking effect in 2007. During the season, Rick suffered two concussions in less than two weeks. He would miss seven games that year before having arthroscopic surgery to repair a labral tear of the left hip at the conclusion of the season.

Fast-forward to March of 2008, he needed season-ending hip surgery missing the final nine-game of that season. That’s when the wheels fell off.

DiPietro missed the first 27 games of the season, he would come back briefly but when there was swelling in his surgically repaired knee after just five games they shut it down once again. In 2009-2010 it was more of the same, knee issues only allowed him to play in eight games.

In 2010-2011 DiPietro was mostly healthy to start the season. He had two stints where he missed a handful of games but it wasn’t prolonged stretches, until February 2, when he suffered facial fractures from a fight with Brent Johnson. He missed 20 games from that.

In October of 2011, DiPietro suffered another concussion in practice from an errant shot. He played just eight games that year and three in 2012-2013 before he called it a career.

So what I decided to do today was to dust off the old Xbox (the original) and try to simulate what would’ve happened if DiPietro never got hurt.

Now, the rosters weren’t exactly the same, that would’ve been impossible to update the rosters to current form every year, but the main goal of this was just to see how much longer DiPietro could’ve went and what his numbers might have looked like.

What I got was mixed results:

DiPietro would play through the 2018-2019 season with the Isles before retiring at age 37, six years later than what happened with D.P. in real life with the Isles. Over that span, Dipietro was very streaky and the teams were mostly bad.

I can tell you that in my simulation, the Islanders only made the playoffs twice. In 2013-2014, the Isles got into the playoffs as the eighth seed and made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Final before losing in seven games.

The team regressed hard after that in 2014-2015, but bounced back the following year and made it to the second round of the playoffs.

No Stanley Cup appearance or Championship in Mr. DiPietro’s career but he finished with a .900 save percentage and a 3.02 goals against average over the final 11 years of his career.

Realistically, it’s not that far off (stat-wise) where DiPietro finished his career in 2012-2013. He finished with a .902 and a 2.87 GAA. if you want to factor in 2000-2008 into the equation, DiPietro’s save percentage for his career would’ve been a .901 and a 2.89 goals against for his entire career in this simulation.

Through most of the final 11 years of his career, he split time with Wade Dubielewicz and Evgeni Nabakov ironically enough. There’s no way to tell, what really could’ve happened to this franchise if Rick DiPietro never got hurt.

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Do they land Tavares? Do they upset the Penguins in 2013? The trajectory is completely different. This is the results of NHL 2K5 on the Xbox, do with it what you will but it’s certainly interesting to think “what could have been?”

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