Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jose Theodore Bringing It (from On Frozen Pond)

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By George Richards

RALEIGH, N.C. – Remember how bad Jose Theodore looked during the Panthers preseason? Seems like a long, long time ago.

Theodore has been terrific for the Panthers this season, and put many questions following a shaky training camp to rest after shutting out the Islanders 2-0 in the season opener.

“We're well beyond how stinky he was in training camp,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “Part of the advantage he had was he was a veteran and I was able to believe in him. Give him the benefit, believe in the resume that he could go out and do it. Since the beginning of the year, he's given us a chance to win every night.''

Since that night, Theodore has won 10 games with a point in three of his losses. On Tuesday, he gave up one goal as the Panthers won their NHL-tying best seventh road game.

Coming into the season, Florida's goaltending was a question mark as starter Tomas Vokoun left the team and landed in Washington. Theodore was pegged as Vokoun's replacement and has fared well. Going into Wednesday, Theodore has stopped 92 percent of shots faces and is allowing an average of 2.29 goals per game.

Vokoun, whose Capitals trail the Southeast Division leading Panthers by five points, trails Theodore in both save percentage and goals-against. Both have 10 wins this season.

“It is always good to start the season off on the right foot,'' Theodore said. “The team is playing great and I'm feeling good.''

Although Dineen jokes that he was lying a bit when he said he wasn't concerned about Theodore's uneven showing in training camp now, Theodore says he stands by what he said at that time. “You remember,'' he said. “It didn't bother me.''

Now in his 14th NHL season, Theodore said in September that he wasn't worried, that when the lights of the regular season came on, he would be ready.

The Panthers weren't too sure. Before Scott Clemmensen needed knee surgery, there were rumblings that he may open the season on Long Island instead of Theodore. When Clemmensen went down, the Panthers went all in with Theodore. So far, so good.

There's little doubt Theodore enjoys being Florida's top goalie after spending last season as the backup in Minnesota. Theodore was thankful for that opportunity, mind you, after not being signed during the summer of 2010. An injury led to the Wild signing Theodore on the eve of the 2010-11 season opening.

“Last year was still a good experience for me and my career,'' said Theodore, who signed a two-year deal with the Panthers on July 1. “I had to find wins when I played, even though I didn't play every game. Right off the bat when I came here, they told me they wanted me to be the guy. I knew it was a challenge, my job to lose. But you still have to prove yourself every night. It's fun.''

Unlike Minnesota, Theodore had time to come to South Florida and get settled. With some family already living in the Boca Raton area, Theodore knew a little bit about the region and wanted to be here. Theodore isn't the only one comfortable with that arraignment. The Panthers are as well.

“Jose has the ball and he keeps running with it,'' Dineen said. “It's a ground game right now and he keeps going and going and going. He's doing a great job.''

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1 comment:

  1. Theodore isn't the only one comfortable with that [arraignment]. I think he means arrangement....

    I'm not surprised that Jose stabilized after training camp -- the last training camp he'd had that was anything close to normal was 2008, and he's had two very good seasons since them.


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