Saturday, April 28, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP)
Jose Theodore thought Adam Henrique was going high. The rookie went low. And with that, the New Jersey Devils went to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Henrique scored his second goal of the game at 3:47 of the second overtime to give the Devils a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers early Friday, sending New Jersey into a second-round series starting Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
"Got a pretty good bounce," Henrique said. "Found myself alone and tried to get it on net."
He did a lot better than that. Theodore said afterward he didn't have a great look at the final shot.
"I kind of lost it," Theodore said. "I thought he was going high. I didn't really see it through. And he beat me with a good ol' five-hole shot."
Just like that, the Devils were winners of a postseason series for the first time since 2007. And with the game ending in the early hours of April 27, it marked the 20th anniversary of Martin Brodeur's first postseason appearance in goal for New Jersey.
Henrique doesn't remember Brodeur's debut. After all, he was only 2. But this night, that'll be unforgettable.
"Pretty cool, I guess," said Brodeur, who stopped 43 shots.
Stephen Gionta also scored in regulation for New Jersey, which wasted a 2-0 lead in the third period.
Stephen Weiss and Marcel Goc scored third-period goals for the Panthers, and Theodore made 33 saves. The Panthers made a surprising run to the Southeast Division title this season, earning their first postseason berth in 12 years.
"This is not where the hockey people predicted us to be at the start of the year," Weiss said. "We did some good things. We're obviously disappointed not being able to move on. It's been a fun year. It's been a fun playoff in front of our fans."
The Panthers thought they were on the board 1:50 into the third period when Mike Weaver's shot from the right point got past Brodeur. Shawn Matthias was whistled for goaltender interference, nullifying the goal - and further firing up the already desperate Panthers.
"Yeah, they probably missed one on that one," Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. "But what are you going to do?"
Weiss cut the lead in half at 5:02 of the third, burying a one-timer from the right circle after a pass from Brian Campbell. The equalizer nearly came 3 minutes later, when Weiss had another shot blocked, Scottie Upshall nearly got his stick on the rebound - the Devils' Andy Greene tied him up just enough to thwart that chance - and Kris Versteeg's try was batted away.
Didn't matter. The Panthers kept coming, getting the franchise's biggest goal in 16 years.
Shawn Bergenheim made a nifty move to get free for a shot that Brodeur stopped. The rebound rolled left, nearly on the goal line, and Goc knocked it home from an extremely tough angle to tie it at 2 with 3:28 left.
And to overtime they went.
"Exhausting," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "A fitting end to the series."
The Devils and Panthers played 11 games this season. New Jersey won six, Florida won five, and the Devils outscored the Panthers 29-28.
As close as could be, all the way to the end.
"Just a bounce here or there," Versteeg said. "That's what happens."
The first 2 minutes of regulation - probably long forgotten by the time the game ended - went about as badly as could be for Florida, which quickly found itself down both a goal and a center.
Henrique opened the scoring when he tipped the puck past Theodore to get New Jersey on the board and silence an anxious crowd. Anton Volchenkov camped out at the left point, waited for a pass from behind the net to bounce off the boards and carom his way, then fired a one-timer that Henrique - considered by many to be the league's best rookie - directed into the net.
A half-minute later, things got worse for Florida.
Panthers center John Madden and winger Tomas Kopecky collided near center ice, and Madden took the brunt of the big hit. He writhed in agony for several seconds before trying to crawl to the Florida bench, the blood pouring from his face leaving a blotchy red trail along the ice. Two workers emerged to scrape up the mess.
New Jersey dominated the opening minutes, taking eight of the first 10 shots. Eventually, the Panthers settled down - getting 10 shots on Brodeur in the final 10-plus minutes of the first period, yet still heading into the first intermission trailing 1-0.
"They got one lucky tip," Kopecky said in a televised interview between periods. "You know, we weren't in a lane and we were kind of cruising around in our zone and it ended up in our net."
Lucky or not, it was enough to get the Devils going.
And fittingly, Henrique not only got his team started, but then he finished the job.
"I think I blacked out when I heard the thud of the back of the net," Henrique said. "It was a great feeling."
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Media reported "Theodore is with team. Injury not serious. Had it before." So that would definitely make it seem like it's his knee, and let's hope it really isn't serious. ******************************************************************************************** Unfortunately the Panthers couldn't pull out a win tonight, so the series heads back to Sunrise for Game 7 on Thursday (time not determined yet.) The Panthers only put 16 shots on goal. That's not a good way to win a game. Let's hope there is more offense on Thursday. By the way, Blogger just changed their site tonight, so everything is new to me. I might struggle for a bit. Bear with me.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
After the first period, the game is scoreless. José has stopped all 11 shots he faced. Let's hope for more of the same in the 2nd period (except with some Panthers' scoring...yeah, that's what I wish for.)
This was during warmups, so that's why there's a puck in the net.
After 2 periods the Panthers lead 1-0. So at least they got one, that's awesome. But I'm really hoping for another insurance goal. These one goal leads are so nerve-wracking! José is looking very sharp, but the Panthers are missing a lot of good scoring chances. Let's hope they can convert on those in the last period. José saved all 6 shots he faced in the 2nd period.
This feels so good!!! Panthers win 3-0 (3rd goal was an empty net.) José had a 30-save-shutout!!! And he was the 1st star!! That's what I'm talking about! So proud of him! The Panthers lead the series 3-2 and are headed back to NJ for a Tuesday game.
This photo edit is by Rob (from twitter.)
Friday, April 20, 2012
By Jay Greenberg
In what seems like the cleanest series ever played, the Panthers may also have gotten out of New Jersey with Jose Theodore's confidence unsoiled. When the Devils scored three goals, none of them particularly bad ones, within the first 6:16 of Game 3, coach Kevin Dineen had a fast hook and, it turned out, a charmed life as the Panthers rode Scott Clemmensen to an unlikely 4-3 victory.
Dineen, self-deprecating about his lack of NHL playoff coaching experience, has at least read Page 1 of the manual: If it isn't broke, don't fix it. Clemmensen, the 34-year-old career backup who had the only two victories the Panthers managed on in their last 10 regular season games, got his first NHL post-season start in Game 4 and was ordinary in a 4-0 loss that now begs another change for Game 5 Saturday night in Sunrise, Fla.
So while you can tie Dineen to the net, pelt him with rubber rats, make him watch Wojtek Wolski penalty videos until he screams and still not get him to admit to his goaltending plans until game time, Theodore will be in goal for better or worse and, probably until the end of the series.
He was excellent under the Devils' 26 shot barrage in the first period of Game 1. And good enough, after New Jersey scored two quick goals early in Game 2 to hang on for a 3-2 Florida win. So it's going to take another Devils' early-game flurry to drive the more talented of the two Panther goalies, representing the best hope for the less talented of the two teams, from the nets again.
"We know we are going home with two of three at home so we're in pretty good shape," said Stephen Weiss, who, as the oldest surviving Panther, clings longingly to the concept of a home-ice advantage that no longer seems to exist in the NHL.
Weiss sounds desperate
Then again, if Weiss, Florida's best player, sounds desperate, the steady-as-they-go Panthers, who roped the Devils' dopes into a 2-1 series deficit largely on the strength of the power play, could use some urgency now that it is 2-2.
"We didn't seem to have the desperation they had, even though we were down only one goal and we still thought it was a winnable game," said Dineen. "It seemed we were out of sorts in the third and couldn't establish our offensive game.
"We weren't very accurate and were just trying to get some shots on net and create some rebounds instead of scoring on the shot and that's not a very good formula against a goalie like [Martin Brodeur]. We made it an easy game for him."
The Devils have more means to make it a hard game for the Panthers than vice versa. They also have the more accomplished goalie, who in Game 4 got back to the top of his crease and game after also getting yanked in Game 3. So it would seem New Jersey is back in control as the series becomes a best two-of-three, but of course that can change on a bounce if Florida can capitalize.
"We learned from this game we have to play the full 60 minutes," said Tomas Kopecky. "At the beginning of the third period we let down. You have to be relentless on both sides.
"The bottom line is you have to outwork the guy across from you."
That has not been the case so far and is not likely going forward. In the series the Panthers have four even-strength goals, one of them, into an empty net. The Devils, their NHL-record-setting penalty killing of 89 per cent having plummeted to 40 per cent in the first three games, stopped all five Florida man-advantages in Game 4 and seemed to regain their mojo.
If that is the case, you wonder how Florida has the means to win this five-on-five, unless it is by scores of 2-1, always a possibility should Theodore ride back to the rescue.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
And here were my tweets in response to someone letting me know I wasn't being a very good Panthers fan.
And that's all I'll say about the decision. I'll update with the final score tonight.
The Panthers lost 4-0. I think we'll see José back in Game 5. Again though, this wasn't a goalie loss. The team in front of the goalies is the problem. They really need to show up for a full 60 minutes at some point in time.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
And Coach said "You can't hang that start on Theo. He's been terrific in this series."
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
I am pleased that the Panthers are leading, of course. But I am pretty irritated that the team got José pulled. Garrison was interviewed after the 1st, and he admitted they gave no support to José.
Marty Brodeur was also pulled after the 3rd goal against. So now it's Clemmensen vs. Hedberg.
Sorry I didn't update last night. I was too busy defending José to idiots on the internet. They weren't worth my time, but I'd had enough.
Anyway, the Panthers came back and won, 4-3. It looked like a different team after they left José hanging and got him pulled. I guess it woke them up.
Let's hope they play like that a whole game on Thursday. We'll see who the starter is. Most people are calling for Clemmensen. The coach just said "I have tremendous respect for Jose and it was extremely hard to pull him out." He went on to say there would be big decisions in the coach's room before tomorrow and he feels good either way he goes.
Monday, April 16, 2012
And thanks to Nelly for this one. She recorded this with her phone from TV. It was on a local Miami sports show last night. She apologized for the quality, but I think it's fantastic.
And here is Nelly's video of the end of the game and goalie love, etc.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Check out the pucks in this photo ("win.")
Sorry for the slow updates. I got so distracted by the game, I totally forgot.
What a game!! The Panthers were leading 3-0 after 2 periods. Then the Devils came out flying in the 3rd and scored a couple of quick goals. But José and the rest of the team hung on for the win. José is so clutch. He held down the fort when it was really needed with some big saves.
And now he has that stupid playoff knock off his back. The way people have knocked him about his playoff record is ridiculous anyway, because they are only looking at his past 2 trips (with the Capitals.) And the biggest problem there was the coach not giving him enough of a chance to right the ship. Before that he was the MVP of a playoff series in Colorado, and he practically singlehandedly beat the Bruins 2 different seasons in the playoffs in Montreal. He has done well in playoffs, and he's not been given a fair appraisal the past couple of years. One of these days I'll write a more complete post about that.
But for now, let's enjoy this victory. The Panthers head to NJ with the series tied at 1. They have their first playoff victory under their belt since 1997, and they are ready for more! They play on Tuesday and Thursday in NJ. Then back in Florida on Saturday.
José ended tonight saving 23 of 25 shots.
By George Richards
Kevin Dineen said jitters couldn’t be used as the reason for an awful first period that led to a loss in the franchise’s first playoff game since 2000
The Panthers seemed to get over whatever jitters they might have had in their first postseason game in 12 years on Friday night.
It came at a cost.
Florida watched New Jersey run roughshod in the opening period, with Patrik Elias scoring on the team’s 13th shot on goal just 6:31 into the game.
The Devils took 26 shots in the opening period alone, as New Jersey went into the first intermission up 3-0. The Devils won the opener of the best-of-7 series 3-2, with Game 2 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
With Game 2 coming up so quickly, the Panthers know they can’t have a reserved start. For Florida to even the series heading back to New Jersey later this week, the Panthers need to play with the same resolve they did in the final two periods Friday and forget about that brutal first.
“At the end of it, the first period sticks out,” coach Kevin Dineen said. “We answered and pushed back. Over the course of the year, we’ve leaned on the positives. There were things to build on. I think we’ll be better prepared [Sunday]. You have to give credit to your opponent. They came out [like] gangbusters. That’s been their M.O. all year. They come out hard. You can use excuses like jitters and things. But we got outplayed early and have to own up to that.”
One positive that came out of the opening period Friday was the play of goaltender Jose Theodore. Although he did give up three goals, it wasn’t like he had much help out there. The 26 shots Theodore faced were the most in a single period of a postseason game in four years.
If Theodore looked out of breath at some points, well, he was.
“My cardio was pumping, and it was hard to catch up at times,” Theodore said. “You didn’t really have time because they kept coming and coming. It’s tough physically. But you prepare all year for games like that, the playoffs. Hopefully, this is the last time we face 26 shots as a team.”
There was some external debate on whether Dineen was going to start Theodore or backup Scott Clemmensen — although there apparently wasn’t much of an internal one as Theodore admitted Saturday that he “knew a pretty long time ago” that he would be starting in Game 1.
And after his performance against the Devils — he stopped 35 shots — he’ll be back Sunday.
“He was fantastic,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. “I thought he was great.”
Although the Panthers figured New Jersey would come out humming — the Devils took the initial lead on Florida in three of four regular-season meetings — no one saw that kind of attack coming.
“I don’t think that’s something you plan on,” Theodore said Saturday morning. “They are a team that come out hard in the first. They were ready to play. We were just trying to battle. With 20 minutes left, it was a one-goal game. It was 3-0 after the first, but you don’t lose your focus. You keep pushing. Instead of letting down, we played two good periods. We almost came all the way back.”
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/15/2748871/no-room-for-excuses-as-florida.html#storylink=cpy
Saturday, April 14, 2012
And I am actually going to include video of Marty Brodeur's locker room interview, because of what he said about José. It's at the :55 mark. He actually said this in two different interviews (the on-ice interview right after the game, and then in the locker room.)
And the video of the stellar save on Zach Parise in the 3rd to keep the game winnable (if this shot had gotten past, it would have been 4-2 and that would have been the nail in the coffin.)
Friday, April 13, 2012
On Tuesday afternoon, I was asked to join Josh Luecht from TheRatTrick.com on his podcast, Rat Trick Radio, to preview the playoff goaltending situation for the Florida Panthers. This was a really quick and fun discussion, as I am personally quite intrigued with this first-round series between the Panthers and the New Jersey Devils.
Click here to find the podcast.
Josh asked a solid set of questions, including the underrated and under-the-radar status of both Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen, their ability to play well in the playoffs, and what they can do to be successful against the Devils. He also asked for my thoughts on Martin Brodeur, specifically what the Panthers can do to be successful against him. We also took a few minutes to discuss beastly #3 goalie Jacob Markstrom, and what makes him my top-ranked prospect.
Thanks for taking a few minutes to check out the Rat Trick Radio podcast, and be sure to follow these guys on Twitter @RatTrickRadio if you are looking for solid content on the Panthers. It’s an exciting time for hockey fans in Florida, and I’m excited to see how this quarterfinal series goes down!
If I were to apply the five different dynamics of playoff goaltending that I discussed back on Wednesday, I come out thinking the Panthers could be primed for an upset. Both Theodore and Clemmensen are rested (53 and 30 games played respectively), and they are veteran goaltenders with tons of experience, so they bring a poised and relaxed presence to the Panthers crease. They have worked well together as a tandem all season long, and even though they aren’t considered a highly skilled tandem, they are silent assassins that get the job done quietly.
Although I have no evidence to back this up, I do wonder if Theodore is truly 100-percent healthy right now. Josh and I actually chatted on the phone for a good 10 minutes after the podcast ended about this topic. We both agreed that he didn’t look the same in the final five games of his regular season, and after winning four straight games from March 11-17, he went on a downward spiral, going 0-3-4 to finish the season. He performed well in the first five games of that downward spiral, allowing just 12 goals, but the final two games were particularly troubling, as he allowed nine goals on just 53 shots.
There are certainly many ways to try and discern if Theodore is truly 100-percent healthy or not, but since I can’t watch the Panthers practice, there’s no knowing for sure. If you’re a Panthers fan, maybe you saw some things in his final few games that made you wonder about his health, but I hate to speculate (even though that’s exactly what I’m doing). I saw some things in terms of slightly limited mobility and flexibility, but nothing that led me to believe he’s truly playing through an injury. I simply don’t know for sure.
Furthermore, he could be trying to play through some nagging aches and pains, making it even tougher to know how he’s truly feeling heading into Game 1. Many goalies do this on a fairly consistent basis, as it’s just part of being a durable athlete in the game of hockey. Nobody wants to admit they are hurt, and everyone wants to play every single game, no matter what. That’s part of being a professional goaltender.
As of publishing this, it still wasn’t clear who would be the starting goaltender for Game 1. Many people believe it will be Clemmensen getting the nod, as he has an opportunity to seek revenge on his former team, and his former head coach, Pete DeBoer. That makes a lot of sense to me, and it’s obviously not a bad choice considering how well he has played down the stretch for the Panthers.
Things bring me to another one of the five dynamics — personal matchups. Theodore is 8-14-3 with a 2.64 GAA and .903 SV% against the Devils in his career, and 1-0-1 with a 2.40 GAA and .915 SV% (54 saves on 59 shots) against them in a Panthers uniform. Clemmensen is 4-0-0 with a 2.05 GAA and .937 SV% against the Devils in his career, and 1-0-0 against them this season with 27 saves on 28 shots, a .964 SV%.
Clearly, Clemmensen would deserve to start Game 1 tonight with those kind of career stats. But as I said in the podcast above, I would still start Theodore. He carried the team for most of the season, and if the coaching staff feels he’s healthy, enough time has gone by from his last game to where he could have recovered from any minor nagging tweaks or bruises. If he struggles, or shows that he’s clearly not healthy, having Clemmensen coming off the bench is not only a spark, it’s something he (and the team) is comfortable experiencing. He has done it all season long, and doing it in the playoffs won’t faze him one bit.
This may not be the way the coaching staff sees things, so it’s going to be fun to see how things pan out for tonight’s game. I really do like this goaltending battle — I don’t think Brodeur and the Devils are going to cruise. I might be one of the only analysts that took the Panthers to upset the Devils, and I’ll stick by that prediction.
So after one period, the Panthers trail 3-0, José saved 23 of 26 shots. They also had to kill 6 minutes of PP. One goal was scored during the 4 minute PP (which resulted from a totally bogus high-sticking call.)
Let's hope they can cool down the Devils in the 2nd, because José is under siege.
The Panthers came alive in the 2nd period and now only trail by 1 goal (3-2.) José had a little more breathing room and only had to face 6 more shots, so he's saved 29 of 32.
Let's hope the Panthers can keep the momentum into the 3rd period.
I can't take any screen captures tonight, because the game is blacked out on Gamecenter (I believe most of the playoff games will be, because they are almost all televised on one network or another.) Since tonight's game is on NHL Network, it's blacked out on NHL Gamecenter for 48 hours. But luckily I upgraded my cable package 2 weeks ago, just for this reason, so now I get NHL Network.
Well, I have to say I'm more calm and ok than I thought I would be after a loss. But I honestly feel pretty good about the Panthers play...except for that atrocious 1st period. And that period showed people that José is still on top of his game facing those 26 shots. Martin Brodeur said "If it wasn't for José, the score would've been a lot higher. He played unbelievable." That's from the legend himself.
So José kept them in it in the first, the Panthers were better in the 2nd, not so great in the 3rd, but they really hung in there. So I felt pretty good after it was all said and done.
Dineen said "A solid night by our goaltender. If he didn't play the way he did in that 1st we would've been in trouble."
He ended up with 35 saves on 38 shots. And I feel he will get the next start. I'm so proud of him!
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Posted April 9, 2012 at 5:39 p.m.
Article found here.
CORAL GABLES — For the biggest game of the season, the Florida Panthers chose Scott Clemmensen over Jose Theodore.
The next game is even bigger. So is the Panthers' goaltender dilemma.
Florida hosts its first playoff game in 12 years on Friday night, facing New Jersey in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round series. And Panthers coach Kevin Dineen does not plan to divulge his starter in net until that day, giving him plenty of time to weigh his options.
"I'll give it a gut-check," Dineen said. "I haven't talked to my belly yet."
Theodore started 51 games for the Panthers this season, but the team lost each of his last seven starts four of those in either overtime games or shootouts. Clemmensen got the nod in the regular-season finale against Carolina on Saturday night and made 35 saves to help Florida clinch the Southeast Division title and home-ice advantage for the first round.
On Monday, as Theodore and Clemmensen sat side-by-side at their lockers inside the Panthers' practice facility, a swarm of reporters surrounded Theodore. The scrum extended so far that Clemmensen had to step aside just to change out of his gear.
Neither will step aside before Friday, of course, meaning Dineen has a tough call ahead.
"Obviously you want to play every game," Clemmensen said. "Every player wants to. I play the hand that I'm dealt and make the most of it and that's all you can do. Then you put the decision in their hands. And when you play well, you make a case for yourself and you give them confidence in you."
Over the last month, Clemmensen's numbers would suggest he has an edge.
In four starts and one brief relief appearance, Clemmensen's goals-against-average is 1.19 and he's stopped 96 percent of the shots he's faced. Theodore's GAA over that span is 2.27 in 12 starts, saving 92 percent of shots coming his way.
"Our goalies have been excellent for the most part, and that makes for a quality choice when we do get going," Dineen said.
No such dilemma exists in the opposing locker room. Martin Brodeur swept the Panthers out of the playoffs when they last appeared in 2000, and he'll be in net for the Devils again on Friday night.
Clemmensen faced the Devils once this season, stopping 27 of 28 shots in a 3-1 win on Feb. 11. Theodore played twice against New Jersey, making 54 saves on 59 shots as the Panthers won once in regulation and lost the other in a shootout.
"I've got a really exciting decision to make," Dineen said. "I don't look at it as a burden. I look at it as something that I can't go wrong either way."
If there's one area where Theodore holds a huge edge over Clemmensen, it's playoff experience.
Theodore has 47 career playoff starts, the last of those coming April 17, 2010 for Washington against one of his former teams, the Montreal Canadiens. Theodore allowed goals on the only two shots he faced in Game 2 of that series, got pulled for Semyon Varlamov and never returned to the ice for another second of that seven-game matchup eventually won by the Canadiens.
"I know he's a heck of a goalie that's had playoff success and I know he's played some quality hockey for us this year," Dineen said, speaking of Theodore. "And Clem's done a heck of a job for us for the last three weeks. So exciting time in our net, to say the least."
Clemmensen has one playoff appearance, lasting all of 6 minutes and 53 seconds he replaced Brodeur late in the third period of a game against Carolina on May 6, 2006, after Brodeur allowed six goals to match the most he's ever given up in a playoff contest.
Theodore said waiting to get the word from Dineen won't affect him this week. Dineen tended to handle the who's-going-to-start issue the same all season, rarely tipping his hand much before game day.
"To be honest, it doesn't change the way you prepare," Theodore said. "It doesn't change anything. After a full year like this, you're kind of able to predict a little bit of who's going to play because we know kind of the way the pattern was going all year."
Except as of now, it's still anyone's guess.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
At first glance, the Panthers are facing a well-known foe when the playoffs open up this week.
The New Jersey Devils were the last team to face the Panthers in the postseason with Martin Brodeur picking up four wins as the Devils swept Florida in the 2000 opening round. Florida center John Madden was part of that Devils team and admits he is still friends with a number of former teammates on that team. Scott Clemmensen played for New Jersey as recently as 2009.
Devils coach Pete DeBoer, well, we all know that story.
Aside from those connections, however, and the Panthers and Devils don't know much about each other. Both teams have two wins in the season series, one that ended way back on Feb. 11. When the Devils come south, it will be their first visit to Florida since December 13.
Florida plays host to the Devils in the opening game on Friday with Game 2 on Sunday. Florida visits New Jersey on April 17 and 19. Game 5, if necessary, will be in South Florida on April 21. All games will be televised locally on FS Florida.
“We’ve got a lot of homework to do over the next couple of days,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “We’ll be very busy as a staff to give our players the right amount of information on New Jersey. I have tremendous amount of respect for that organization. Lou Lamoriello has a level of stability there and Pete’s done a wonderful job this year.
“They’ve got some really entertaining players, and I’m not blowing smoke. That’s a good team we’re going to play. So we’re going to need to be at the top of our game in the playoffs to have success in Round 1.”
Even though the Panthers are the third seed in the Eastern Conference, they are the definite underdog in the opening round. The Devils finished the regular season with a flourish, winning six straight with three of those wins coming against playoff-bound teams.
The Devils also earned eight more points (with 10 more wins) in the regular season than Florida did, finishing fourth in the Atlantic division behind the Rangers.
Florida, meanwhile, snapped a five-game winless streak by beating visiting Carolina 4-1 on Saturday night. That win brought the team its first division championship in franchise history and the third seed in the east.
Madden resumed his hockey career with the Panthers after signing as a free agent in January, making his season debut Jan. 6 against his former teammates in Newark. Madden, who scored his third goal of the season on Saturday, said the Devils are a different bunch than the one he left behind in 2009.
“I still know a lot of the guys and take vacation over the summer with some of them,'' Madden said. “It's business as usual. This is playoff hockey, but you look back to see how you played them, see how you match up. I'm sure they feel they match up with well against us. It's going to be a good series.''
The key to the Devils – as has been the case since the mid-90s – is Brodeur. The three-time Stanley Cup champion turns 40 next month and hasn't taken the Devils out of the second round since 2003. Brodeur is 1-2 against the Panthers this season, but his 37 wins against the Panthers are most by a single goalie all-time. In 2000, Brodeur gave up just six goals in the four-game sweep of the Panthers.
Clemmensen spent parts of five seasons backing up the future first-ballot Hall of Famer and filled in admirably when Brodeur was injured and missed most of the 2008-09 season. Clemmensen's success as a fill-in starter led to a three-year deal from the Panthers the following summer.
Clemmensen could be tabbed as Florida's starter at least for the time being. Clemmensen stopped 34 of 35 shots on Saturday and has given up just five goals in his past four starts. Clemmensen is also 4-0 against the Devils over the course of his career.
“I feel good about my game right now,'' Clemmensen said. “Whether I start [Game 1] or not, I'm going to be ready to play. It could be Game 2 or whatever. I'll be ready. I don't know who is going to start. You do the best you can and you want to play every game.
"I've had four starts in four weeks and I played the hand I was dealt. You make the most of it, put the decision in their hands.''
There is still plenty of support for Jose Theodore in the locker room, especially since a good number of players give Theodore credit for helping the Panthers get where they are today. “Clemmensen made a real statement with his game [Saturday], as well as in the last month,'' Dineen said.
Said Ed Jovanovski: “Theodore has played the majority of the games this season and has been our MVP. That's how I feel about it. We know we have two great goaltenders.''
--Not long after Dineen was hired by the Panthers as coach, DeBoer gave him a call not only to offer his congratulations but to talk about the position. DeBoer coached the Panthers for three seasons before being fired the day after Florida's win over Washington in the 2010-11 season finale.
DeBoer, who had a season left on his contract with the Panthers, was hired by the Devils in July.
No one could have guessed the two coaches would be facing each other in the opening round of the playoffs.
“We never know how those things play out,'' Dineen said. “It’s a tight circle, the hockey world. There’s always a level of respect. The coaching community is always tight. Pete has done a heck of job over there this year and he knows our players well, he’s got a little bit of an advantage on that front.”
--The Panthers will hold practices from Monday through Thursday at the Saveology.com Iceplex in Coral Springs. Practice, which is open to the public, is scheduled to begin at 10:30 each morning.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
I'm not happy with this decision. I understand the Panthers haven't won with José in goal for a few games, but after the great play he gave them this season, this seems like a slap in the face. I know it's a very important game, SE division title on the line, but I feel like Dineen is punishing José for the recent losses, even though they are team losses. Yet José is the one that got the team to this position.
But that's an emotional response from a José fan, so take it for what it's worth. Maybe I could look at it as giving José a rest before the playoffs begin. Of course, if Clemmensen starts the first game of the playoffs, then I'll know that's not the case...
What bothers me the most are Dineen's comments from last post-game. This is from George Richards' On Frozen Pond:
It will be interesting to see whom coach Kevin Dineen starts against Carolina. Dineen reiterated that Jose Theodore is Florida's starting goalie, yet he wasn't happy with Theodore's past two performances. Florida could have clinched the division with a win Tuesday against Winnipeg yet coughed up a 3-0 lead and lost 5-4 in overtime.
On Thursday, Dineen pulled Theodore after Washington jumped to a 3-0 lead in the second. Theodore took a break on the bench before returning less than two minutes later.
“He's not getting off the hook,'' Dineen said. “He's been my go-to guy and he needs to get it done. He has to make sure his game is in order. He's been around a while and we have a strong relationship. He knows my expectations.''
Thursday, April 5, 2012
We need the offense to show up...soon!
The Panthers trail 1-3 after the 2nd period. José was pulled temporarily after the 3rd goal, but was back in not long after. Seemed to be more of a "breather" rather than using a timeout. None of those goals were soft, it's just unfortunate that this had to happen against Washington, in Washington. The fans were not kind to him.
Ok, so I would've much rather won tonight to clinch the playoff spot, but however it happened, it happened. Buffalo lost tonight, so both the Caps and Panthers clinched playoff spots. The Panthers can still clinch the division with a win on Saturday, last game of the season. They're trying to make it as exciting as possible, I guess? ~sigh~
I am extremely proud of José for sticking it out, not losing his cool after the 3 goals, and after being temporarily pulled in the 2nd. He hung in there and gave them a chance to win. The Panthers just couldn't convert on many opportunities.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
After one period the Panthers lead 2-0!! That feels good. I'm not counting on anything yet, but at least we have a little breathing room. The Panthers are outshooting the Jets 12-5.
José saved all 5 shots he faced. He wasn't tested too much, but one of those was a difficult save, and he came through with flying colors.
Well, things got a little hairy there in the 2nd half of the 2nd period. The Jets scored 2 and cut the Panthers lead to 3-2. The Jets poured it on with 13 shots on goal, and José stopped 11 of them. The 2nd goal that was scored was after he made 3 initial saves. Big period coming up. The Panthers can't sit back.
There is less than 9:00 left in the 3rd period and the Panthers now trail 3-4. Just know if they end up losing, I won't be updating this entry for a while. So if there isn't an update, you'll know why.
Ok, the Panthers lost 4-5 in OT. José stopped 25 of 30 shots on the night.
I'll just say that the Panthers wouldn't even be close to the position they are in if it wasn't for him, so if he let in a soft goal tonight, then I could point fingers at a whole lot of other games where he stood on his head. The rest of the team could've stepped up, and they didn't. And that's all I'll say about that.
They only need 1 point to clinch the division still. They have 2 games left, one in Washington on Thursday, and then at home vs. Carolina on Saturday. They will get that point, and they will clinch the division. It's just going to be a little longer for it to happen.
José Theodore is still the MVP of this team, as far as I'm concerned, and I honestly don't care what anyone else says.
Monday, April 2, 2012
I typically post the same type stuff here, but if you'd like to see it on your FB wall, you might like it there. Just wanted to let you know about that in case you didn't already.
My main point of this post is that a follower over there has posted some really neat photos the past couple days. She's a fan of his from back in his Montreal days, so she has some older photos that I had never seen before. It seems most are from magazines and newspapers. Her name is Marielle, and I'm not sure if she visits here, but if so I wanted to say thanks again, Marielle!!
My all-time favorite has become this one. I've been hoping for a nice quality childhood photo, and here it is. Little José playing for Richelieu Riverains. I can't get over the adorableness of this.
This was from the night of José and Stephanie's first "official" date. It was the opening of Planet Hollywood in Montreal in July 1998. It was the first time they were out in public in full view of cameras, etc. And he had said in an article once (thanks to Val for the info) that the Planet Hollywood opening was their first or second date. She had just turned 21 and he was not quite 22 yet.
These were both from 2000.
Then these were all from 2002
The inset here includes Stephanie (being hugged), her sister Véronique Cloutier and her husband Louis Morissette. I asked what the photo was from, and Véro actually responded that it was from the 2002 playoffs against Boston!
And we all know what this is from!
Thanks again, Marielle!
Florida Panthers Being Carried by their Goalies ... Jose Theodore, Scott Clemmensen Standing Tall for Cats
If the Panthers hope to party like it’s the 1999-2000 season -- the last time they reached the playoffs -- they’ll continue to ride their goaltending duo.
Starter Jose Theodore (22-5-10) holds a 2.38 goals-against-average with a .920 save percentage in 49 games. Backup Scott Clemmensen (13-6-6) made 31 saves in Sunday’s shootout loss to Detroit, but moved to 2-0-1 in his last three games with a .959 save percentage.
Over the past few weeks, Clemmensen started two other games, winning in both Philadelphia and Montreal.
“Our goaltending’s just been really reliable, it’s been solid, it’s been a difference maker,” coach Kevin Dineen said.
“They are two guys that really mesh well together. There’s chemistry between them. I think Clem understands that he’s not always getting the start two, three times a week.
“And I haven’t given him easy games. He’s really done a fabulous job for us. That is not an easy thing to do. And I think that helps keep Jose sharp as well. So it’s really been a good balance for us this year.”
Following Sunday’s game against the Red Wings, Clemmensen said that now is the time of the year to be playing one’s best hockey.
“The whole team’s into it, such a fun time to be playing right now,” Clemmensen said. “Everyone’s expecting to make the playoffs, you want to be there and contributing as opposed to years past when we were out of it and playing for pride or yourself. It’s always fun to be a part of what’s going on right now in South Florida and the team.”
And through it all, the pair has had to be at top form of late. Over the past seven games, the Panthers have scored just 10 goals.
Despite this span, Florida earned at least one point for the 11th time in its last 13 games (6-2-5) in Sunday’s shootout loss to Detroit, allowing two (non-shootout) goals or less in all but three of those contests.
“It’s been huge for us all year,” defenseman Ed Jovanovski said of the goaltending. “I said it in Montreal, I think Jose has been our MVP this year, and when Clemmy has the opportunity to come in, he’s played great for us. We’re going to need them on most nights to be our best players, and on most nights they have.”
Added forward Stephen Weiss after Sunday’s game: “We’ve definitely got to score. Our goalies are too good and playing too well for us not to be scoring some goals. We’re going to win a lot more games.”
Florida (37-25-17) hosts Winnipeg Tuesday night and a victory would clinch a spot in the postseason for the first time in 10 years, which is an NHL record. If that happens and Washington loses to Tampa Bay on Monday, the Panthers would also have their first division title in franchise history.
On the season, Florida has been in first place for 122 days, including 37 straight.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, this is the latest the Panthers have ever been in first place in their division, previously sitting in the top spot through 68 games on March 10, 2000.
Going into Monday, the Panthers hold a three-point lead over Washington in the Southeast Division with three games left.
Florida visits Washington on Thursday and doesn't own a tiebreaker against the Capitals.
“It’s always a big responsibility as a goalie, and the last month has been really important for everybody to really play their best hockey because if you look at the standings, it was really close and we were able to get some big points,” Theodore said.
“At this time of year, every save is big. You’re not going to win games 6-0 or 6-1, and right now every save could be early in the first period or the third, but every save is big because it’s going to be those 1-1, 2-1 games. As a goalie you have to make sure you make those key saves at the right time to give your team a chance to win, and that’s what we’ve been doing lately showing character and getting points.”
Last year as a member of the Minnesota Wild, Theodore said he and his teammates were out of contention with 10 to 15 games left in the season.
But GM Dale Tallon brought in new guys such as Theodore and Jovanovski over the offseason. Still, many didn’t forecast the Panthers to be in the position they find themselves in.
“We were and are on a mission since day one, and we’ve got one big week ahead of us,” Theodore said.
“You play the game to be in the playoffs, and this year was a good chance for a lot of players and me too to be part of something. Be a leader on this team, and a lot of guys stepped up. We didn’t clinch anything yet, we’re on the right track, obviously, and it feels good to be part of something.”
Sunday, April 1, 2012
The Panthers took another game into a shootout and the Red Wings ended up winning. Wolski was the first shooter again, and I saw him going to the end of the bench and trying to talk to José again before his shot. So I think he asked advice again, so I give José another assist, because he made it! He is 2-2 since asking José's advice.
The Panthers moved one point closer to a playoff spot. If they win and get 2 points against Winnipeg on Tuesday, then they will clinch a playoff spot!