Sunday, April 15, 2012

No room for excuses as Florida Panthers head into Game 2 against Devils

I thought there were some nice quotes by and about José in this Miami Herald article from today.

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.”

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