Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Panthers goalie controversy brewing

Those are the words of Harvey Fialkov of The Sun Sentinel, not me.

And as a fan, what Dineen said here (there are some plays over the course of the season that I’d like to see him make some saves for us) really irritates me. I guess he expects perfection, even if the team in front of his goalie isn't.

Here's the blog:

January 31st, 2012 | 2:56 PM

CORAL SPRINGS On the day before arguably their most important game of the 2011-12 season against the Washington Capitals, the Panthers may be on the brink of their first goalie controversy of the year.

While Panthers coach Kevin Dineen verbally quashed that notion by firmly stating that Jose Theodore is his starter, his actions prior to the All-Star break spoke otherwise when he started Scott Clemmensen against the Philadelphia Flyers over a rested, uninjured Theodore.

“You always start looking at the immediate games in Colorado and Chicago,’’ said Dineen when asked to assess Theodore’s season. “They were disappointing to all of us. When you look at the big picture he’s had a real positive effect on our lineup. He’s been a guy whose won some games for us. That’s what you need out of your goaltenders.

“Saying that, there are some plays over the course of the season that I’d like to see him make some saves for us.’’

Theodore, 35, is 14-9-5 with a 2.50 goals-against-average, which is one shy of his victory total last season with Minnesota and his best GAA since 2007-08. However, since sustaining a minor knee injury on New Year’s Eve against the Canadiens, Theodore sat out the next 18 days before losing 4-3 in overtime to Colorado and 3-1 to the Blackhawks.

“We knew down the stretch you need two goalies to be good,’’ said Theodore, who admitted he’s rarely 100 percent healthy. “Clemmensen’s playing great now. We had a good break to refocus for the last stretch.’’

Clemmensen, 34, who has notched at least a point in 11 of his 13 decisions (6-2-5), played the final two games before the break, earning a 4-3 shootout win over Winnipeg before losing in a 3-2 shootout versus Philadelphia.

“Any time you’re given an opportunity to play you’ve got to make the most of it,’’ said Clemmensen, who has started six of the previous nine games while going 2-2-2. “Right before the break I was playing quite a bit. That goes to show that my belief in [Dineen] and his belief in me are justified.’’

Dineen reiterated that Theodore is his No. 1 guy, but …

“I’m looking to win every game I can and [goaltender coach Robb Tallas] and I talk every day to try to build a consensus and decision who’s going to get the net,’’ he said. “Sometimes that’s a very easy decision to make. Other times, it’s a challenge.

“Jose Theodore is our starter. We can’t have success down the stretch without Jose playing good hockey.’’

Monday, January 30, 2012

Panthers Back on the Ice Today

All-Star Break is over! The Panthers had a late afternoon practice. They will play the Capitals on Wednesday night, and the winner will hold sole possession of the #1 spot in the Southeast. Big game!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Recent photos of José wearing his new mask

From January 20 against Chicago

From January 21 in Winnipeg

And before the January 24th game against Philadelphia

Fan Photos from the January 14, 2012 community practice at Kendall

Fellow Panthers fan, Ernie Alvarez, shared his photos of José from the January 14th community practice at Kendall. Thanks so much, Ernie! Great photos!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Leadership is praised for Florida Panthers’ turnaround

By George Richards of The Miami Herald

NHL observers at the All-Star Game credited GM Dale Tallon and coach Kevin Dineen for the Panthers’ strong showing this season.

OTTAWA -- Picked to finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference before the season started by most experts, the Panthers are not only in the hunt for a playoff spot, but also a division championship as well.

The Panthers went into the All-Star break with 55 points — tied with Washington for the Southeast Division lead and seventh overall in the conference. There are 34 games left. Surprised?

“I am not surprised at all,’’ said Pierre McGuire of NBC Sports. “Breaking down what [GM] Dale Tallon had done by bringing in a veteran presence and stability in goal with Jose Theodore, I’m not surprised with what Florida has done. I am a little surprised at where Washington is right now.

“[Coach] Kevin Dineen has made a huge difference, as has [assistants] Craig Ramsay and Gord Murphy. And of course, Dale Tallon, as well. That team was crying out for leadership and direction. Look at what it has done for them.’’

When the All-Star break ends, the Panthers could be in make-or-break mode as All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell put it on Friday. Florida opens with four divisional opponents — including two against Washington. The Capitals visit Sunrise in the first game after the break on Wednesday.

Defenseman Dennis Wideman was part of the Panthers’ salary purge at the trade deadline last February, being sent to the Capitals. An All-Star selection this season, Wideman knows it could be Florida keeping Washington from its fifth consecutive division title.

“They signed a lot of good players in the offseason, so when things started, I looked at them as a contender, a playoff team,’’ Wideman said. “... We have a lot of games down the stretch against the Panthers. These four point games are getting to be important.’’

Both Dave Strader and Kevin Weekes have history with the Panthers organization and have paid attention to what Florida has done this season. Strader, Florida’s TV voice from 2005-07, credits Tallon’s sweeping changes as the reason for the early success.

“I honestly thought Florida would be the surprise team in the Eastern Conference,’’ said Strader, now with NBC. “It was such a terrific makeover of the roster, although you never know how a team will gel. But they have. I watch as many of their games as I can, and it’s great to see how the market has embraced what the team has done.’’

Weekes, Florida’s backup goalie in 1997-98 after being an original draft pick in 1993, gave credit to Dineen and Tallon for changing not only a losing atmosphere but also bringing the fun back into the locker room. The Panthers, led by newcomers Kris Versteeg and Campbell, are a much looser bunch than in years past.

“I like that Dale Tallon thinks outside of the box, so he didn’t just take players based on predisposed notions,’’ said Weekes, who works for the NHL Network. “... And I played against Kevin Dineen and think he has a great approach to the game, and it has rubbed off. They are in position to succeed now.

“It’s very upbeat in Florida right now. Guys love coming to the rink, but know they have to work. It’s still a game. You have to work, but it should be fun being an NHL player. I think you see that with the Panthers now.’’

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gameday, Panthers vs. Flyers, 7:30 EST (Clemmensen in net)

The Panthers lost in a shootout, final score was 2-3.

It's good that they have a week off now. That way if José's knee is at all sore, it will have time to heal.

I'll keep you updated if anything comes up over the All Star Break!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gameday, Panthers @ Blackhawks (L, 1-3)

After one period, the Blackhawks lead 2-0. José faced 8 shots. One goal was a breakaway by Toews, the other he was totally screened.

And the Panthers can't get much offense going. It's not looking promising. But I'm keeping the faith.

That was not a very impressive showing by the Panthers.

José faced 22 shots on goal. He had moments where he looked really sharp. I'm just really getting tired of the defense of the Panthers. They're rather lacking in my mind, and are no good at clearing the crease. It's frustrating.

Still lots of hockey to be played.

They play in Winnipeg tomorrow night. Clemmensen will probably get the start.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jose Theodore: South Florida is Final Destination

From George Richards' On Frozen Pond:

Speaking of being at home, goalie Jose Theodore was joking with a reporter from the Denver Post Thursday when he declared “Florida is my last stop.''

Theodore, who has played for the Canadiens, Avs, Capitals and Wild, made it clear he isn't thinking about retirement.

“I didn't say this would be my last contract,'' he said.

Theodore is signed through next season. Theodore made 40 saves in Wednesday's loss to the Avs.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gameday, Panthers @ Avalanche, 3-4, OT

Nice little quote today from Semyon Varlamov about José:

“He was my best friend in Washington. It was tough…when he played well all season and in second game coach puts the young guy out on ice. He was very professional and helped me in the playoffs."

After José's first period after 18 days, the Panthers are leading 1-0. He faced 9 shots on goal and looked sharp.

He is wearing the new TikiGargoyle Mask. Here's the back of his mask...waiting for a better photo.

Sorry I disappeared for a while. This was a painful one. They were leading 3-1 going into the 3rd, but ended up losing 3-4 in OT. The Panthers had so many opportunities to put it away and didn't. Including a 4 minute PP in the 3rd. Ouch. José was quite solid tonight. First game back after 18 days and stopped 40 of 44. You could see his frustration though...he slammed his stick a couple times at the end. It was painful to see his disappointment. Here's hoping for something better on Friday.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Official Photos of José's New Tiki Mask

Artist David Gunnarsson released official photos of José's new mask today. Here's what he had to say:

Burning TikiGargoyles on Theodore´s mask

We have the honor to present the Florida Panthers goalie Jose Theodore´s new mask. I love so much to work with Jose, he just like me loves a lot of details on the masks. :)

On this mask it is time for Gargoyles again, I love to paint gargoyles. Jose wanted it in a new unique way with a cool connection to Florida. Karl in my team came up with the idea of Tiki, I made some sketches were I mixed Tikis and Gargoyles, and the design idea was born. Jose loved the sketches and I started the adventure to paint it.

The Burning TikiGargoyles are sitting on each side of the Florida beach in their sand castles, guarding the net. Around this I created a totally action packed Florida design with so many Florida details to discover all over the mask. I love to spend a lot of time just painting details and go crazy on details, and play with metallic effects. Lots of the stuff you can only see when you see the mask live. I remember when I was a kid and watched the TV series Miami Vice, in the intro there were flamingos, so I really wanted that in the design... :)

On the chin the mask is transformed into a Tiki Gargoyle mask, turning Jose into one when he put it on his head.

Gameday, Panthers vs. Bruins (José will not dress)

Better safe than sorry, I'm just really sad that they don't feel he's ready. Hopefully soon. They go on a 3-game road trip after tonight, first game being in Colorado on Wednesday. I wonder if he'll travel...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Will José Start Tomorrow Against Boston?

Edited with Richards' "rethink."

Coach Dineen and José wouldn't commit as to whether he'd be starting tomorrow against Boston. This from George Richards of The Miami Herald:

And this from Harvey Fialkov of The Sun Sentinel:
Theodore itching to return

Theodore, who has missed the last four games with a knee injury, is itching to play against the Bruins, especially after they knocked him out of the net with four goals in 20 minutes of an embarrassing 8-0 defeat on Dec. 23.

“It’s always fun to play the Stanley Cup champions,’’ said Theodore, who earlier this season notched a shutout against Boston. “Last game they gave us a pretty good spanking, so obviously, it would be good to get back [at them].’’