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Could Florida’s playoff starter be…Scott Clemmensen?

Apr 8, 2012, 10:07 PM EDT

Scott Clemmensen Getty Images

Following Florida’s 4-1 defeat of Carolina on Saturday — clinching the first-ever Southeast Division title in franchise history — Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen had some interesting things to say about his goaltending.

Most interesting? He doesn’t know who his Game 1 playoff starter will be.

After backup Scott Clemmensen stopped 34 of 35 shots against the ‘Canes, Dineen said it’s going to be tough to decide who will start Florida’s first-round playoff matchup against New Jersey — Clemmensen or Jose Theodore.

“Clem made a real statement with his game tonight, as well as in the last month,” Dineen told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Those two have made it a very tough decision to see who’s going to get the start in Game 1.”

More, from the Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov:

At 34, Clemmensen played a huge role in the Panthers’ success this season, going 14-6-6, or earning points in 20 of 26 decisions, with a 2.57 GAA. When Theodore was in and out of the lineup with a knee injury from Jan. 5 to Feb. 11, Clemmensen stepped in and went 7-3-3.

“It’s always special when you play your ex-team and not in a negative fashion. I don’t care [who starts],” said Clemmensen, who is 3-0-1 with a .962 save percentage in his last four starts.

“It’s always special “Whether it’s Jose in there I’m rooting for him because I want everyone on this team to win, so regardless if it’s him or me I’m going to be ready to play and be on my best game.”you play your ex-team and not in a negative fashion.

The narrative of Clemmensen facing his former Devils mates has not been lost on the Panthers. Clemmensen had been the backup in New Jersey until 2008-09, when Martin Brodeur went down with an injury. That opened the door for a temporary starting gig and Clemmensen didn’t look back, posting a 25-13-1 record with a 2.39 goals-against-average, which was good enough to earn a $3.6 million, three-year free-agent deal with the Panthers.

“Most people might be surprised, but I’m not, to be quite honest with you,” said Panthers center John Madden, who played with Clemmensen in New Jersey. “I remember when Marty [Brodeur] went down [in 2008-09] and he came in for three-quarters of the season and he won 30-something games for us.

“He was unbelievable back then.”

Which begs the question: Can Clemmensen be unbelievable now?

  1. letangusespertplus - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    18 OTLs. Disgusting that this team is allowed in the post season. Let alone win their division.

    • mehetmet - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:05 PM

      if they don’t deserve to be there, then they will get knocked out right away. We shall see what happens. If they get far, then obviously that proves that they do in fact deserve to be there.

    • swissdude - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:21 PM

      You are a moron, it’s really just simple math. Go Cats!!

      • letangusespertplus - Apr 9, 2012 at 5:35 PM

        Yeah it is simple math. In sports you don’t get points for participating. OTL is still a L.

  2. tonyseesred - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    Actually, i believe it was 5 OTL’s and 13 SO losses. It is no secret or new news that the makeup of this team is not based on high individual skill. They are a high character team that play a very tough brand of hockey as a TEAM. a deep one with a lot of playoff experience and rings. Similar to plenty of teams that have done very well in the playoffs in previous years. Give them a break. They compete every night and have grinded out a lot of games past regulation. EARNED those points. should make for exciting 5 on 5 overtime games in the playoffs. I love that they are the underdog, look where it got them so far. They earned that Division and have held it for over 2/3 of the season. Cant wait to see what happens in the first round. Was a great season series that the panthers won by the way. 2-2-1. ;) Love Clemmenson. He’s got the hot hand. Give him the start!

  3. dolphincult - Apr 8, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    I met Coach Dineen this past summer prior to him getting the panthers gig and came away very impressed. But did I think he could motivate this undertalented team to the NHL playoffs and a division title? Lol, not. But I gotta tip my hat, it will be interesting to see if they can do any damage and what the team will look like with another year of shrewd management and balls out coaching

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