In part one of this two part series featuring Jacob Markstrom, we discussed his play in past seasons, and mentioned his expectations for this year, as we keep in mind how he has played so far to this point. To no surprise, Markstrom has not suited up for a game since our last article, but it is understandable based on the play of goaltenders Jose Theodore, and a now healthy, Scott Clemmensen.
Still many are curious about the performance of the fan favourite goaltender of the future, and will his performance lead to a full time roster spot on the Florida Panthers at some point this season. The reality is, despite his numbers, all but two of Markstrom’s games should actually be victories when we break them down and look at them.
Oct 18th, Markstrom saw his first game of the season, his first as a Panther, which resulted in a loss. But, Jacob made 29 saves on 31 shots, doing everything he could to keep his team in the game. And to be honest, the team in front of him on that night could have played slightly better to support the young netminders effort. It was the first game against former netminder Tomas Vokoun, and nobody knew what to expect. Additionally, we were coming off a 7-4 victory the night before against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and only managed 20 shots, of which a mere 2 on net in the first period alone. Therefore, Markstrom was in for a long night against the high powered Washington Capitals.
October 22nd would mark the second start of the season for Markstrom after the club suffered its second straight 3-0 loss on the 20th against the Buffalo Sabres. Jose Theodore started that game, and left during the second intermission with the game tied at 2 against the New York Islanders. Jacob entered determined to get the win; he made 18 saves in a hectic third period, to be credited with the victory, and the shutout.
October 24th thanks to an impressive showing in his previous game, Markstrom was rewarded by being starting the next game against the Montreal Canadiens. Again, he would put on a show between the pipes as he made a whopping 40 saves on 41 shots in only his third game at the NHL level, and his team provided very little, but just enough offense for the 2-1 victory.
October 27th after turning heads in the previous two games, the Cats looked to their phenom goaltender again the following game against the Ottawa Senators. Unfortunately, just like every great netminder, he was having an off night. The contest itself was a great one to watch for any fan, built with goals and great suspense. Florida found themselves in a see-saw goal for goal game. With just under a minute to go, trailing 3-2, Kris Versteeg found the back of the net, tying up the contest, as it appeared to be headed to overtime. But, things turned ugly for Florida, as Ottawa won the faceoff, broke into the zone, and Senators forward, Nick Foligno squeaked a softy past Markstrom with 4-seconds left in the game for the victory.
November 3rd after an upsetting performance in his last game, the club turned to Jose Theodore in their next two games, but would once again give Markstrom a chance against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Panthers performed well against the Hawks’ highly skilled forwards. After falling behind 2-0 Markstrom kept his team in the game as they managed to tie it up, thanks to a goal by Ed Jovanovski with just over 2-minutes remaining in regulation. After overtime solved nothing, the game headed to a shootout, the first of Jacob’s NHL career. After stopping the shootout master Jonathan Toews, Markstrom then stopped Dave Bolland in round two, before the crafty Patrick Kane scored on the third and final shot of the shootout. All 3-Panthers were denied by Cory Crawford.
Jacob Markstrom would not see any more action following the loss and on November 7th he was sent down to the minors as Scott Clemmensen returned from injury, and was ready to go. But, he would get another opportunity as Clemmensen once again went down to injury, so he was recalled November 19th.
November 26th Jose Theodore played the first part of the home-and-home series against the Lightning which resulted in a loss in overtime thanks to a rocket by Steven Stamkos on the powerplay. The following night the club turned to Markstrom giving him the chance to get the club back in the win column after having their 3-game win streak snapped. But, unfortunately he would put in a dismal performance; in fact, the whole team club would as they lost by a score of 5-1.
Two days later, following the loss, Markstrom was sent to San Antonio once again to join the Rampage, and would not see any more NHL action up to date.
As we follow the path of the young goaltender we can see, the losses were not totally his fault, from difficult teams he faced, to his own club being tired. Yes, in the loss to the Lightning ihe allowed 5 goals. The loss to Ottawa is questionable as he left a softy in, but the reality is, he was placed in some difficult situations. He has not faced less than 31 shots in all 5 games of which he has started.
If you factor out the Tampa, and Ottawa game, the club has only scored 3 goals, in 5 games which he played in, and if you ask me, this makes it impossible for a goaltender to win. 40 saves in Montreal, and the team wins 2-1, puts all the pressure on your goaltender. Fortunately Markstrom played the best game of the season for any Panthers goaltender at that point, and one slip up could have resulted in a loss. He is forced to enter games with the mentality he HAS to stop every puck, or he may not win, something difficult for any rookie goaltender to face.
Many people ask if San Antonio is the right place for him to be, and the answer is clear, it is right where he should be. Jose Theodore is playing great, so there is no need to give him the yank, and as the saying goes, “Don’t fix what isn’t broke.” Also, rather than have him sit on the bench as a backup in the NHL, give him the major minutes in the AHL. He will learn and grow as a goaltender by playing on a team going through a rough patch, he will know how to handle tough situations once he becomes starter of our franchise. Give him just one more year in the minors, and he will be ready to reach the potential that he’s destined for.
Thake a look at his number so far this year. He is 2-3-1 on the season, but look past his record. He has a 2.59 GAA, and a .928 save percentage, two immaculate numbers especially for a rookie netminder. So, there you have it, there is nothing wrong with Jacob Markstrom, he is playing fantastic, he just needs to be in games where he can build confidence, and have his team play better in front of him so he can prove to them just how good he really is.
Thanks for reading.