After spending his career as a backup netminder, Florida Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen is beginning to shows signs that he may finally be ready to step into the spotlight.
Clemmensen was signed on July 7th 2009 to a three-year contract as a backup to then starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun. Clemmensen had previously spent his time in New Jersey doing what he did best – filling in for Devils star netminder Martin Brodeur. Clemmensen played 23 games during the 2009-2010season for the Panthers posting a 9-8-2 record.
The following year, Clemmensen was forced to appear in more games for the Cats due to several injuries to Tomas Vokoun, but with the extra opportunity come a decline in Clemmensen’s numbers as he posted a dismal 8-11-7 record in 31 contests.
On July 1st 2011, Tomas Vokoun decided to test the free agent waters, eventually signing with division rivals Washington Capitals for a 1-year deal. In turn, the Panthers signed former Capitals netminder, Jose Theodore.
Theodore and Clemmensen would fight it out during pre-season play to determine who would be starter – despite it being pretty clear that Theodore would get the nod. By the end of the pre-season, after having a slightly better performance Clemmensen would unfortunately once again see himself as a backup sitting on the bench by the time the regular season rolled around.
Clemmensen would again have to sit patiently on the bench and wait for his time to shine; his time to come into the game and really prove that this was his season to impress everyone. Due to untimely injuries to Theodore, Clemmensen would get a few extra chances to start games; a great chance to impress the coaching staff, and impress he did.
In 20 games with the Panthers this season, Clemmensen has posted a 10-4-5 record with a .913 Save Percentage and 2.62 Goals Against Average. His great play has even gone as far as having a healthy Theodore sit out Thursday night against the Los Angeles Kings, and again on Saturday versus a very tough New Jersey Devils club.
Many times before in the NHL have we seen goaltenders step up and take starting positions away from one another. For instance in 2006 when Hall of Fame goaltender, Ed Belfour who was then 41, was signed to start games behind Alex Auld ended up taking away the starting position after Auld himself played a terrible October and November.
While I am not saying that Clemmensen is playing so well that he could possibly take away the starting job from Theodore, it is pretty clear that thanks to hot play as of late, Jose definitely feels Clemmensen nipping at his heals, ready to capitalize on any chance he is given.
Also, while this may not yet be what you refer to as a goaltender dilemma, there is certainly nothing wrong with the Panthers having the option of turning to two hot goaltenders when need be for big wins down the stretch.
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