March 13, 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers goalie Jose Theodore (center) celebrates with teammates after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 at the BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Jose Theodore Is Hot, Hot, Hot

Jose Theodore is hot, and not necessarily in the way my sister thinks he’s hot.

Over the past few games, the veteran goaltender has been playing out of his mind, and unsurprisingly the Panthers have been picking up points as a result of Theodore’s streak.  And just look at the stats!

  • Jose Theodore earned his 20th win of the season last night and moved to 2-0-1 in his last three games, stopping 93 of 96 shots (.969 SV%).
  • He’s allowed two goals or less in 10 of his 13 appearances since returning from a four-game absence (knee) on Feb. 12 and is 5-2-1 in his last eight games.
  • This season, Jose Theodore earned all four wins against the Toronto Maple Leafs, saving 121 saves on 130 shots (.931 SV%).

And when you examine Theodore’s presence in net recently, these stats shouldn’t come as a shock.  His reflexes have been tremendous, his positioning has been great, and the effort most certainly has been there.  Consider the save he made in the Carolina Hurricanes game Sunday night, when he made a great save on a breakaway then immediately sprawled behind towards the post to make a diving glove save on a rebound opportunity.  Of course, that game would be one of Theodore’s best in a Panther jersey, as he shut out the Hurricanes in a 2-0 victory.  Without that save, the game certainly could have ended differently.

But as good as Theodore has been, I can’t count out how lucky Theodore has been on a couple of chances.  In the game against the Leafs last night, a battle in front of the net led to the puck being squirted past Theodore on his right side.  Fortunately for him, the puck squirted just wide, only by inches.  In another case against the Penguins, Theodore faced a breakaway against Tyler Kennedy.  The usually sure-handed scorer shot the puck high over the net.  Surely Jose breathed a sigh of relief after seeing that puck get launched well over his shoulders.

But it would be unfair to put all of the glory upon Jose.  The Panthers’ defensemen have played great since they fell apart in games against the Winnipeg Jets and Philadelphia Flyers.  Pucks are being cleared from the front of the net; fewer skaters are walking in on net; and the physicality is up.  After game after when goalies were left out to dry and pucks kept finding the back of the net, the Panthers’ skill on the blue line is showing.  It was a bit of a mystery why the Panthers’ defense ever disappear like it did in those games against the Flyers and Jets, but I’m willing to forget those disasters is they play solidly for the rest of the season.

But of course, all of these hreat performances recently would be for naught if the Panthers couldn’t do anything on the other side of the ice.  Fortunately, that hasn’t been a problem as of late.  The offense has been decent enough for the Panthers to earn wins, and they’ve been capitalizing on chances more than they have in the past.  Remember that string of games where Tomas Fleischmann hit post after post?  He finally found the twine against Carolina.  And remember when we couldn’t get any offense from our second and third lines?  Five different Panthers not named Weiss, Fleischmann, and Versteeg had two points against the Leafs.  More and more I see that the Panthers’ offense could finally round out after months of inconsistency.

Overall, these past three games have been some of the best the Panthers have played this year.  And things begin and end in net, so mostly thank Mr. Theodore.

Thanks for reading!  Comment please!

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