March 23 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers goalie Jose Theodore (60) makes a save during the third period against the Edmonton Oilers at the BankAtlantic Center. Edmonton Oilers won 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Panthers Goalies Holding Their Own As Of Late

Mar 27, 2012; Montreal, QC, CAN; Montreal Canadiens center Louis Leblanc (71) misses a chance to score a goal against Florida Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen (30) during the second period at the Bell Center. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-US PRESSWIRE

In the beginning of the 2011-2012 season not a lot of people were expecting the Florida Panthers to make a run at the playoffs or even a division title. With only six regular season games left, the team is in a good position to silence all the critics that doubted them throughout the season.  With great play from the wingers, centers, and defensemen during the season, the coach Kevin Dineen needed to make sure he was getting the same quality play from goalies Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen. With a lot of pressure on the goalies, the two have played much better than they were expected to.

Scott Clemmensen who has had an up and down career bouncing back and forth between the AHL and NHL, has seemed to finally found his grove here in South Florida. Being drafted late in the 1997 NHL draft by the New Jersey Devils, Clemmensen had to overcome many obstacles to make it to the NHL. However the Boston College grad was well up to the challenge.  After graduating in 2001, Scott made his NHL debut for the New Jersey Devils during the 2001-2002 season. His stint with the Devils didn’t last long as they quickly sent him back to the Albany River Rats, which is the Devils AHL affiliate. After an up and down career with New Jersey, in which Clemmensen saw very little action, the Devils decided to go in another direction, signing goaltender Kevin Weekes to serve as Martin Brodeur’s backup. No longer being wanted in New Jersey, Clemmensen took his talents north of the border, signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs. During his tenure in Toronto, Clemmensen only played in 13 games for the Leafs, spending most of his time with the Toronto Marlies, which is the Maple Leafs AHL team. The following season Scott returned to New Jersey signing a one-year deal with the team. Although he started off the season with the Devils new AHL team, the Lowell Devils, Devils starting goaltender Martin Brodeur suffered a major injury. As a result, Clemmensen got the call back up to the Devils to serve as Weekes’ backup. Weekes struggled as the starting goaltender which gave Scott the opportunity to take over the starting spot and make a difference and he did just that.  In the 40 games that he played, he won 25 of them and had an incredible GAA (goals against average) at 2.39. After the season ended Clemmensen decided to go somewhere else with his career. On July 1st, 2009 the Florida Panthers and Scott Clemmensen agreed to terms on a contract.


Jose Theodore’s story is a little different. Jose played major junior hockey in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). There he won the Presidents Cup and he also competed for the Memorial Trophy in 1995 with the Hull Olympiques. While in the QMJHL he also won the Ford Cup which is presented to the best defensive player in the league. With the 44th pick in the 94 draft, the Montreal Canadiens decided to draft Theodore. Theodore spent his first few seasons with the Canadiens and their AHL team, the Fredericton Canadiens. Theodore finally got what he wanted during the 1999 season; he became a full time player in the NHL. In the 2000-2001 season Jose became a full time starter for the Canadiens. The following season he emerged as not only one of the elite goalies in the NHL, but also around the world. In 2002, Jose put on a performance that was good enough to win him the Vezina Trophy which is awarded annually to the best goaltender in the league, and the Hart Memorial Trophy which is given annually to the player who is most valuable to their team. His success didn’t last long however, the very following season Jose saw a severe drop in his numbers. Although he had a rough season, Jose’s confidence was not rattled. The very following season he brought his numbers back up to what they were and as a result he earned a spot in the 2004 All-Star game. What took place following the season severely impacted Jose’s future. The NHL had a lockout. As a result of the lockout, Jose decided to play for Djurgarden in Sweden. The NHL returned the following season, however Theodore wasn’t the same. His numbers dropped tremendously again and because of his lack of good play, he lost his job to his backup Cristobal Huet. The Canadiens decided that they were no longer interested in Theodore’s services and on March 8th, 2006 the Canadiens dealt Theo to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for goaltender David Aebischer. However after an unsuccessful term with the Avalanche he parted ways with the team and signed a two year contract with the Capitals. In his first year with Washington he helped the team earn their 7th division title and the second seed in the east. The very next season was just as good as his first one. Theodore pulled off an impressive performance as he had a 30-7-7 record. However Jose was unsuccessful in the playoffs as he lost his job to backup Semyon Varlamov. Despite a horrendous postseason, Theodore won the Bill Masterson Trophy. The trophy is presented to the player with the most perseverance and sportsmanship throughout the season. Following the season Theo signed a one year contract with the Minnesota Wild. Theodore split time throughout the season with star goalie Niklas Backstrom. Despite having an average season, Theo did not return with the Wild the following season. In July of 2011, Theodore signed a two year contract with the Florida Panthers.

These two goalies have experienced different path to get to where they are at in their careers today. Despite their differences the two goalies have a couple similarities. Both Scott Clemmensen and Jose Theodore seem to have revamped their professional careers here in South Florida. The two goalies also have been extremely clutch down the road towards the playoffs. With Theodore being one of the hottest goalies in the National Hockey League the past month the Panthers have been able to maintain their slim lead against the Capitals. Theodore can’t do all the work by himself though. When he is in need of a rest, the Panthers turn to one of the hottest backup goalies in the league. These two players have been a huge part of the team’s success as of late. Despite the teams recent scoring troubles, the two have helped keep the team right where they want to be, first place. With the playoffs quickly approaching these two guys need to keep up their spectacular play in order for the team to make some noise in the playoffs. And with the run these two have been having, I expect them to keep up the good work as the Panthers crawl their way to the ultimate goal, Lord Stanley’s Cup.

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