March 15, 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers goalie Jose Theodore (60) celebrates their 6-2 win over the Boston Bruins at the BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Florida Panther Review: Jose Theodore. Better Than You Expected

With the 2011-12 season sadly in the rear-view window, it’s once again time for The Rat Trick to take a look back at those who had the biggest impact on the the Florida Panthers. Over the coming days, we’ll look at review everyone who had key roles in the past season and give them the dreaded letter grade.

Today the spolight is on goaltender Jose Theodore.

Games played: 53

Record: 22-16-11

GAA: 2.46

Save Percentage: .917

Shutouts: 3

One of the biggest question marks for the Florida Panthers after the 2010-2011 season had ended was the position of goaltender.  Tomas Vokoun’s contract had run out, and there was concern that the Florida Panthers may not sign the veteran, or that Vokoun would want to test the open market.  The Panthers offered a multi year contract to Vokoun which was turned down.  Having to act fast, Dale Tallon quickly turned his sights on Jose Theodore, a veteran who was a backup in Minnesota the prior season after winning over 60 games in two seasons with the Washington Capitals.  Theodore was on the older side of 30 but still a player who had some games left in him, as well as something to prove to himself.  On July 1st of 2011, Theodore was signed to a two year contract for $1.5 million per season.  Theodore whom many thought had seen better days, was excited to come to Florida, and take the number one job that Vokoun held.

While many questioned the signing, Dale Tallon and Kevin Dineen were confident that Theo would be able to provide the consistent goaltending  expected of a number one netminder that the Panthers were looking for.  His preseason however left many people concerned that this may not have been the right move.  The final exhibition game at the Bank Atlantic Center saw Theo have an absolute horrible outing, causing concern among the Panther faithful.  His preseason was described later on by head coach Kevin Dineen as “stinky”.

However much like a pitcher in baseball, Theo would eventually find a groove.  His first game of the season on opening night against the New York Islanders gave everyone hope that he could be “the guy”, as he recorded a shutout making 27 saves in a convincing Panther victory.  Three nights later however the Pittsburgh Penguins scored four goals which may not have all been his fault, and the worry started again.  Four days after that at the home opener for the Florida Panthers, Theodore bounced back, and led the Panthers to victory, and he continued to do more of the same all season long.

Jose Theodore’s very best days might be behind him, and since he left the Montreal Canadiens, many have questioned him at times. Hhowever his first year here with the Panthers, Theodore eventually put the doubters to rest, as he posted some numbers that weren’t seen since the early days of his career.  On the few nights that he had a bad game, he normally followed those up with a solid performance the next night out.  He kept the Panthers games close, and when they needed a big save, he typically made them.  He’s not perfect, and no goaltender is, and as long as people weren’t expecting him to be unbeatable every night, he did more than a solid job.  The team played confidently with him in goal, and there was one thing about him that you also had to take notice of…..he was never rattled.

He had some games in which he provided some glorious saves.  Remember this stick save during a game against the Penguins:

Then there was this desperate glove save against the Carolina Hurricanes:

Finally, in keeping the Panthers playoff hopes alive he made this beauty against Adam Henrique of the Devils:

Final Grade: A-.  I believed in Jose Theodore from day one regardless of his pre season showings.  Night after night the veteran gave us exactly what we needed.  I never felt nervous with him in goal, and knew deep down that if he did what he was supposed to do, and the players in front of him did what they were supposed to do, the Florida Panthers had a pretty good chance of winning.  He quickly became a fan favourite, and based on his comments after game seven of the playoffs we can expect him to deliver another solid season next year.

Admit it.  He was better than you expected.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

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Tags: Dale Tallon Florida Panthers Jose Theodore Kevin Dineen Theodore Stops Adam Henrique Tomas Vokoun

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