Jacob Markstrom, the Florida Panther’s highly touted goaltending prospect, was called up by the Panthers Wednesday February 20th. With the abysmal play of the Panthers goalies this season, Markstrom will be expected to help turn the tide. The Panthers have allowed 56 goals, 14th in the Eastern Conference. Jose Theodore has a 3.37 GAA and backup Scott Clemmensen has a GAA of 4.32. Markstrom meanwhile has been playing well with the San Antonio Rampage in the American Hockey League giving up two or less goals in 11 of his last 16 games. (Source)
The Panthers originally had planned to keep Markstrom in the AHL this season to allow time to develop. Poor goaltending at the NHL level has forced the hand of GM Dale Tallon and this means we will get a chance to see what the future holds earlier than expected. Tallon explained the call up by saying its about time the team got a good look at what Markstrom can do, “We have got to start putting him in the system and see if he can play some games and get some experience for him and we also have to stem the tide”. (source)
I for one am ecstatic. I have harped on the Panther’s goalies all season and while they are not directly responsible for many of the Panther losses, they do play a large role in them. Last game, FS Florida put up a stat that the Panthers are 2-0-2 when scoring five or more goals. The only other team to have lost any games when scoring five were the St. Louis Blues. If you are scoring five goals and losing then something is seriously wrong with either your defense or goaltending, hopefully Markstrom can help change that.
Markstrom made a strong impression on Panther fans last year when he stopped 40 of 41 shots faced in Montreal, leading the Panthers to a 2-1 victory. Along with those game that show us glimpses of Markstrom’s immense potential, I would expect we will also see growing pains games where Markstrom struggles, but either way it will be an exciting ride.