SUNRISE, Fla. —
Florida coach Kevin Dineen
often said this year he was facing tough goalie decisions, but he might now be dealing with his toughest yet.
Dineen said after the morning skate he had not decided whether Jose Theodore
or Scott Clemmensen
would be in net for the regular-season finale Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes
. He also said he hadn’t determined who would start in the playoffs.
Theodore has been Florida’s No. 1 goalie all season, appearing in 59 games to Clemmensen’s 23.
But Theodore is coming off a shaky performance in a 4-2 loss Thursday at Washington. Dineen pulled Theodore after the Capitals scored in the second period to go up 3-0, but reinserted him 91 seconds later.
Clemmensen, meanwhile, has been outstanding lately. He is 2-0-1 in his last three starts, including a 35-save performance in a 2-1 victory at Philadelphia on March 20.
There’s also this factor this consider: If the Panthers clinch the Southeast Division title Saturday, they will face the New Jersey Devils
in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. In five career games against the Devils, his former team, Clemmensen is 4-0-0 with a 2.05 GAA and a .937 save percentage, including a 3-1 victory at New Jersey this season. Theodore is 8-14-3 in his career against the Devils with a 2.64 GAA and a .907 save percentage.
The combination of factors coming into play has left Dineen with that difficult decision.
“It sure is,” Dineen said. “It’s one that we’ll discuss quite a bit before we make the final call for tonight and next week.”
At the other end of the ice Saturday, the Carolina goalie will be Brian Boucher
, who has appeared in only nine games this season as the backup to Cam Ward
The Hurricanes lineup against Florida also will feature forward Jeremy Welsh
, who will make his NHL debut after signing a one-year contract Thursday night after Union lost to Ferris State in the NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa.
Here are the projected lineups for the Panthers-Hurricanes matchup:
- Eric Staal
- Chad LaRose
- Jeff Skinner
- Tuomo Ruutu
- Brandon Sutter
- Patrick Dwyer
- Tim Brent
- Anthony Stewart
- Justin Faulk
- Jamie McBain
- Tim Gleason
- Stephen Weiss
- Kris Versteeg
- Marcel Goc
- Mikael Samuelsson
- Shawn Matthias
- Wojtek Wolski
- John Madden
- Tomas Kopecky
- Brian Campbell
- Mike Weaver
- Erik Gudbranson