SUNRISE, Fla. --
Mums the word on who will start between the pipes for the Florida Panthers
in Game 7 against the New Jersey Devils
in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal on Thursday at BankAtlantic Center.
Well, sort of.
While head coach Kevin Dineen
offered his usual post-practice soliloquy regarding how confident he is with the play of both goalies, keep in mind that Jose Theodore
was manning the cage that the Panthers will defend in the first and third periods. He was also the first goalie off the ice, which is also a pretty good indication he'll get the nod as the Game 7 starter.
When Theodore is officially given the nod, it will be his second career Game 7.
"It's do or die," Theodore told reporters on Wednesday after practice. "These are the kind of games you want to be part of. I mean, everybody, when you’re a kid and you play hockey, you always imagine that it’s Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. So obviously it’s a game everybody wants to be part of and help the team win."
Said Dineen: "Jose has a tremendous amount of respect in this League and he's given us credibility and stability and deserves a start if he can go."
After posting his second career playoff shutout in Game 5, Theodore was suffering from a lower-body injury in Game 6 and was replaced in net by Scott Clemmensen
. Both Clemmensen and Jacob Markstrom
were taking turns at one end of the rink during Thursday's practice.
In addition to Theodore, the Panthers might also welcome offensive-defenseman Jason Garrison
back to the lineup. Garrison has been sidelined the last three games with a lower-body injury.
"It's tough watching regular season games from the stands, let alone playoffs," Garrison said after his team's morning skate on Thursday. "But I'm fortunate there's still a game left, so I'll try and contribute and help the team."
How confident is he that he'll start the game?
"I don't want to jinx myself, but it would take a whole lot," Garrison said.
Here is the probable Game 7 lineup for the Panthers:
- Stephen Weiss
- Kris Versteeg
- Marcel Goc
- Mikael Samuelsson
- Shawn Matthias
- Jerred Smithson
- John Madden
- Tomas Kopecky
- Brian Campbell
- Mike Weaver
- Erik Gudbranson