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Clemmensen used to seeing Brodeur, but not from visiting net

Friday, 12.11.2009 / 2:23 PM / NHL Insider

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Florida Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen knows it's only a matter of time before Martin Brodeur establishes the new career shutout record. He just hopes it isn't Friday night at Prudential Center, when he's in the opposite net as he opposes Brodeur and his former teammates for the first time as a Panther.

Clemmensen is the only goalie other than Brodeur to win 25 games in a season for the New Jersey Devils.

"I'm excited about playing back here in front of these fans and I think it'll be fun," Clemmensen said following the Panthers' morning practice. "It'll be weird to be playing against (the Devils) for sure. I've been associated with (them) for such a long time -- it becomes a part of you and I'll carry those memories with me no matter where I go, I think."

Florida coach Peter DeBoer, whose team will look to snap a four-game losing streak (0-2-2), admitted Clemmensen would have started one of the team's two back-to-back games (in New Jersey and Pittsburgh) this weekend, anyway. So why not make it against his former club?

"We're playing a tough stretch of games here where we're going to need both goaltenders to play (with Tomas Vokoun), and we've thrown (Clemmensen) into tough spots this year, like in Detroit (Nov. 20) and he's responded well," DeBoer said. "We hope he does the same against New Jersey."

Clemmensen stopped 39 shots against the Red Wings in a 2-1 overtime victory. For the season, he's 4-3-0 with a 4.01 goals-against average and .880 save percentage.

"It isn't the start I hoped for with the team, but I feel good about my game," Clemmensen said. "Wins, losses and stats aside, I feel good about my game and that's the most important thing for a goalie."

Clemmensen was 25-13-1 in place of an injured Brodeur during the 2008-09 season. He established career highs as Brodeur's understudy for games played (40), minutes (2,356) and wins in his fifth NHL season while registering a 2.39 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and two shutouts.

"It'll be a little different (facing Clemmensen), that's for sure," Devils defenseman Colin White said. "I've played a long time with Scotty and obviously he had a great year for us last season. He was a big part of our success."

"I guess it'll be interesting," Brodeur said. "He's been playing a little bit. It's the same situation he had here. For him, it'll be nice to get a start, especially against us. He really timed it right last year and did his job well. He gave us a chance to win every game he was in."

So impressive was Clemmensen that his stock sky-rocketed during the offseason, and he signed a three-year contract with the Panthers in July.

He admits being more excited than nervous entering Friday's game.

"I don't think I'm any more nervous now than I was for any other game because it's so hard and challenging to play in this League," Clemmensen said. "You want to play well every night and those nerves are going to be there every game -- they've been for me and that's a good thing. I don't think nerves factor in. You just want to do well back in this building in front of these fans and old teammates. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a little extra excitement involved."

"You want to play well every night and those nerves are going to be there every game -- they've been for me and that's a good thing. I don't think nerves factor in. You just want to do well back in this building in front of these fans and old teammates. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a little extra excitement involved." -- Scott Clemmensen

Clemmensen said he hasn't spoken to Brodeur this season, but has kept in touch with other former teammates, such as defenseman Mike Mottau, who attended Boston College with Clemmensen in the late '90s.

Said DeBoer, "Scotty is kind of a laid-back guy, so he's not going to do jumping jacks with any news, but you can tell he's excited about coming back here. It's his old team and hopefully that excitement translates into a good game. We're going to need it."

"Marty is a threat to get a shutout every night but I just hope it isn't tonight against me," Clemmensen said with a smile.

He admitted not being at all surprised with how consistent the Devils have been despite their rash of injuries. The Devils, who have won nine of their last 10 on home ice, are second in the Eastern Conference with 43 points.

"That's how it is -- they find ways to win no matter what and that's because they have the character guys with that skill level," he said. "You can't replace some of the injuries you have. David Clarkson brings a different dimension to their game and you can't replace him, but you can bring in players who are skilled enough to play the system and play with the other guys. Their culture is engrained throughout their whole organization.

"It surprises me that people are surprised that they win all the time."

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com
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