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Countdown 26: How Will The Goalie Starts Go?

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
The Panthers 2010-11 season is quickly approaching and with that, is taking a look at the top ten questions, players to watch and games of the season on a countdown to the home opener on October 16th against Tampa Bay. We'll unveil one of the top ten on a rotating basis each day to help fans get ready for what hopes to be an exciting season.

In today's topic, we take a closer look at how the starts for the goaltenders will go in our Top 10 Questions Of The Season.

There's no question that Tomas Vokoun is the Panthers bonafide starting netminder. The 12th year vet has played in over 575 games in his NHL career and has a .916 save percentage and 2.56 goals against average while posting 240 victories. He's played in more than half of his team's games the last seven seasons and has posted at least 25 victories in six straight seasons before last season (23-28-11).

Vokoun played a lot of hockey last year. Suiting up in 63 games during the regular season, he also played in five games for the Czech Republic during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and then led the Czechs to a gold medal by going 7-1 at the World Championships in Germany.

Backup Scott Clemmensen saw action in 23 games and had a .912 save percentage and a 2.91 goals against average while recording nine victories (9-8-2).

So how many games will the goalies see this season?

"We're not going in with any plan," said head coach Peter DeBoer. "Tomas Vokoun is our starting goaltender. He's one of the best in the league. He went right after our season ended and I thought carried the Czech Republic to a world championship in the spring.

"He's our guy. How many games he plays and how many games we get Scott Clemmensen is going to depend on a lot of different factors."

Those factors include back-to-backs, three games in four nights, going with the hot netminder if the team is doing well.

The anointed starters for the Panthers have averaged 64.8 games since the lockout with a high of 75 (Roberto Luongo in 2005-06 to a low of 58 (Ed Belfour in 2006-07).

For Vokoun, he can't control over when he plays and when Clemmensen gets the start. He just has to be ready.

"I always play as many games as the coach says I'm going to play," said Vokoun. "I don't involve myself in those decisions. I never did and never will. I'll approach game one the same as game 82 and if they tell me I'm playing that actual game, I'll prepare, and if I'm not playing, I'll prepare in case I have to play."

Keeping Vokoun fresh throughout the season, because when he's on his game (allowed 16 goals in 12 games with four shutouts and going 7-3-2 from January 7 until January 31st), he's one of the best in the league, and he'll give the Panthers a chance to be successful.

It's just a matter of finding the right mix for the starts for the duo.
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