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Markstrom Earns Backup Job

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers
Jacob Markstrom makes a stop during a pre-season game against the Dallas Stars on September 27 at the BankAtlantic Center (Eliot J. Schechter).
The Panthers filled out one part of their opening night lineup prior to the final tune-up game in Dallas as they set their goaltending tandem Thursday afternoon.

With Scott Clemmensen out around a month thanks to a minor knee procedure on Monday, the Panthers decided to go with 21-year old Jacob Markstrom as the backup to Jose Theodore.

Markstrom was battling for the back up spot with 24-year old Tyler Plante with Clemmensen recovering from his procedure. Plante was placed on waivers with the purpose of sending him to the San Antonio Rampage, the Panthers AHL affiliate.

"He earned the roster spot," said Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen to the media following the morning skate at Iceplex. "At the end, it was performance based."

"Of course it was good news for me," said Markstrom prior to the game at American Airlines Center. "I have to work hard, continue to do what I do and try to improve my game, try to stick around here as long as possible.

"For now it's great news. It's fun. That's why I'm here to play and it's good experience for me. Hopefully I can stay up here for a while.

The two young netminders each had two pre-season appearances to impress the Panthers brass with Markstrom playing all 60 minutes in Tampa Bay on September 23 (28 saves, 33 shots) and 31 minutes against Dallas on September 27 (10 saves, 10 shots) while Plante started against Nashville on September 19 (7 saves, 8 shots) and came in against Dallas (12 saves, 16 shots).

While Markstrom is seen as the future between the pipes for the Panthers after being drafted in the second round (31st overall) in the 2008 NHL Draft, it was his play, particularly against Dallas, that earned him the nod now.

"It wasn't potential based for me. We're not here to sell the future," said Dineen. "Guys who perform on the ice are going to earn their way onto the lineup.''

"I need to improve my game and I need to show all the people that I earned it," said Markstrom.

While Markstrom has been the starter for the last couple of years for Brynas in the Swedish Elite League and in Rochester (AHL) last season, he'll be thrust into the role of backup, at least at the beginning.

"I don't really have that mindset really," said Markstrom about thinking of himself as a backup who won't get a lot of opportunities. "I want to play every game. I think every goalie has that mindset. You need to have that mindset.

"You can't be happy to sit on the bench but you see what happens. It's a good team, good league and good goalies in this organization."

After coming in and playing one game against the New Jersey Devils on January 23rd last season, Markstrom is looking forward to the opportunity to get his first NHL start, even if he's taking the situation day by day.

"I'm not going to get anything for free but hopefully I get a chance," said Markstrom. "It's up to me."
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