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The Panthers 2011-12 season is quickly approaching and with that, floridapanthers.com is going 15 in 15 by taking a look at the top five questions, players to watch and games of the season on a countdown to the home opener on October 15th against Tampa Bay. We'll unveil one of the top five on a rotating basis each day to help fans get ready for what hopes to be an exciting season.

PURCHASE TICKETS TO THE HOME OPENER

Countdown 7: No. 3 Question; How Wil The Starts Be Divided?

Saturday, 10.8.2011 / 10:14 AM ET
By Glenn Odebralski - FloridaPanthers.com / Countdown To Home Opener 2011
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Countdown To Home Opener 2011
Countdown 7: No. 3 Question; How Wil The Starts Be Divided?

The Panthers will rely heavily on new acquisition Jose Theodore to start the season with Scott Clemmensen out for about a month. (Getty Images)
In today's topic, we take a closer look at how the goaltending starts might be divided in the Top Five Questions this season.

  Before the start of the season, this question might have been more of a hot topic as Scott Clemmensen was having a very solid training camp and looked to be pushing Jose Theodore for split duties if not more.

Then came news that Clemmensen went through a minor knee procedure and would miss about a month put that whole debate on the shelf. At least for now.

Theodore, meanwhile had an unnormal pre-season, giving up 12 goals in two starts. For Theodore, he'll be looked upon early and often between the pipes and while the pre-season has some people nervous, he has shown that he is a gamer.

“At the end of the day, a lot of our success early is going to ride on him,’’ said Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen. “He’s a guy who has been down these roads before. I believe in him."

"I’ve been around long enough to know I need to be better," said Theodore following the pre-season. "I’m pretty confident. I will work hard and work ethic overcomes many things. I’m confident for the start of the season."

Theodore has been a successful netminder in this league, having seven seasons with more wins than losses. He's won the Vezina Trophy (best goaltender) while in Montreal and posted solid numbers with Washington (30-7-7, .911 SV%) and Minnesota (15-11-3, .916 SV%) in the last two seasons.

With Clemmensen out to start the season, the backup position falls to 21-year old Swede Jacob Markstrom. How much Dineen decides to play him remains to be seen but with 11 games in the opening month, one would think he gets into a game or two, if not more. With goaltenders taking usually the longest to develop, maybe Markstrom "grows up" quickly when thrown in a game and seizes momentum.

Once Clemmensen comes back healthy, he'll figure to push Theodore and get several starts. The netminder has averaged 31 games the last three seasons, 27 the last two with the Panthers. Last year, Clemmensen had very respectable numbers, posting a .911 SV% and 2.62 GAA.

Keep an eye on the man between the pipes. Like a quarterback in football, the goaltender is an integral part of the team and a reason why they could return to the playoffs or why they could be on the outside looking in.
 

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01
 
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