Could Florida’s playoff starter be…Scott Clemmensen?

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Following Florida’s 4-1 defeat of Carolina on Saturday — clinching the first-ever Southeast Division title in franchise history — Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen had some interesting things to say about his goaltending.

Most interesting? He doesn’t know who his Game 1 playoff starter will be.

After backup Scott Clemmensen stopped 34 of 35 shots against the ‘Canes, Dineen said it’s going to be tough to decide who will start Florida’s first-round playoff matchup against New Jersey — Clemmensen or Jose Theodore.

“Clem made a real statement with his game tonight, as well as in the last month,” Dineen told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Those two have made it a very tough decision to see who’s going to get the start in Game 1.”

More, from the Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov:

At 34, Clemmensen played a huge role in the Panthers’ success this season, going 14-6-6, or earning points in 20 of 26 decisions, with a 2.57 GAA. When Theodore was in and out of the lineup with a knee injury from Jan. 5 to Feb. 11, Clemmensen stepped in and went 7-3-3.

“It’s always special when you play your ex-team and not in a negative fashion. I don’t care [who starts],” said Clemmensen, who is 3-0-1 with a .962 save percentage in his last four starts.

“It’s always special “Whether it’s Jose in there I’m rooting for him because I want everyone on this team to win, so regardless if it’s him or me I’m going to be ready to play and be on my best game.”you play your ex-team and not in a negative fashion.

The narrative of Clemmensen facing his former Devils mates has not been lost on the Panthers. Clemmensen had been the backup in New Jersey until 2008-09, when Martin Brodeur went down with an injury. That opened the door for a temporary starting gig and Clemmensen didn’t look back, posting a 25-13-1 record with a 2.39 goals-against-average, which was good enough to earn a $3.6 million, three-year free-agent deal with the Panthers.

“Most people might be surprised, but I’m not, to be quite honest with you,” said Panthers center John Madden, who played with Clemmensen in New Jersey. “I remember when Marty [Brodeur] went down [in 2008-09] and he came in for three-quarters of the season and he won 30-something games for us.

“He was unbelievable back then.”

Which begs the question: Can Clemmensen be unbelievable now?

Video: Weise records Gordie Howe hat trick after spirited scrap with Hamonic

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Thursday’s game between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers wasn’t even nine minutes old by the time Dale Weise had recorded the Gordie Howe hat trick.

Already with the opening goal and an assist on Radko Gudas‘ goal, giving Philly a 3-0 lead, Weise dropped the gloves with Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic for a spirited fight off a faceoff.

Not many, if any, positives for the Islanders after a disastrous start. Needing a win to close the gap on the Boston Bruins in the wild card race, New York fell behind 5-0 by the time the first period was over.

There is perhaps even more bad news for the Islanders: Hamonic wasn’t on the bench to begin the second period.

The Islanders have since provided an update: Hamonic will not return to this game due to an upper-body injury.

 

 

The Islanders are off to a disastrous start in Philly, Flyers chase Greiss

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Talk about the worst possible start for the New York Islanders.

Trailing the Boston Bruins by four points for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders lived through a nightmare to begin Thursday’s game, falling behind the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 4-0 — before the midway point of the first period.

Dale Weise started the scoring at 4:30 of the first period. By the 9:19 mark, the Flyers opened up a four-goal lead and had already chased Islanders starting goalieThomas Greiss, who allowed three goals on eight shots.

Jaroslav Halak was brought into the game and promptly surrendered a goal to Jordan Weal.

It continued to get worse for the Islanders, who finished the first period trailing by five goals. Shots? They were 19-10 in favor of Philly. Yup. It was bad.

With Josh Ho-Sang in the box serving a double-minor for high sticking, Wayne Simmonds gave Philly a 5-0 lead with his 30th goal of the year.

Shaping up to be a long night for the Islanders.

Karlsson’s ironman streak comes to an end as Sens visit Wild

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For the first time since the lockout-shortened season, the Ottawa Senators will not have star defenseman Erik Karlsson in their lineup.

With the Sens four points back of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead, Karlsson will not play tonight versus the Minnesota Wild, which ends his ironman streak at 324 consecutive games played.

Karlsson trails Brent Burns by only five points for the lead in that category among NHL defenseman. He also logs close to 27 minutes of ice time per game. Only three blue liners in the entire league — Dustin Byfuglien, Drew Doughty and Ryan Suter — play more on average per game.

The injury reportedly occurred when Karlsson blocked a shot against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. Trade deadline acquisition Jyrki Jokipakka is expected to make his debut for Ottawa, per the Citizen.

“If we miss him for a game or two, we’re not sure what’s going to happen,” forward Mark Stone told the Ottawa Citizen. “He’s the best defenceman in the world. If you take him out of your lineup, it’s obviously a huge blow.”

WATCH LIVE: Stars at Bruins

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The Boston Bruins hold the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and they will look to continue their push for the playoffs when they host the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

You can catch the game on NBCSN (7:30 p.m. ET) or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

McAvoy has the talent to improve Bruins right now

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins continue push for playoff spot against Stars

Stars go deeper than rock bottom in Ruff’s ‘worst game’ with team