After playing coy with his goaltenders for the entire series, Florida Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen played it (somewhat) straight prior to Thursday’s Game 7 against the New Jersey Devils.
“If Jose [Theodore] is healthy, he’s going,” Dineen said after Wednesday’s practice. “I watched him for a few minutes and he looks pretty good out there this morning, so that’s encouraging for us.
“Theo’s been our go-to guy and if he’s available, he’ll be the one running with it.”
Even though it sounds like Theodore will be the guy, it’s doubtful Dineen’s comments will temper speculation about Thursday’s starter. The Panthers head coach has flip-flopped between goalies throughout this series — Theodore started Games 1-3, Clemmensen started Game 4, Theodore returned to start Game 5 but got hurt, forcing Clemmensen to start Game 6 — leading many to suggest Dineen’s latest assertion doesn’t really mean anything.
Of course, it’s hard to imagine him not playing Theodore if the 35-year-old is healthy. He was rock solid in Game 5, stopping all 30 shots faced for his first playoff shutout since 2004, looking far more solid than Clemmensen did in Game 6, especially on this tally from Devils forward Steve Bernier:
To be fair, Clemmensen did stop 39 of 42 shots in the overtime loss.