With everything that’s gone wrong for the Panthers this season, the last thing they needed were questions about Jacob Markstrom.
But that’s what they’ve got.
The 23-year-old goalie — pegged as the club’s goalie of the future — was thrust into action this year after Jose Theodore was lost to a torn groin, and the returns haven’t been great.
Markstrom’s been wildly inconsistent en route to a less-than-stellar stat line: 6-11, 3.17 GAA, .903 save percentage. He’s also been hooked three times in 15 games.
On Tuesday, he allowed five goals on 18 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Islanders, with the fifth — a backhander from Michael Grabner — ending his night prematurely.
Markstrom was replaced by Scott Clemmensen, which led to this tirade:
“Everybody that’s been a goalie that gets pulled knows that it’s not fun, it’s embarrassing, it’s tough,” Markstrom told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I’m angry at myself. I want to play good hockey when I’m out there; I want to be a factor when we’re winning games.”
Equally concerning were the quotes Florida goalie coach Robb Tallas gave to the Sun-Sentinel.
“[Markstrom] needs to work on video, go home and continue to grow and come back for a fresh start,” Tallas explained. “There are no guarantees in this league. You’ve got to earn spots in this league. They’re not handed to you.”
Tallas acknowledged Markstrom was in a tough spot. The team in front of him isn’t very good, and he’s often going up against clubs fighting tooth-and-nail for playoff spots.
But Tallas also said the Swedish netminder “has to make a big save to turn the game around,” and that Florida was “trying to keep his confidence right now.”
The big question most will ask is if Florida mishandled Markstrom by throwing him into this situation. He wasn’t given much of an opportunity to succeed.