Renaud Lavoie of RDS reports that Jose Theodore has been diagnosed with a torn groin, likely putting him out of commission for the rest of the season. Theodore needed to be helped off the ice just two minutes into Florida’s 6-2 loss to Carolina on Saturday.
Statistically, the Panthers’ play in net has been the worst in the NHL this season, ranking 30th with 3.7 goals allowed per game. Theodore has been in net for the bulk of those minutes, holding a 4-6-3 mark through 15 games. It’s easy now to forget that the 36-year-old was a Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender a decade ago, as he ranks 39th in goals against average (3.29) and 35th in save percentage (.893) this season.
Losing a player that has posted such poor numbers shouldn’t be devastating for a club, but unfortunately for the Panthers, their other option is even less appealing. Backup Scott Clemmensen, who’s played in nine games, has been the worst goalie in hockey this season, ranking 42nd out of 42 qualifying netminders in GAA (4.31) and 41st in save percentage (.857).
The team’s best bet may now be 23-year-old Jacob Markstrom, who was recalled from Florida’s AHL affiliate in San Antonio in the wake of Theodore’s injury. The 6-foot-6 Swede has started 10 games for the Panthers over the last three seasons, going 2-7 with a 2.77 GAA. He’s been victimized by the Panthers’ terrible offensive output this season, receiving only one goal of support in each of his two starts.
Markstrom is with the team in Sunrise but could not dress until midway through the first period of Sunday’s game after United Airlines lost his goalie pads during the trip back from Carolina.
Another option being tossed around is a trade for Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who spent five seasons in Florida from 2000-06. Luongo’s been splitting time in Vancouver with Boston College alum Corey Schneider and was shelled by Detroit for eight goals is his last outing, but the veteran (5-1-3, 2.11, .916) would provide an instant boost to a Panthers team that may already be out of contention less than halfway through the season.
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