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Panthers Go Bear Hunting: Clemmensen Snags Bruins 1-0


BOSTON – Pete DeBoer says bluntly that he is still trying to win games and he is going with the goaltender who gives him the best chance to accomplish that goal.

“I'm not putting a rotation in, trying to protect anyone, play guys for their stats,'' DeBoer said.

Based on that, and Thursday night's performance against the Bruins, expect backup Scott Clemmensen to find more playing time as the season comes to a close.

Clemmensen was peppered with shots on Thursday but stood strong, the former Boston College goalie getting his first shutout as a member of the Panthers as he stopped 36 shots in Florida's 1-0 victory at the Garden.

“I was hoping to get my first shutout before April, but hey, better late than never,'' said Clemmensen, who led the BC Eagles to the 2001 national title. “They came at us pretty good but we killed some penalties. I got lucky on a few saves out there. I know they are a little snake bitten and that worked to my advantage.''

The win snapped Florida's four game losing streak and kept the Panthers from being eliminated from postseason contention for at least another day. Florida's win also put a dent in Boston's playoff run as the Bruins were one of three teams tied for the final spot going into Thursday's game.

The New York Rangers, Florida's opponent on Saturday who play in Tampa on Friday, are four back of the slumping Bruins. The Panthers may not be in the playoff race, but they could have a say on who stays in it.

“We are going to come across situations like this and we really don't have a whole lot else to play for right now,'' said Keith Ballard, whose goal 7:15 into the first period stood as the game winner. Ballard's Minnesota Gophers won the national title the year after Clemmensen left BC.

“Maybe we can upset some teams. It's nice. This was a big game for them. We're going to see some team's better games in these final weeks.''

The Panthers and Bruins have played plenty of close games – especially this season. Thursday was the fourth and final game between the two – each game being decided by one goal. The Panthers won both games in Boston by 1-0 scores. Tomas Vokoun got the shutout the last time here in November. Former Florida backup Craig Anderson also won a 1-0 game in Boston on March 4, 2008.

“Like Buffalo, we played a good first period then ran out of gas,'' DeBoer said. “But we got the goaltending we needed with the lineup we've got to win. .-.-. For a team not really playing for a playoff spot, a lot of guys were sacrificing and putting their bodies on the line for a win. That's nice to see at this time of year. It shows some character.''

After the Panthers were blown out 6-2 in Buffalo on Wednesday night, few could have guessed Thursday's effort would be so much better. The Panthers played a strong first period – like in Boston – only they went to the break with the lead and not facing a deficit. In the second, the Bruins dominated play as they kept the Panthers pinned deep in their zone for much of the period.

The Bruins outshot the Cats 36-20.

“You could see their desperation,'' said DeBoer. “They are in the heat of the battle for a playoff spot.''


Winger Byron Bitz has missed the past three games with an injured elbow and DeBoer says his injury is substantial. Bitz could miss the rest of the season with the injury.

The Panthers acquired Bitz in a trade with the Bruins last month in exchange for defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. Bitz played in two games after the trade but injured his groin and missed four games. Bitz returned and played in five games before getting hurt against Ottawa.

-- DeBoer said injured winger Gregory Campbell has been skating on his broken foot in South Florida and could be back in the lineup in the final week of the season. Campbell is expected to miss Saturday's game against the Rangers. “He has a broken bone in his foot and that's pretty painful,'' DeBoer said. “But he's a tough kid and it could get better quick.''

Campbell has been out since taking a puck off the skate March 20 against Buffalo.

-- Victor Oreskovich got hit hard in the first period and limped to the bench area before returning to the game. Oreskovich would eventually leave the game for good after playing just 2:14 on four shifts.

-- Rostislav Olesz missed his second straight game with a hand injury.

-- Thursday's game was Florida's last of the season outside the Sunshine State. The Panthers play four of their final five at home – with the lone road game on April 10 in Tampa.

-- Florida's home game on April 6 against Ottawa will start at 7 p.m. To accommodate Senators television. The Panthers usually start weekday home games at 7:30.


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We cant even tank correctly

It shows character you have got to be kidding me. This is another 6-1 game if not for Clemmenson.

We have become a passive team in our zone, we don't go for the body, we sit back and try and block shots.

The ESPN mock draft has us drafting defensemen Cam Fowler. It starts with he doesn't have good hockey sense. Sounds like he would fit right in.

Look, I realize that this season is over playoff-wise, and, IMO, has been for a while, but can someone explain to me..when two of our top five prospects are goalies(Markstrom & Salak)..why Vokoun is still a Panther?

Considering they won't be a contender next year either(again, my opinion), why not see what you can get for Vokoun before, or the day of, the draft(supposed to be one of the best and deepest in some time), hand the goal over to Clemmensen next year and take your lumps, give the backup job to Salak, let him get his feet wet and see what your working with for the next 5-10 years in goal. I understand that they(Sexton & Co.) probably didn't get what they were looking for as far as compensation for Vokoun, but at this point...also considering what Vokoun is making(6-6.5 mil a season)...you get what you can for him, keep the players you consider to be your "core" at forward and defense, blow up the rest and start over with this draft and what's promising in your system right now.

I agree mase and I actually think you'll see Vokoun dealt at the draft. I feel sorry for Vokoun because he has been the #1 goalie in the NHL and he would've had the spot light more if he were on a team like Chicago or Washington. If the Panthers are reading this, please lose the rest of your games. We know you have pride and we know you love the game but we have a chance to draft a potential Superstar in Hall or Seguin and you're so close to doing so right now, so please just let one extra goal go by. We draft Hall/Seguin. Maybe trade Vokoun for Carter, or Frolov(if he's not a UFA) go after a defenseman and see how this teams reacts.

Vokoun will be traded at the draft, you can put your money on that. That leaves Clemm & Salak, which I think Salak showed he can dominate the AHL this year so he should get a shot at the backup spot next year. Bring Markstrom over and let him compete with Salak for that spot. If he can't win it outright, I have no problem with Markstrom having at least 1 year in the A to adjust to the N. American game.

Either way, I think TiVo is out for sure at the draft when teams aren't confined to their caps and unable to make certain deals due to the cap.

Problem with the "core" is that the core hasn't been good enough to get us into the playoffs now for several years. Is Weiss a good enough #1 center? Is Horton and all his inconsistent talent a part of that core? What about Booth now? Clearly he came back and caught fire before the 2nd concussion, but will he ever be the same player after 2 concussions in 1 season? Will Matthias ever be more than a 3-4th line center? Is he a part of the core?

Tough questions for the Panther brass to answer. Plus, you've got to question whether Sexton is the right guy to overhaul this team. So far Randy's been about 50-50 in terms of what he's done. He's made some bad moves, like signing Rhino to a 3 year deal to be the #2 center. Then again, his trade deadline moves were smart - he got value where he could and didn't just dump guys when the value wasn't there. He also drafted Kulikov and did a great job of making sure they could get him under contract.

As always, a lot of questions heading into the offseason for this team...

It sucks when I find myself rooting for Boston to score when they pull their goalie! Its not even the draft pick, but the more L's the more desperation to REALLY liquidate the roster with a vengance.

.....our line changes are terrible! Clemmer really pulled through quite a few times.

Lose so we get a better draft pick next year, and trade TVo at the draft.

As much as I like Vokoun, he deserves to go someplace else where he'll have a better defence in front of him. A draft day deal or before is likely.

Is Weiss a number one center? NO. (Too frail)
Is Horton a top line forward? NO (second line)
What happens with Matthias? He's really an unknown, but he's been playing slightly better, but not much more than a number three center.

We cannot build around Weiss and Horton. We need better players and if the opportunity to trade them comes, do it.

I don't think however that a)Sexton will and B) he's not the person to rebuild this team.

Rhino and Stillman can be moved as well.
There's alot of deadwood here.

I've been saying this for awhile:
Culture Change!

I see Vokoun going to Chicago, Philly or Washington.

Here are some thoughts and knowing how awful the panthers are at making trades. I don't think we will get what we could have gotten at the trade deadline because Vokoun's stock has dropped due to his recent play. Also, remember that Vokoun has a no trade clause, he probably would want to go to top round playoff team.

Vokoun to Chicago for their #1 & #2 pick and Verseeg.

Vokoun to Philly for their #1 & #2 pick, Carter.

Vokoun to Capitals for Carlson and Vally .

I don't think Vokoun's stock is down at all. When the games mattered, he was money. Had no help. He's also going into a contract year. There will be a lot of expectations on him next year -- wherever he is.

I agree with GR, T-Vo may be streaky, but look at his play in Jan/Feb. But I don't know about #1 , #2 picks AND Carter/Verseeg???

This will be an interesting summer!

You guys haven't been paying attention up here. Salak has absolutely STUNK the past month and a half here. He's been riding the bench. The number one goalie is Tyler Plante. Go to AHL.com and see Tyler was the AHL Goalie of the month for March.

You also forgot that one of the best prospects for Cats goalie is Mark Cheverie from Denver University. He's a Hobey Baker nominee and the only reason he's not playing for a national championship is because of the upset team in the "Frozen Four", The Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers.

Vokoun was good when he had siedenberg and loapole in front of him. look how he's played without them. all those blocked shots from them 2 d-men is gone. any coincidence?

FLA Kittens, you are looking for too much for Vokoun.

Philly and Chicago will be up against the salary cap so they will be trading contracts not draft picks.

Washington and Chicago will depend on what happens in the playoffs, if they go far and a goalie leads the way they are off the board, if they fall apart because of the goalie then they will want to make a trade again because of the salary cap the chances of them going after the UFA goalies are not very good.

Don't be surprised if Tampa is in the mix for a goalie, they believe if they had Vokoun they would be near the top in the East.

to me, Weiss is at best a second line center, we don't have a top 2 defenseman or a top line forward on the roster.

Clemm deserves to start the remaining games this season.

Vokoun makes $6M a year...you kiddin me.

Vokoun is not going to Philly. Why would they give up a 25 year old forward for a 33-34 year old goaltender.

Chicago makes more sense but we'd have to take Huet back in that deal. The hawks have no room unless that happens. Plus they are not giving up #1 and # 2 picks. Versteeg maybe, but honestly we don't want him.
If we think that most of our guys here don't have hockey sense, Versteeg has none himself and his play is sometimes maddening!

Im pretty shocked at the hate for Vokoun who has put up better numbers this year than Luongo and Craig Anderson

I don't think anyone here hates Vokoun. I wish the Panthers could keep him. He is certainly one of the top goalies in the league without playoff experience. They should trade him because he deserves to be in the playoffs sometime in his career.

I still think Vokoun has been inconsistent in net of late. But who wouldn't be? Especially when no one is blocking shots anymore. Point blank shots are difficult to stop.
*I just think the Panthers made a huge mistake not trading him at the deadline.

Yes, Chicago is close to the cap but there are ways to fix it in the off season. I think they will be dumping salary in the offseason, Sopel, Huet and Bouwer come to mind.

Philly would be wise to go after Vokoun because there have always been goaltending issues in Philly. They have one starting goalie coming off a major injury. Their mistake each and every year seems to be not picking up a star goalie. They do have guys who can replace Carter.

Caps should be worried. Theodore and Vally are question marks right now. Last year, the Sharks looked unbeatable just like the Caps, and they ended up tanking in the playoffs. So, Caps could certainly be looking at Vokoun. I would like to see the Panthers pick up Carson or Alzner from Hershey.

Tampa Bay could happen but why would Vokoun want to go to another team that has not made the playoffs? It is still Vokoun's choice.

Vokoun had plenty of playoff experience playing with the Preds

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