On Monday night, the rust showed.
Clemmensen gave up two goals on the first three shots he faced on Monday night, the Panthers goalie shaking his head as the second puck got past, some of the fans in the arena booing. Clemmensen, like his teammates, had been practicing for weeks in preparation for the season. But there's nothing like game speed to get one, well, up to speed.
Clemmensen's last game was played on April 8 in Tampa.
“You are obviously rusty coming off the summer, but the most important thing is getting your rhythm back and going through game situations,'' Clemmensen said after practice on Tuesday.
“It's my 11th training camp as a pro, so it's a process I've been through before. You work through it as quickly as you can. [The two goals] came in the first five minutes of the first preseason game. You always want to play perfectly and win by pitching a shutout. Realistically, that's not going to happen. There's rust. But I wasn't going to let it bother me. The most important thing was getting comfortable. Of course, two early goals makes that harder to do.''
Clemmensen settled down and helped lead the Panthers to a 4-3 win over the visiting Predators in the second game of Monday's preseason double-header. New coach Kevin Dineen split the goalie duties in the first game but decided from the start that Clemmensen was going to go the whole way in the second game.
Dineen's decision makes a lot of sense. With rookie Brian Foster – who gave up four goals on Monday – off to minor league camp, the Panthers have four goalies left in camp with four preseason games left. Rookies Jacob Markstrom and Tyler Plante may see time in Florida's home-and-home series with Tampa Bay this weekend before heading to San Antonio for AHL camp. Then its just Clemmensen and Jose Theodore to finish things out next week against Dallas.
“I want to see Clemmensen get two games and we'll give [Markstrom] a game in Tampa,'' Dineen said. “Sometimes it's not fair to the second guy in splitting going in. It's also not fair sometimes to pull the starter after he's gotten into the rhythm of the game. When [Nashville] changed goalies, we scored in like the first minute. It's a tough thing to get thrown into a game. Let the guy play the game and feel good afterward.''
By allowing Clemmensen to stay in the game, Dineen put Clemmensen in a situation he hopes to get used to during the regular season. The Panthers held a third period lead and Clemmensen had to close things out. Clemmensen stopped five shots in the third period and 23 of 26 overall.
“You have to work yourself back into game situations, breaking the game into segments,'' said Clemmensen, who ended last season on a seven game personal losing streak. “You not only have to start things off, but finish as well. It's important to get the rust off now. That's the important part.''
CATS MAKE CUTS
The Panthers cut their roster to 46 on Tuesday as Vincent Trocheck, John McFarland and Josh Birkholz were returned to their Canadian junior clubs. Brian Foster, Adam Comrie, Michael Caruso, Justin Bernhardt, Jake Hauswirth, AJ Jenks, Bill Thomas and Garrett Wilson were also assigned to AHL camp in San Antonio.
Coach Chuck Weber and his staff left for Texas on Tuesday as the Rampage open camp on Sunday. General manager Dale Tallon said a big chunk of remaining players should be headed to San Antonio after Saturday's home preseason game against the Lightning.
Quinton Howden (neck) and Anthony Luciani (shoulder) haven't practiced but remain in camp.
“The decisions are getting tougher and tougher,'' Tallon said. “This means more reps for everyone. We'll move forward and keep cutting pieces at a time. We'd like to be close to the team we're going to have so we can get more familiar as a team. We'll have a few more Thursday then more on Sunday. These guys we sent down [Tuesday] played well. It's not what they did; it's what is in front of them right now.''
FLORIDA PANTHERS TRAINING CAMP
At Saveology.com Iceplex, Coral Springs
Wednesday's practice: 9 a.m.-noon