Sports Outside the Beltway

Whacked- Washington Capitals beat Florida 7-4

After 15 games I am ready to declare the Panthers dead for the 2009-10 NHL season. From AP-

Even without two-time MVP Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals are still quite adept at putting the puck in the net — especially against the defensively challenged Florida Panthers.Washington Capitals 11-7

Tomas Fleischmann scored twice during a five-goal third period, and the short-handed Capitals beat the Panthers 7-4 Saturday night for a sweep of their home-and-home series.

Washington played a third straight game without Ovechkin, who has an upper body injury. The Capitals were also without injured defensemen Mike Green and Jeff Schultz, both of whom were hurt Friday night during a 4-1 victory in Florida.

But Washington prevailed anyway, amassing a season-high seven goals in the process.

The Panthers scored four goals without David Booth and Radek Dvorak. I will repeat it again, Washington will not make the Stanley Cup finals as long as they try to ride the back of Goalie Jose Theodore to get there.

As mediocre as Theodore is, one half of Florida’s goaltending tandem is even worse. Scott Clemmensen has played in 4 games this year for Florida and been horrible in three of them. In addition to last night’s seven goals, he gave up five to Dallas in a game a little over a week ago, and before that against Buffalo gave up two goals in the first 90 seconds of play. Coach Peter DeBoer yanked Clemmensen but the damage was already fatal. Florida went on to lose 5-1.

Here’s a question for any NHL stats officianados- Why didn’t Clemmensen get the defeat for the 5-1 loss to Buffalo? He left the game early but Florida never tied the score after he left the game. In baseball if a starting pitcher leaves a game and his team never regains the lead later on or ties the game, he gets the loss. No matter what the score was when the starter was removed.

Back to Clemmensen, his stats are horrific this year other than his 2-1 record in goal. He has a .838 save pct and is allowing 5.14 goals a game. What if Alexander Ovechkin had been playing last night? Dallas was without Mike Modano when Clemmensen let five pucks get past him in that game.

Florida had great goaltending last year with Tomas Vokoun and Craig Anderson. They combined for nine shutouts and that is no easy feat as the Panthers Defensemen with the exception of now departed Jay Bouwmeester, always had problems when it came to getting the puck out of the Florida zone. In the offseason, Anderson became a unrestricted free agent and eventually signed with Colorado where he has continued to to excel in goal.

The Panthers signed Scott Clemmensen who was coming off a breakthrough year in New Jersey. Clemmensen was excellent last year, but had shown very little before that said he was a quality NHL Goalie. Florida signed Clemmensen rather than Anderson probably in order to save the team about 1.5 million dollars over the next two years.

Clemmensen is a bust in my opinion and if Florida was serious about fielding a winning hockey team, they’d let this bum go and call up Mike Brodeur or Alexander Salak from Rochester. Of course Florida management will let financial considerations decide their personnel moves, and because they’d have to eat Clemmensen’s salary were they to release him, GM Randy Sexton will keep him on the Panther roster to the absolute detriment of the team he is supposed to be running. Just like Washington keeps playing the underperforming Theodore. Unfortunately Florida doesn’t have the talent to make a five goals a game goalie a winner in the NHL.

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