Kevin Dineen didn’t need to yell and scream at Scott Clemmensen to get the message across.
The Panthers weren’t happy with their goaltending situation and Dineen said he didn’t even meet with his struggling backup goaltender.
Bringing in Jacob Markstrom , the Panthers’ hot-shot prospect, was probably better than any speech Dineen could have conjured up.
On Thursday night, one day after Markstrom arrived from the minors, Clemmensen had by far his best outing of the season.
Clemmensen stopped 32 shots and had a shutout going for 53 minutes before Philadelphia scored twice in the final minutes, the game’s decision already decided.
“You wish you had that everyone had to play under those kind of situations sometimes,” Dineen said afterward. “Now you move forward. If performance isn’t there and someone is nipping at your heels, you don’t need a coach yelling at you for motivation. This really makes that part of the job easy for me.”
When Markstrom showed up, it was assumed Clemmensen’s playing time would be diminished. Certainly, Dineen wouldn’t throw Clemmensen — who had a 4.32 goals-against average — in against the Flyers, would he?
“This was a big game for him,” Dineen said. “I haven’t had a lot of conversations with him lately. But I think he understood the situation here as does [ Jose ] Theodore and Markstrom.”
On Wednesday, Clemmensen hurried to pack up his gear and get out of the training facility as quickly as possible. Usually affable and chatty with the media and his teammates, Clemmensen looked sour. His answers were short.
“There are only two nets out there, that goes without saying,” he said as Markstrom was making his way into the locker room from the ice. “It’s not my call and I’m not going to worry about it.”
One night later and the old Clemm was back.
“To be in this league, it’s tough,” Clemmensen said with a smile. “To break in and be successful is tough. If you’re not consistent in this league, you’re going to be out real quick. I’ve been a guy who has prided myself on being able to play in this league and play well — regardless of the role.”
The question now is what do the Panthers do in goal? Theodore, the starter, hasn’t started in Florida’s past two games.
Clemmensen played well in Philadelphia and Markstrom looked strong for much of Friday’s 3-1 loss at Pittsburgh in which the 6-6 rookie made 40 saves.
“We have a good problems for our coaches to have,” defenseman Erik Gudbranson said. “We have three top-notch goaltenders who can play for us in any game. It keeps the intensity high for us. The three of them will push themselves to be in the lineup and play the game.”
Now that Florida’s quick two-game Pennsylvania trip is over, it’s time for the Panthers to start focusing on playing better at home.
The Panthers’ most recent four-game homestand was a disaster as they blew two, two-goal leads in the third period and went 0-1-3. Florida is home for the next three games starting Sunday against the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins.
“I don’t think points is the goal anymore. We need wins,” defenseman Brian Campbell said. “We got points on the last homestand but didn’t get the quality points. We need the two points, not just one. We went .500 on the road and now we need to go back and make our place a tougher place to play.”• The Panthers called up defenseman Colby Robak from AHL San Antonio on Saturday.
• Rookie Jonathan Huberdeau was credited with Florida’s second-period goal Friday in Pittsburgh. But after official review, Mike Weaver was awarded his first goal of the season.
“I had no idea what happened. I thought it hit someone and went in,” said Weaver, who has four assists in his past four games. “[Huberdeau] came right up to me and said he didn’t touch it.”• Dineen has yet to reach out to fired Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff but he plans on catching up soon. Dineen worked with Ruff when the Sabres were the parent club of the AHL’s Portland Pirates — for whom Dineen was head coach.
Ruff was the NHL’s longest-tenured coach until he was fired after the Sabres’ slow start. Ruff was an assistant coach for the Panthers but left Florida to take over the Sabres in 1997.
“I’m very grateful for my time in Buffalo and the knowledge I picked up from Lindy,” Dineen said. “I appreciate how open he was. He shared the wealth. We talked hockey a lot. Those were hours well spent in that office talking with his staff and my staff.”