April 19, 2012
Clemmensen to face Brodeur
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
NEWARK, N.J. - Scott Clemmensen figures he can beat Martin Brodeur in an NHL playoff game.
On Thursday night, Clemmensen will find out whether he is right.
Though Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen refused to tip his hand, all signs point to Clemmensen starting in the Panthers net in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal at the Prudential Center.
Clemmensen made 19 saves in relief of Jose Theodore in Game 3, won 4-3 by the Panthers. If Clemmensen can get the best of his former team, the Panthers, who lead the best-of-seven 2-1, could wrap up the first-round series on Saturday night at home.
Clemmensen has never started an NHL playoff game.
“On any given night I believe I can beat Marty,” Clemmensen said. “I’ll be ready. It adds a unique flavour when you play against your former team. Everyone is going to tell you that. I have so much respect for those guys over there and I want them to respect me back.”
It’s clear that the Devils already respect the 34-year-old Clemmensen. He spent parts of five seasons with New Jersey, mostly as Brodeur’s backup, but won 25 games for the Devils in 2008-09 when Brodeur was injured.
Theodore did not talk to reporters after the morning skate. He stayed on the ice a solid 15 minutes after Clemmensen departed, the most obvious indication he will back up Clemmensen.
Clemmensen, who appeared in three games for the Maple Leafs in 2007-08, is 5-0 in his career against the Devils.
“I know every time we play him, it feels like he elevates his game,” Devils captain Zach Parise said. “Technically, he is better now than he was with us.”
The Devils stressed on Wednesday that the game is a must-win for them and kept that line of thinking going following the morning skate. They will have to be more disciplined and Brodeur will have to be sharper, as the Panthers have scored six power-play goals on 10 opportunities.
“When you go down 3-1 in a series, it is so tough to come back,” Brodeur, who was pulled in Game 3, said. “It has been done, but you need to address this game as do or die.”
There was some thought that Devils coach Peter DeBoer would replace defenceman Anton Volchenkov with rookie Adam Larsson, but DeBoer said there would be no lineup changes.
Clemmensen spent the majority of 2007-08 with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL and will draw on his playoff experiences with the Leafs’ farm club. Clemmensen played in 17 post-season games for the Marlies in the spring of ’08 and won eight of them.
“For sure,” Clemmensen said. “You’re thinking about overtimes, different scenarios, momentum swings, stuff like that. Even though it was four years ago, any kind of post-season experience, that pressure, is going to help you.”
In every game of this series, one team has opened a 3-0 lead. Only the Panthers, in Game 3, fully erased the deficit and came back to win.
“Here’s one guarantee,” Dineen said. “If we spot them three goals, I don’t think we will be able to come back tonight. You don’t get away with that time after time. We’re going to have a play a more consistent brand of hockey. We’re not going to steal anything. We will have to earn everything we get.”