Scott Clemmensen has started two games in a row for the Panthers, winning both of them while allowing three goals on 74 shots. It is just the second time all season he’s started more than one in a row. Clemmensen has now started 13 games this year, well below last year’s mark of 39 filling in for an injured Martin Brodeur. Tomas Vokoun started 55 games last year for the Panthers and has been their work horse again this season. The thinking was that he would possibly split time evenly when Clemmensen was acquired, but this season Vokoun has already started 58 games. With the team out of the playoff picture, Clemmensen may start more games these last few weeks of the season. However, Vokoun is expected to start Thursday, according to the Miami Herald.
Newly acquired Kari Lehtonen has started four of five for the Stars. He’s gone 3-1, allowing ten goals. This included a 45-save effort against the Sharks last week, and stopping 34 of 35 in a 3-1 win at Nashville Tuesday night. Marty Turco has lost six of seven, allowing three or more goals in five of those seven games. He has 20 wins and 30 losses, with the 20 wins being his fewest since the 2002 season. He is a free agent at the end of the season and probably won’t be re-signed by the Stars. So why not let Lehtonen play and try to regain his form from years past?
St. Louis Blues
The Blues are eight points behind the hot Red Wings for the last playoff spot in the West, so there is still hope. Chris Mason had started 12 in a row before Ty Conklin got a couple of starts. Conklin has won two in a row, beating the Rangers and Devils both on the road. He shut out the Devils, playing brilliantly in a 1-0 win Saturday night. Perhaps the Blues should have stuck with Conklin Tuesday night, as Mason lost his third in a row, allowing three goals on 39 shots. He has now allowed 11 goals in his last seven periods of action. With 10 games remaining, the Blues will have to be near-perfect to sneak into the playoffs for the second year in a row. Right now, Conklin gives them the best chance to do just that.
Last week I talked about this situation and said Brian Elliott should get most of the starts down the stretch. And while the Sens are struggling, Elliott is not. He posted his second straight shutout Tuesday night, a 2-0 win over the Flyers. This win was a very important one, as the Sens and Flyers are battling for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference. The Sens had gone 1-8 in their past nine games before Elliott’s back-to-back wins, and they need him to remain in this form for the remainder of the season and the playoffs. Sens coach Cory Clouston had been working the oft-injured Pascal Leclaire back into the mix, but Leclaire will ride the pine if Elliott continues to play well.
Michael Leighton, who had been the MVP for the Flyers in their season-saving turnaround, injured his ankle last week and will now be out 8 to 10 weeks. That is essentially the whole season, unless the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup Finals, and even then he would be questionable. This is not good for the Flyers who have already lost Ray Emery for the season with a hip injury. Brian Boucher is being forced into majority of the action, and he has not played well. He’s lost three in a row and 10 of his past 11 decisions. With only five wins and 16 losses, the Flyers may need another option in the playoffs. But they really can’t afford to start a rookie goalie (Jeremy Duchesne), who is their only other option right now.
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