Game 6 between the Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils already has some inherent drama, from the Panthers trying to win their first playoff series since 1996 to the Devils trying to extend the stay of captain Zach Parise for another round to Florida team president Michael Yormark chirping Jersey fans on Twitter.
Add another log to the fire: Ex-Devil Scott Clemmensen gets the start against in an elimination game, as Panthers starter Jose Theodore — who pitched a shutout in Game 5 of the series — is out with an undisclosed injury. Goalie Jacob Markstrom has been recalled from San Antonio to back him up in Game 6.
Panthers Coach Kevin Dineen was coy about Theodore's status for the game, but Clemmensen confirmed he's starting.
It'll be Clemmensen's third appearance of the series, all of them in New Jersey. He played 54 minutes in relief of Theodore in Game 3, stopping all 19 shots he faced and rallying the Panthers to a 4-3 win. In Game 4, he gave up four goals on 27 shots as Brodeur shut out Florida, 4-0.
As for the Devils, they've been expectedly defiant heading into this one.
"It doesn't feel good because we're down in the series, but we haven't gotten outplayed at any moment in the series," goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "We're just in this position and, I believe to a certain extent, it's our own doing. We had a three-goal lead (in Game 3) and we messed it up and we played a good hockey game (in Game 4) and we got a little outworked there in Game 5. It's just a matter of doing the things right and. if we do, things will happen for the best for us."
"You can ask Florida about the last 10 games of the season," DeBoer said of the Panthers' struggles to lock up the Southeast Division until their final regular season game. "When the pressure is on you to finish somebody off, it's a different game."
The Devils, incidentally, have gone 27 postseason games without consecutive wins.