Jose Theodore the difference between Round 2, elimination for Panthers in Game 7

Florida Panthers goalie Jose Theodore has seen the New Jersey Devils at their best and at their most humbled in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In Game 3, the Devils chased him with three goals on six shots in first six minutes of the game. The Panthers eventually rallied to also send Martin Brodeur to the bench and win the game, 4-3.

In Game 5 on home ice, Theodore confidently turned aside all 30 shots he faced for the 3-0 victory.

He didn't play in Florida's Game 6 loss, sitting out due to an undisclosed injury. (Suspected to be his knee, according to the NY Post.) But Coach Kevin Dineen said he's the starter for Thursday night's Game 7 vs. the Devils:

From the Sun Sentinel:

After flip-flopping throughout this grueling first-round series against the New Jersey Devils, Dineen once again resorted to his early-season mantra that Theodore is his starter for Game 7.

"I expect him to go out and do what he's done for us all year,''Dineen said after morning skate. "I've watched his career from a distance and I know the kind of respect he's earned over the course of his career, but when you're in the coaching business you look at short term and what he's done for us this year. He's given us credibility, stability and he doesn't steal games, he goes out there and gives us the save when we need them and he deserves the start if he can go.''

Theodore's the key to the game.

Even with Brodeur fighting pucks in his skates and the Devils' secondary scorers like David Clarkson and Patrik Elias M.I.A.

Even with the continued battle between a Devils' PK that's struggling and a Panthers' power play that's been a difference-maker in the series (and gets Jason Garrison back on the point).

[ Nicholas J. Cotsonika: Capitals shed underachiever label by beating Bruins in a gritty Game 7 ]

The Panthers' goalie has the ability to pitch a Game 7 shutout or to be "Jose Three-or-More" between the pipes, watching Scott Clemmensen skate off the bench in relief.
In the Panthers' favor: Theodore on home ice. He's 2-1 in the series, stopping 88 or 93 shots. In the regular season, Theodore was 12-5-8 on home ice with a 2.14 GAA and a .925 save percentage in 29 games played; he was 10-11-3 with a  2.85 GAA and a .908 away from BankAtlantic Center.

Who do you like in Game 7?

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