As winter continues to roll in and the nights grow colder even for Floridians such as myself, the lack of hockey is beginning to take its toll. Browsing hockey blogs, twitter, and other social media outlets while constantly hitting the refresh button hoping for some sort of good news has become a new pastime for many NHL fans. However, in this mundane and depressing routine, a beam of happiness shined through this past evening when my twitter began to erupt with praise for Panthers’ prospect and current San Antonio Rampage goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
Markstrom won his 6th game in a row this past evening as the Rampage went on to defeat the Oklahoma City Barons 4-3 in a nail biter of a game. Now before you jump to conclusions and say that an AHL performance has no bearing on how a goaltender will perform against an NHL lineup, the Oklahoma City Barons dress possibly the greatest offensive unit in the AHL that consists of handful of both future and current NHL stars. Markstrom faced an onslaught of shots from NHL stars Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall as well as defensemen and current AHL scoring leader Justin Schultz. The Barons are possibly the greatest test for any goaltender in the AHL at this moment and Markstrom passed with flying colors behind a young and inexperienced Rampage defense.
Panthers’ TV announcer Steve Goldstein expressed his praise for Markstrom via Twitter
Markstrom’s stellar play did not go unnoticed by the AHL community as he was announced as the CCM/AHL player of the week for the time period ending December 9th. Markstrom went 4-0-0 for the week while allowing only seven goals on 137 shots. After a slow start to the season, Markstrom’s impressive week improved his overall record to 8-6-1 with a 2.16 GAA / .916 SV%. In honor of his achievement Markstrom will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to the Rampage’s next home game.
Jacob Markstrom’s current streak of exceptional play shouldn’t come as a surprise to Panthers fans. Due to an injury to Scott Clemmensen, Markstrom was able to get his first taste of the NHL last season. Markstrom made himself right at home in between the pipes on the big stage. In his seven games played for the Panthers Markstrom had a 2.66 GAA / .923 SV%.
When the lockout is eventually (hopefully) lifted and play resumes in the NHL, Markstrom will have to dazzle both his coaches and GM Dale Tallon in order to crack the Panthers’ lineup. This year the Panthers plan to rely once again on the tandem of former Vezina Trophy winner Joe Theodore and veteran backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen whom they signed to a 2-year deal this past off-season. To the surprise and joy of many Panthers’ fans Jose Theodore had a career resurgence last year in his first season with the club, posting a 2.46 GAA / .917 Save %. However, given that he is in the final year of his contract Theodore will be on the short leash this season and could possibly be traded if Markstrom continues to play at this level.
Here is a highlight video of Jacob Markstrom via The San Antonio Rampage