When the Florida Panthers recalled first-year goalie Samuel Montembeault yesterday to join fellow rookie keeper Harri Sateri, it was only a matter of time before the news came out about what injury had forced starter James Reimer to join the Panthers’ other dinged up veteran, Roberto Luongo, on the sidelines. That announcement came today, as head coach Bob Boughner told the media that Reimer will be out “a few weeks” with a pulled groin.
It’s more bad luck and tough timing for Florida, who will now have a hard time staying relevant in the Eastern Conference behind two goalies with a combined three games of NHL experience. The Cats are already 11 points outside of a wild card spot and, despite being fourth in points percentage in the Atlantic, are even farther behind for a divisional berth. Health in net has been no small factor, as both Luongo – out with a lower body injury of his own since December – and Reimer have missed time this season. In fact, the duo have only both been healthy for 21 of Florida’s 46 games. However, this will be the first time that both could be out for an extended period of time. Boughner did state today that he hopes Luongo back in practice next week, but stopped short of predicting his return to game action.
In the meantime, the bulk of the net action will fall to Sateri, beginning with the start tonight against the Metropolitan-leading Washington Capitals. Sateri, 28, isn’t your typical rookie. The Finnish journeyman returned to North America on a two-way deal with Florida following three seasons in the KHL. Prior to that, Sateri played four seasons with the AHL’s Worcester Sharks after being selected by San Jose in the fourth round in 2008 out of the Finnish Liiga. Montembeault, on the other hand, is a true rookie; the 21-year-old is in his first season out of the QMJHL after being selected by the Panthers in the third round in 2015.