The Florida Panthers suffered their second loss of the 2013-14 season on Tuesday night, and also lost their starting goaltender in the process. Tim Thomas left early in the first period with a groin injury, after allowing two goals on five shots. Backup goaltender Jacob Markstrom stopped all 25 shots he faced the rest of the way, but the Panthers offense was unable to do enough to help him as they fell 2-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers. It was Markstrom’s second appearance of the season, as he also replaced Thomas for the third period of Saturday’s 7-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Things got off to a good start for Thomas this season, as he led the Panthers to a win in his first game in more than a year. He looked rough against the Blues, and allowed five goals on 28 shots before being pulled. His injury now gives Markstrom a chance to take over as the team’s top netminder, a chance he has certainly waited long enough for. The Panthers selected Markstrom 31st overall in 2008, and he had appeared in 31 games prior to this season. Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen were ahead of him on the depth chart last season, but injuries and poor play gave him the chance to play in 23 games, posting an 8-14-1 record with a 3.22 goals-against average. The Panthers are still in rebuilding mode, but have the weapons to be a surprise playoff contender. Signing Thomas was a risky move with the chance of a big reward, and hopefully he won’t miss much time. While he is out, Markstrom has a great opportunity to shine for the Panthers and show he really is their goaltender of the future.