When the Florida Panthers brought Tim Thomas to Sunrise to revive his NHL career, they thought that their situation in goal would be manageable for the season and wouldn’t kill any chances they had to win some points in the 2013-14 season.
With their home opener looming tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida’s goalkeepers couldn’t get much worse on this young season. Thomas suffered a groin injury that is keeping him off the ice and Jacob Markstrom started for the Panthers in goal last night against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. It was Markstrom’s first start of the season, already scheduled because of back-to-back games, and not a pretty night.
Markstrom allowed six of the Lightning’s 24 shots by him and was pulled with just under 11 minutes to play in the contest. Scott Clemmensen, who had just been recalled from AHL San Antonio due to Thomas’ injury, replaced Markstrom and gave up another goal. Clemmensen and Markstrom combined to let one out of every four Tampa Bay shots through for the night.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the problems can’t be solely placed on Thomas’ ailment. It wasn’t like Thomas was guarding the net like a fat guy guards his french fries before the injury. Thomas is 45th in the NHL with a .850 save percentage and it’s not like he’s seeing a ridiculous amount of shots, as there are 28 goalies who have had more pucks to try to stop than Thomas has had.
If you combine their struggles in goal with the fact that since their first game of the season, the Panthers have scored three goals in three games, it could be a long year for Florida.
The hope is that Thomas’ struggles were due to his injury, that it will heal fully and Thomas can revert to his 2011-12 form. If that doesn’t happen, fans can expect the Panthers to continue to make it seem like they an empty net all game long.
Read more here