A day after goalie Tim Thomas left the ice with a groin injury, the Florida Panthers recalled Scott Clemmensen from San Antonio of the American Hockey League, but have so far declined to place Thomas on the injured reserve list. Thomas is still expected to miss the next few games, but he was optimistic when asked about his prognosis on Wednesday.
"It's already feeling better," Thomas told the Miami Herald. "I'm very happy with the progress in less than 24 hours. But you don't want to speculate for one game then miss the cut off. But I don't think it will be very long if that helps."
During the first period of Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, Thomas felt a twinge in his groin that he knew would force him to leave the game. Shortly thereafter, the Flyers scored their second goal on a 50-foot shot from Braydon Coburn.
"It's been so long since I've had any muscle strain, I just couldn't believe it," Thomas said. "I didn't know how to respond to it quickly."
Jacob Markstrom will start in Thomas' place on Thursday at Tampa. He likely would have started that game anyway to give Thomas some rest. Markstrom stopped all 25 shots he saw in relief on Tuesday.
Clemmensen will provide depth while Thomas heals. He was sent to San Antonio to rehab after undergoing minor knee surgery in September. "I feel great physically," he told the Herald on Wednesday. "I had a late start to the season but I'm getting caught up."
Thomas has struggled in his return to the ice following a one-year hiatus from hockey. The 39-year-old has saved just 85.0 percent of opposing shots in three games so far, well below his career average of 92.1 percent.
He could be victim to small sample size variance, however. Thomas has only seen 60 shots come his way in 107 minutes of play.
To make room for Clemmensen on the roster, the Panthers sent forward Drew Shore to San Antonio. Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said it would be good to give Shore more playing time in the minors. "He'll log some major minutes in San Antonio," he said. "He needs to play some hockey."