Panthers activate Thomas, demote Markstrom

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When the Panthers return from the Christmas break, Tim Thomas will be joining them after Florida activated him from the injured reserve list, according to the Miami Herald.

Thomas hasn’t played since Dec. 10 due to a groin injury. He came back to the NHL after taking a season off and the results have been mixed. In addition to his injury troubles, he certainly isn’t challenging for another Vezina Trophy with his 2.75 GAA and .909 save percentage in 21 starts.

To make room, the Panthers decided to return 23-year-old Jacob Markstrom to the minors. When the summer started, it looked like Markstrom might serve as the Panthers’ starting goaltender in 2013-14, but the signing of Thomas threw a wrench in that and Markstrom’s subsequent struggles has cost him his roster spot entirely.

Instead Scott Clemmensen will split the goaltending duties with Thomas for now. Clemmensen allowed six goals against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, but before that he had won four straight starts by holding his opponents to just six goals over that span.

Florida also sent 21-year-old defenseman Alex Petrovic to the AHL San Antonio Rampage.

Panthers upcoming five-game homestand ‘makes or breaks’ their season

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The Florida Panthers have been on the outside looking in at the playoff picture all season. After going 3-1-0 on their recent road trip through Canada, they’re headed home for a five-game homestand and feeling good about themselves as they sit 10 points back of Detroit in the Atlantic Division.

As Harvey Fialkov of The Sun-Sentinel shares, the team is looking at their upcoming run of home games as critical to their hopes of getting into the playoff race.

“Getting a good road trip means nothing if you don’t have a good homestand,” Panthers forward Shawn Matthias said after practice Sunday morning. “It makes or breaks your season. We’ve had a few good weeks; now we got to take advantage of it.”

Going beyond their road trip, the Panthers have won seven of their last nine and, unsurprisingly, their wins have come in games where they’ve limited opponents to either one or two goals. With Tim Thomas out that means Jakob Markstrom and Scott Clemmensen have done their part to hold things down.

If the Panthers can find a way to improve on their 7-7-3 home record, things just might get more interesting in the Atlantic.

Let’s hear it for Scott Clemmensen


The red-hot Florida Panthers (yeah, sounds weird) won their fifth straight last night in Ottawa, and once again they had veteran goalie Scott Clemmensen to thank for a big part of the victory.

Clemmensen stopped 32 of the 34 shots the Senators registered, as the Panthers fought back from a 2-1 deficit to win 4-2. For the 36-year-old, it was his fourth straight solid start, a stretch in which he’s posted a save percentage of .943.

”He has been good, he’s been rock solid,” said coach Peter Horachek, per the Miami Herald. “He’s made the saves we’ve needed him to make. He keeps us in the games, stays in control. Now that he’s been playing, he looks comfortable. Timing is important.”

Clemmensen’s resurgence comes on the heels of a nightmare 2013 season that ended with a save percentage of .874 in 19 appearances. That stat put him dead last in the NHL among regular starters.

It’s also come with Tim Thomas on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

Clemmensen is a pending unrestricted free agent — one that might be extending his NHL career, if he can keep it up.

Panthers owner: ‘We intend on being in the free agent market in a significant way’


Vinnie Viola says the Florida Panthers are going to be aggressive during this summer’s free agency period.

“We intend on being in the free agent market in a significant way” Viola told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “We’re here to build a winner.”

Under normal circumstances, this might sound like an owner paying lip service to fans of a struggling fanbase, but a couple things stand out.

One, Viola has already opened up the checkbook. Within 48 hours of finalizing his purchase of the club, Viola gave GM Dale Tallon the greelight to spend on unattached veteran free agents — which he did, spending $6 million on Tim Thomas, Brad Boyes, Jesse Winchester, Tom Gilbert and Krys Barch.

Thomas, 39, was perhaps the best example of an aggressive free agent approach. He didn’t come cheap — $3.75 million in salary — and was a big risk given he’d been away from the NHL for over a year, but the gamble has paid off as Thomas has become a workhorse for the Panthers and kept the struggling team afloat on certain nights.

Another thing to consider? Tallon’s history playing the free agent market.

Prior to the 2011-12 campaign, Tallon went out and revamped the club through a series of signings: Tomas Fleischmann, Jose Theodore, Sean Bergenheim, Ed Jovanovski and Scottie Upshall, to name a few. The result was a Southeast Division championship and the club’s first playoff appearance since 2000.

Viola wants to see the club get back to that level.

“We want to patiently win now,” he explained. “I don’t know if we can resolve the two logically, but that’s how I would say it.”

Video: long Hansen shot beats Rask


Suffice to say, the Bruins got a bit better goaltending the last time they visited Rogers Arena. Though to be fair to Tuukka Rask, Tim Thomas set a pretty high bar. Vancouver leads 1-0 with the second period about to get underway.

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