Marcel Goc said there is no good time to be injured, but his timing couldn't have been worse.
Goc sprained his ankle playing for his German pro team in the Spengler Cup on Dec. 29; the NHL lockout ended a few weeks later. Goc was suspended without pay by the Panthers for being hurt playing for someone else as he rehabbed the injury.
Thursday, in the seventh game of the season, Goc was in the lineup for the first time.
"It was really bad timing, but you can't predict things,'' said Goc, who played with younger brother Nikolai and former Florida defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for the Mannheim Eagles in the German elite league, during the work stoppage.
"I did my rehab, did my work. Now I'm ready to help the team. It's not one guy in or out who will change things. It has to change collectively as a group. We need better support, make better decisions and hold onto the puck.''
Not only did Marcel get to play with Nikolai Goc, he also got to compete against older brother Sasha. On Oct. 14, Marcel's Mannheim team beat Sasha's Hannover squad 4-3 in a shootout.
"Being able to play in a game with my younger brother, against my older brother, was cool,'' Marcel said.
-- Coach Kevin Dineen said the Panthers will be without defenseman Ed Jovanovski through Sunday's game at Buffalo.
Jovanovski was knocked out of Tuesday's game at Tampa when he was hit hard on the knee by B.J. Crombeen; that shot led to Keaton Ellerby jumping Crombeen and taking 19 minutes in penalties.
Dineen said Jovanovski visited Dr. John Uribe on Wednesday and no structural damage was found. Dineen hoped Jovanovski can play Tuesday in Winnipeg.
"He won't play through the weekend,'' Dineen said. "The guy's heart's pretty big, so it's hard to put a number on how many days he'll be out.''
-- Center Stephen Weiss went through a hard skate Thursday morning and should be back Sunday in Buffalo. Dineen said Weiss would have played Thursday if the Panthers didn't hold him out.
Weiss, out with a groin injury, missed his third game Thursday; he missed two all of last season.
-- With Jovanovski out, Tyson Strachan found his way into the lineup for the first time since the opener. It has not been lost on some fans that Strachan is the only member of the Panthers to not suffer a loss this season.
"Hockey fans in general are superstitious, but I do have a good record this year,'' Strachan said with a laugh. "Our job is to be out there and help out. But this is part of hockey.''
-- The Panthers swapped minor league forwards with the Capitals on Tuesday, getting Zach Hamill for Casey Wellman.
Hamill, 24, was the eighth overall pick by Boston in 2007 and has appeared in 20 NHL games. He has 11 goals in 40 games for AHL Hershey this season. The 25-year-old Wellman had seven goals in 37 games for San Antonio.