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PANTHERS IN TAMPA: Tim Thomas Feeling Better ... Scott Clemmensen Up, Drew Shore Down ... Sean Bergenheim Out Through Weekend

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

TAMPA -- Panthers goalie Tim Thomas said he immediately began "aggressive treatment" on his strained groin and the injury felt better Wednesday morning than it did when he was hurt Tuesday night in Philadelphia.

Neither Thomas nor the Panthers think Thomas' injury is anything long term and he wasn't put on the injured list -- at least not yet. The Panthers can always place Thomas on the IR retroactively if he has any setbacks. Thomas said he hasn't had a groin injury since the 2006-07 season.

"It's already feeling better. I'm happy with the way things it's progressing,'' Thomas said after he didn't participate in Wednesday's practice. "You don't want to go too far in projecting [a return] with these kind of injuries.

"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.''

Florida called up Scott Clemmensen from its AHL affiliate in San Antonio as Thomas is expected to miss at least the next few days.

Jacob Markstrom, who stopped all 25 pucks he faced in the 2-1 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday, is expected to start Thursday against the host Lightning. Markstrom likely would have played Thursday anyway with Florida playing back-to-back contests.

"He did a good job,'' coach Kevin Dineen said.

Thomas said he felt a twinge when he awkwardly moved across the crease and instantly knew he would be coming out of the game at the next stoppage of play.

Unfortunately for Thomas and the Panthers, the next whistle came after the Flyers scored their second goal.

A long shot from Sean Couturier had Thomas make a similar move -- and he felt the groin go again. Thomas struggled to pick himself off the ice and was late to dive for Braydon Coburn's 50-foot shot from the side board that slid into the net.

"I put all my weight on the left leg; so I went one way and had to go really fast the other way,'' Thomas said. "I tried testing it, although you can't tell until you get into an awkward position. It's been so long since I've had any muscle strain, I just couldn't believe it. I didn't know how to respond to it quickly.''

Thomas said he knew criticism of him coming back to the NHL at 39 would start as soon as he got hurt.

Social media was abuzz when Thomas left Tuesday's game with many tweeting jokes about Thomas' age -- as well as plenty regarding 'Obamacare.' Thomas famously skipped the Bruins' trip to the White House in 2012.

"I thought about that when it happened, but I can't control what people say,'' Thomas said. "My job is to get better as soon as possible to be available to the team for their use.''

Clemmensen had minor knee surgery in September after having some swelling after an informal practice in Coral Springs. Clemmensen didn't play during Florida's preseason but made 24 saves off 25 shots in leading San Antonio to a 3-1 win last Saturday.

"The most important thing is my knee feels great,'' Clemmensen said. "That's the reason why I had the surgery in the first place. I didn't want to be battling this all year. I feel great physically. I had a late start to the season but I'm getting caught up.''

OUT FOR THE WEEKEND

Sean Bergenheim is getting closer to return after having two abdominal surgeries after working with Florida's top-six forwards for the first time on Wednesday.

Dineen said Bergenheim will travel with the team to Nashville where he will meet with the surgeon who did one of the surgeries. If all looks good, Bergenheim could be back in the lineup next week.

"We're still waiting for him to be cleared on the medical side,'' Dineen said.

-- To make room for Clemmensen, the Panthers sent forward Drew Shore to San Antonio. Florida had been carrying two extra forwards and said Shore needs to go to the minors and get in some playing time -- especially at center.

With Florida's glut of centers, Shore played on the wing in two of the opening three games.

"My feeling is he can be a top nine forward and play at the center spot,'' Dineen said. "I didn't see that here in the near future. As much as we make decisions on play, this was to keep furthering his development. He'll log some major minutes in San Antonio. He needs to play some hockey.''

THURSDAY: PANTHERS AT LIGHTNING

When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa

TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560

The series: Florida leads 57-42-10

The game: This is Tampa Bay's home opener after going 2-1-0 on its season-opening road trip. The Panthers are 1-2-0 on their four-game roadtrip -- which concludes Thursday. Florida lost three of five to the Lightning last season, but won the final two.

 

 

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