The net in Sunrise, Fla., is officially Tim Thomas‘ to lose.
After impressing coaches during the preseason and training camp, Thomas was named the Panthers’ opening-night starter on Wednesday. It’ll be the first game action the veteran netminder has seen since Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
“Tim Thomas will [get the start]. For my first and last goalie announcement of the year, I usually don’t go down that line,” head coach Kevin Dineen told FloridaPanthers.com. “But Timmy is going to get opening night and very pleased with the way he has played over the last couple of weeks in practice and in the games that he came in.
“He’s earned that net on opening night.”
After making a brief cameo in his Panthers debut last Thursday (stopping nine of 10 shots in less than two periods of work), Thomas played the full 60 in Florida’s preseason finale. The 39-year-old saved 22 of 25 shots in a 5-3 win over Tampa Bay.
Thomas will be reunited with a former teammate in Thursday’s season opener, as the Panthers will travel to Dallas for a meeting with Tyler Seguin and the Stars. Former Bruins winger Rich Peverley was also shipped to Dallas over the offseason, but he is not expected to suit up for the opener.