By no means was Tomas Fleischmann the so-called “Iron Man’’ of the Panthers, but he admits it was tough watching his consecutive-games-played streak come to a close Sunday.
Fleischmann had played in all of the 148 games — including the postseason — the Panthers had since he signed with Florida on July 1, 2011, going into Sunday’s game against the Lightning.
Yet Fleischmann was so sick Sunday he says he couldn’t “hold a stick, much less shoot the puck.” The Panthers, for the first time since he joined the team, were without No. 14.
“I wasn’t close enough to be able to help the team out,’’ Fleischmann said after Thursday’s practice. “I was really achy, couldn’t compete at all. It’s tough, but those things happen. There’s nothing I could do about it. I always want to play.’’
When Fleischmann signed with the Panthers in 2011, few could have imagined it would take him two-plus seasons to miss a single game.
The Panthers took a risk in making Fleischmann their highest-paid forward (at the time) when he was signed to a four-year deal worth $4.5 million annually.
Fleischmann, after all, had missed the second half of the previous season with Colorado after blood clots were discovered in his lungs. In the two seasons before signing with the Panthers, Fleischmann missed an average of 43 games.
The Panthers are certainly more of a threat offensively with Fleischmann in the lineup. He led the team in goals (27) and points (61) in 2011-12 and in points (35) last season.
Fleischmann has two goals this season, but leads the team with nine points.
“He’s played a lot of hockey under a lot of physical conditions,’’ coach Kevin Dineen said. “He’s an impact player in our lineup, and we’re better when he’s in it at his full effectiveness. He had a nice little streak that was broken.’’
Tim Thomas didn’t practice Thursday as he was seen goofing around by shooting pucks — pretty accurately, too — from just inside the blue line as the rest of his teammates skated off to a different sheet of ice.
Thomas had worked out the previous three days but took Thursday off making him unlikely to return to the lineup this weekend. Florida plays host to St. Louis on Friday and travels to Washington the following night.
The Panthers haven’t disclosed Thomas’ recent injury saying only it’s unrelated to his previous groin injury.
“He’s still being evaluated each day,’’ Dineen said. “He’s doubtful for the weekend.’’
• Dineen turned a little salty when he was asked how he would use Florida’s 7-0 loss to the Blues on Oct. 5 in St. Louis in preparation for Friday’s home game. The Panthers have lost three in a row to the Blues.
“We got our [behinds] kicked, so how do you think we’re going to react to it?’’ Dineen said. “You get beat bad, a team spanks you and we’re all professional and have pride. We know we took a really good kicking.’’
• San Jose’s Logan Couture used the Panthers as an example when he said his team’s loss at Los Angeles on Wednesday had nothing to do with a so-called Staples Arena curse. The Sharks have won just one of their past 12 in L.A.
“We could have played in Florida tonight and probably lost that game, too,’’ Couture told The San Jose Mercury News. “We just didn’t play well enough to win.”
For the record, the Panthers have won four in a row against the Sharks and haven’t lost to San Jose since Halloween night 2006.