Drew Shore admits he “took it pretty hard” when he was sent down to the Panthers’ AHL affiliate in San Antonio after just two early season games with Florida this season.
Even harder on him must be that in the 28 ensuing games with San Antonio, the center has yet to score a goal for the Rampage.
After spending time away from the team and with his family in Denver for a holiday break, Shore was on his way back to San Antonio thinking Christmas was over.
But he had one final present awaiting him. It was a call from the Panthers rerouting him to South Florida.
With a game against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday at the BB&T Center on the horizon, the Panthers returned to the Saveology.com Iceplex for practice Friday after a three-day holiday hiatus and brought with them two call-ups — Shore and defenseman Alex Petrovic, whose yoyo-like journey between the NHL and AHL has seen him called up to the Panthers on Sunday, sent back down Monday after a 6-1 loss and back with the pro team Friday.
Florida called up Shore after determining Scottie Upshall’s upper-body injury will hold him out at least over the weekend. Team doctors will further evaluate Upshall next week.
“[Shore has] been playing his best hockey. He hasn’t scored a lot down there, but he was a little snakebit,” Panthers coach Peter Horachek said.
“... He’s been their most consistent guy as of late, so he deserves that opportunity.”
While not scoring a goal this season for San Antonio, Shore has 15 assists. He understands he’s going to have to play more aggressively.
“I’ve got to shoot the puck more. I pass the puck way too much,” says Shore, who was given the royal rookie treatment after practice Friday, being the player appointed to serve teammates energy drinks.
Shore, whom the Panthers drafted 44th overall out of the University of Denver in 2009, scored 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 43 games with the Panthers last season. He was seen working with the fourth line of forwards Friday.
Petrovic was demoted and promoted again without missing a game for the Panthers — or playing a game for San Antonio. He got the call back with the placement of defenseman Erik Gudbranson on injured reserve with orbital bone surgery.
Petrovic relishes the opportunity to get called back so quickly after being part of a defensive effort that permitted Tampa Bay to score six goals at the BB&T Center on Monday in his only game of the season.
“It’s unfortunate that [Gudbranson] broke his orbital bone, but for me, that’s how the business is,” Petrovic said. “You have to take advantage of your opportunities.”
Horachek understands that Petrovic was put in a tough spot in the loss to the Lightning.
“He didn’t get much sleep and flew right in there and played a good game,” Horachek said, before recanting and saying that nobody was good in that game. “I think it gives him an opportunity to practice with the team and play in a more focused situation for him.”
• Goaltender Tim Thomas is expected to be back in net for the Panthers on Saturday after being activated off the injured list (groin) on Tuesday.