With the Florida Panthers coming off a successful 2011-2012 season, Cat fans cannot be more excited for the 2012-2013 season to start. With only 84 days remaining to puck drop, we will now take a quick look at 5 road games this season which many fans should have circled on their calendar.
Monday October 15 – Washington Capitals – Just two nights after raising their 2011-2012 Southeast Division banner, the Florida Panthers will take on the Washington Capitals – their biggest competition for the title – who won the banner for themselves the past few seasons.
Despite crushing most divisional rival teams last season, the Panthers struggled against the Capitals managing only 2 wins in 6 games while being outscored 19-12. If the Panthers want to repeat as Division Champions, the Cats will have to win more games against the Capitals or there just may be a new beast of the Southeast.
Monday November 5 - Carolina Hurricanes – In order to become Division Champions, it is key that the Panthers win important games against division rivals. Last season Florida won 5 of 6 matchups against the Hurricanes, these five victories accumulated 10 points which meant a lot to the standings at the end of the season.
No doubt with the offseason acquisition of Jordan Staal, the Carolina Hurricanes will be a different team heading into this season. If the Panthers want to prevail as Southeast Division Champions they will have a repeat performance against the Hurricanes, who on paper have improved.
Sunday November 6 – New Jersey Devils – After snapping a NHL leading 11-straight seasons without postseason play, the Florida Panthers met the New Jersey Devils as their first round opponent. Despite losing the first game of the postseason, the Panthers rallied back to take a 3-2 series lead to put the Devils on the brink of elimination. But, an overtime goal in game 6, followed by a double overtime goal in game 7 saw the Devils take the series from the Panthers hands.
This game will be the first meeting of the two clubs since the Panthers were eliminated, and its safe to say they will have the Devils number. Many Panthers fans will be glued to their television screens, watching as the Panthers take to the ice seeking vengence after being eliminated. Despite this not being a home game, the Panthers know that this game will mean more than anything to their fans as everyone in Southeast Floirda will be counting on the team to pull out the victory.
Tuesday November 13 – Vancouver Canucks – Following the 2011-2012 season, the hockey world was surprised when Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo announced he was okay with a trade out of Vancouver, and instantly his former team become a primary spot for where he may land.
Leading up to the July 1st free agency frenzy, defencemen Jason Garrison drew a lot of attention when he posted 16 goals and 17 assists in a breakout season. Ultimately, Garrison would end up signing with the Canucks, leaving a huge gap on the Panthers blueline. This is a must watch game for all Panther fans, if nothing else to see just how well Garry performs in Van-City.
Thursday December 13 – Los Angeles Kings – Every year, 30 NHL teams compete for the chance to win the Stanley Cup. The team which prevails with the cup one season has a huge target on their backs during the following season. Every team in the NHL will be gunning for the Kings as they aim to see just how well they match up against the Stanley Cup champions and this is no different for the Panthers.
After defeating the Panthers with a Game 7 double overtime victory the New Jersey Devils went on to take down the Philadelphia Flyers, followed by the Eastern Conference Champions New York Rangers squad. In the Stanley Cup finals the Los Angeles Kings took down the Devils in 6 games. The Panthers will play with a sort of “what if” mentality, realizing if they could’ve scored one more goal on the Devils, it could have been them facing the Kings in the Finals – potentially beating them.
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