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2012-13 Schedule: Games To Watch

by Joseph Beguiristain / Florida Panthers

It's hard to choose just ten out of the 82 game schedule but here's a look at ten of them and why a Panthers fan might want to pay close attention to those in particular.

Sat. October 13th vs. Tampa Bay: This will be the game the fans remember most for a few reasons. It is the home opener and season opener for the Panthers, so you know BankAtlantic Center will be on fire for this one. The number one reason this night will stick in people’s minds is because for the first time in franchise history, the Florida Panthers will raise the Southeast division banner; in front of their bitter division rival, the Tampa Bay Lightning no less.

That banner represents an exciting 2011-2012 season that they will look to improve on with continued guidance from General Manager Dale Tallon.

Mon. October 15th At Washington: The Capitals will be out for revenge after a disappointing 2011-12 campaign in which they finished seventh in the Eastern Conference after winning the Eastern Conference two years in a row.

The Caps beat the Panthers four times in their six meetings last year, but the Panthers came away with the division crown. Both sides have something to prove and it should be a great game for the fans. Jose Theodore will look to stop Alex Ovechkin and their high powered attack. The Panthers haven’t won in Washington since December 9th, 2010 and they will be looking to break that streak.

Wed. November 21st vs. N.Y. Rangers: The New York Rangers had an excellent campaign in 2012 as they were one of the favorites to win it all. The Panthers came away victorious in just one of their meetings last season and will be looking to build on that in front of their home crowd the day before Thanksgiving.

Fri. November 23rd vs. Detroit: All stuffed from Turkey and burned out from football, Panther fans will be delighted to see a huge matchup with the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings won in an overtime thriller last season in the team’s only matchup. These two squads hardly play each other, so it will be great to see how the Panthers stack up with one of the best in the West.

Florida will get two chances to take on Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick and the defending Stanley Cup champs Los Angeles Kings (Getty Images)

Thu. December 6th At Los Angeles: The Panthers will play their first game against the defending Stanley Cup Champions in Los Angeles. The Panthers split last season with the then Stanley Cup defending Champion, Boston Bruins.

The Kings have one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, Jonathan Quick who will be tough to score on. Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss, and Kris Versteeg should be looking to attack all night in order to upset the Kings at Staples Center.

Thu. December 13th vs. New Jersey: You can’t put this any other way, this will be a revenge game for the Florida Panthers. The Panthers will find themselves back where it all ended last season; against the Devils at BankAtlantic Center. After the heartbreaking Game 7 double overtime defeat to the eventual Eastern Conference Champions, the Panthers should come out seeing red and firing on all cylinders.

Sat. December 29th At Carolina: The Panthers had the Hurricanes number last year, beating them five times in their six meetings. The Hurricanes are looking to avenge that and an awful 2011-12 season, while the Panthers look to continue their dominance.

But as the saying goes, division wins are always hard to come by.

Fri. January 4th At Pittsburgh: The Penguins have been a perennial powerhouse in the NHL the past few years and last season they had the Panthers number. They beat the Panthers all but one time out of the four matchups.

Reigning league MVP Evgeni Malkin, captain Sidney Crosby and netminder Marc-Andre Fleury are a tough bunch to go up against, but with Crosby’s health still in question anything can happen. This matchup should be a competitive game in front of the rabid Pittsburgh fans.

Fri. March 8th vs. Chicago: Towards the end of the season, the Panthers will have a big test at home against one of the better teams in the West. Tallon’s old boys will come to town with both teams likely vying for a playoff spot in their respective conferences. It should be a good one from Sunrise.

Tue. April 2nd At Tampa Bay: The final two weeks of the season for the Panthers pits them against the Kings, the Penguins, and three divisional foes (Lightning, Hurricanes, and Jets). The Panthers’ final game with the Tampa Bay Lightning kicks off the gauntlet of games and is the most important of the bunch.

A win against the Lightning will give the Panthers confidence against the remaining tough matchups that lie ahead. The Panthers lost the last two in Tampa last season and will be looking to use a victory here to catapult them to the playoffs for the second straight season.

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