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A Good Look During Pre-Season Play

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
The Cats will have nine pre-season games this year, including two against the Ottawa Senators to open up play on September 15th and 16th. (AP Photo/Steve Mitchell)
By Dave Joseph for

Before embarking on their historic season-opener in Helsinki, Finland, the Panthers announced Thursday they will play a nine-game preseason schedule with seven games in nine days in North America.

The Panthers will begin their preseason schedule Sept. 15 in Nova Scotia before heading west across Canada, south to Dallas, and finally South Florida where they’ll play their only home preseason game Sept. 23 at BankAtlantic Center against the Dallas Stars.

Before opening the regular season with games Oct. 2-3 against the Blackhawks, the Panthers will play preseason games in Finland Sept. 28 against Tappara (Tampere) and Sept. 30 against Jokerit (Helsinki).

Between flying to their preseason camp in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, to opening the season the weekend of Oct. 2 against the Blackhawks in Finland, the Panthers will travel approximately 14,000 miles in three weeks.

Bring a few good books boys, and your iPod.

For so many of the Panthers young prospects, the seven-game preseason schedule in North America will allow them every opportunity to prove they belong on the opening-night roster, according to assistant GM Randy Sexton.

“We’re now at the point as an organization where we have the depth to play a lot of (preseason) games,” Sexton said. “Kids like (Dmitry) Kulikov, (Colby) Robak, (Keaton) Ellerby and (Jason) Garrison…those guys are going to get a lot of games. Sometimes when you have good depth in your organization and you only have a few games you don’t get a true opportunity to see those guys play and have the ability to project.”

The Panthers will spend three days training in Port Hawkesbury before kicking off their preseason schedule Sept. 15 against the Senators in Haifax, N.S., beginning a run of four games in four nights. The Panthers will then play the Senators in Ottawa on Sept. 16, the Canadiens in Montreal (17th) and the Oilers in Edmonton (18th). After a off-day Sept. 19, the Panthers will play the Flames Sept. 20 in Calgary before traveling to Dallas to play a Sept. 22 game against the Stars.

Sexton said the Panthers will begin training camp with a 52-man roster. That group will be split into two teams for the preseason games.

“Each team will play every second night and both teams will be balanced,” Sexton said. “For instance, when one team is playing in Ottawa the team playing the next night will already be in Montreal. The team playing in Ottawa will then go directly to Edmonton to get ready for that game.

“This works out good for us. The young guys are going to get a lot of games. The veterans tend not to like to play that many games.”

Sexton said the majority of player cuts will be made sometime between Sept. 19-22. “We’ll come back to Florida with a smaller group,” he said. “Then we’ll have a game (at BankAtlantic Center) before getting ready for the season.”

The Panthers will begin their trek Sept. 12 when they fly to Port Hawkesbury.

“That’s where we’ll set up shop, and it’s a great facility,” Sexton said. “It’s a chance for guys to see another part of the world they might otherwise not see. It’s a nice, hospitable, small community and a chance for guys to come together in a small setting.”

Tues., Sept 15
vs Ottawa Senators
Halifax Metro
Wed. Sept. 16
@ Ottawa Senators
Scotiabank Place
Thu. Sept. 17
@ Montreal Canadiens
Bell Centre
Fri. Sept. 18
@ Edmonton Oilers
Rexall Place
Sun. Sept. 20
@ Calgary Flames
Pengrowth Saddledome
Tue. Sept. 22
@ Dallas Stars
American Airlines Arena
Wed. Sept 23
vs Dallas Stars
BankAtlantic Center
Mon. Sept. 28
@ Tappara
Hakametsän Arena
Wed. Sept. 30
@ Jokerit
Hartwall Areena

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