The Florida Panthers enter this upcoming season fresh off their first division crown in franchise history. The Panthers have a pretty tough schedule in 2012-2013 with some really rough road trips. The opening two months of the season aren’t overly taxing but December is undoubtedly the hardest month for the Panthers. Towards the end of the year, the Panthers get some matchups with division foes that will be important for the playoff chase. Ahead are breakdowns month by month of the 2012-2013 season for the Florida Panthers.
|The season kicks off Oct. 13 as the Panthers host the Lightning (Getty Images)
The Panthers open the season against their division rival, Tampa Bay Lightning on October 13th. The Panthers will be hoisting their Southeast Division banner that night and there is no other opponent that fits as well as Tampa Bay does. Playing just three of their first eight games at home, Florida will be on the road for four straight about a week later. The Panthers will be aiming to start the season strong since only one game comes against a team that made the playoffs in 2012.
November is a pretty interesting month for the Panthers. The Panthers play two teams they will only see once the entire season, Edmonton and Detroit. Seven of the 13 games during the month are at home, including a few games during Thanksgiving weekend. (Wed. November 21st vs. the Rangers, Fri. November 23rd vs. the Red Wings, and Sun. November 25th vs. the Lightning). Florida will hit the West coast of North America for the first time as they travel to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
The holiday season is definitely not kind to the Florida Panthers in 2012-2013. Some of the teams that the Panthers play in December are: the Flyers, Kings, Coyotes, Devils, Bruins, Capitals, Lightning, and the Rangers (twice). A lot of those tough games will be on the road, including a four game stretch covering nearly 2,600 miles against Boston, Washington, New York, and Ottawa. When New Year’s Day comes, we will see what kind of team the Florida Panthers have. For the second time in two months, Florida will hit the West side of the continent as they play Anaheim, Los Angeles and Phoenix in a four day span.
After the taxing month of December (15 games), the Panthers are thrust into a five game road trip, including games against Buffalo and Pittsburgh. Besides that, there are only a handful of tough games throughout the month (only play 10 thanks to All-Star break). If the Panthers somehow struggle in December, they should be able to make up ground in January.
Things get a little bit easier for the Panthers in February, as they have 9 of their 14 games at home. While they have two tough games away against the Philadelphia Flyers, the other tough games in the month such as the Sharks and Penguins are at home. The end of the month starts to usher in a season long seven-game home stand.
As hard as December will be for the Florida Panthers, the month of March will likely be a make or break month, especially with the playoffs rapidly approaching. While the beginning of March seems simple as the team concludes their home stand, the end of March into April is quite the stretch. The Panthers have their toughest road trip of the season as they face off against the Penguins, Rangers, and Devils before finishing the road trip at Ottawa and Toronto.
The last two weeks of the season provide the fans with a gauntlet of opponents including the defending champion Kings, the Blues who finished the 2011-12 regular season as the West’s second best team, and three divisional opponents. The home stretch of the season is vitally important for the push to the playoffs and the Panthers will need to be resilient. The division games against Tampa Bay, Carolina and Winnipeg are all on the road. The cardiac Cats will need to be in full force for the Panthers to be in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second consecutive year.