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Cats & Coffee: Panthers Begin Preseason with 5-Game Week

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

Good morning and welcome to "Cats & Coffee," a weekly segment, presented by Koffee Kult, in which we serve up an exciting look at what's on deck for your Florida Panthers. Like our friends at Koffee Kult, this forecast serves up only the best -- so sit back, sip and enjoy our latest brew of news, notes and information!

The Florida Panthers are eager to be tested.

After opening up training camp with a long weekend of intense intra-squad scrimmages, new Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville is excited to hit the road this week to see how players fare "against enemies" when the team kicks off its rigorous eight-game preseason schedule.

"We've got a busy trip, a busy day tomorrow," he said after Sunday's practice.

Very busy indeed.

Following a quick practice at the Panthers IceDen on Monday morning, the team will board a flight to Nashville for a doubleheader against the Predators that same day. From there, they'll head north of the border to Canada for back-to-back games against the Montreal Canadiens.

As this year's Kraft Hockeyville winner, the small town of Renous, New Brunswick will host the first game of the back-to-back at the K.C. Irving Regional Centre in nearby Bathurst. After that, both teams will head back to Montreal to close out their back-to-back set at the Bell Centre.

Having already cut the camp's roster down from 61 to 51 on Sunday, Quenneville plans to use the doubleheader against the Predators as a chance to evaluate as much as 40 players, many of whom are either rookies or on the roster bubble. As the team heads into Montreal, he says, his system should really start to take shape as the roster continues to shrink down day by day.

By the time the Panthers return, Quenneville expects about "30ish" players left in camp.

"As we go along and then we go to Montreal for those two games, in Bathurst and Montreal, we'll get a little more of our group going on, a little more introduction about how we want to play, how we have to play in all areas," Quenneville said. "I'm looking forward to seeing NHL-caliber games and some guys getting exposure, particularly the one's not playing [in Nashville]."

After a few days at home, the team will hit the road once again on Saturday.

For the second year in a row, the Panthers will make the trip to Tulsa, Okla. to tango with the Dallas Stars. Florida won the two club's inaugural neutral-site meeting last year, 4-3 in overtime.

Here's everything you need to know for the week ahead…

THE GAMES

Monday: at Nashville Predators, 4:30 p.m. / 8:00 p.m.

What's better than one game to jumpstart the preseason? How about two! The Panthers will get their first taste of action in 2019-20 when they visit the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Monday for the annual doubleheader between the two clubs - a unique tradition that began in 2011. The last time the Panthers pulled double duty in Nashville, they won one game 5-3 and lost the other 3-2 in overtime in 2017. Last season, the Predators won both contests in Sunrise. Entering this latest matchup, look for Florida's rookies and other players on the roster bubble to earn a lot of playing time. The Cats are traveling 51 players to the Music City, which means not everyone can play in this one. Like Coach Q said, cuts are coming, so these two games might be the only opportunity for some players on the cusp to show what they've got. While no official lineup has been released yet, there's a good chance that top-forward prospects Owen Tippett and Aleksi Heponiemi, who are both turning pro this season, will play. On the other end of the ice, the Predators have some equally intriguing roster battles going on with forwards Rem Pitlick (3rd round, 2016) and Eeli Tolvaven (1st round, 2017) standing out as two young players hoping to stick with the big club this season. There's also a possibility that we could potentially see the Nashville debut of center Matt Duchene, who joined the team this summer as a free agent.

TV: n/a

Radio: NHL Mobile App

Wednesday: at Montreal Canadiens, 7:00 p.m.

Where is Renous, New Brunswick? We're all about to find out. Chosen to participate in this year's Kraft Hockeyville game, the Panthers and Montreal Canadiens will battle at the K.C. Irving Regional Centre on Wednesday in Bathurst, which is about an hour drive away from Renous. "I remember watching one of those [games] every preseason," Panthers forward Frank Vatrano said of the event, which is entering its 13th season. "It's always cool to see the fans that show up to that. It's a small town, but there's probably going to be a lot of people. It's definitely a game to get excited about." Florida won its only matchup against Montreal during last year's preseason, riding two early goals from Evgenii Dadonov to a 5-2 win at Bell Centre on Sept. 19, 2018. This time around, it's once again a best guess as to who will be in the lineup for the Cats. Could we see the highly anticipated Panthers debut of two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky? Maybe Aleksander Barkov will be manning the top line? We'll know more as the week rolls on.

TV: NHL Network

Radio: NHL Mobile App

Thursday: at Montreal Canadiens, 7:00 p.m.

Following their visit to Kraft Hockeyville, the Panthers will quickly head to Montreal to close out their back-to-back and road trip against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Thursday. As previously mentioned, Florida topped Montreal in last year's preseason. In four regular-season games, both Barkov and Mike Hoffman had better than a point per game against the Canadians. Barkov had three goals and two assists; Hoffman had one goal and four assists. For the Habs, Max Domi led the charge against the Cats in 2018-19, posting four goals and an assist. Following this contest, the Panthers will have four preseason games remaining, including a home tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sept. 24 - the first of five straight games they'll play against their cross-state rivals. Three of those games will be exhibitions. The fourth will mark the Season Opener on Oct. 3. The fifth and final game will be the Home Opener on Oct. 5.

TV: n/a

Radio: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast); NHL Mobile App

Saturday: at Dallas Stars, 8:00 p.m.

Get out your cowboy hat and best pair of boots, the Panthers are heading back to Oklahoma. For the second year in a row, the Cats will travel to Tulsa on Saturday to clash with the Dallas Stars in a neutral-site game at the BOK Center, home of the ECHL's Tulsa Oilers. In their last preseason meeting, Henrik Borgstrom opened the scoring in an eventual 4-3 overtime win. In this latest installment, the second-year center will look to have a similar impact if he plays as he works to carve out a place for himself in the lineup once again this season. "I want to be better than I was last year," said Borgstrom, who tallied eight goals and 10 assists in 50 games as a rookie in 2018-19. "I hope I can play more with the puck and create more offense." As for the Stars, keep your eyes on Tyler Seguin, who led the team in goals (33) and points (80) last year.

TV: n/a

Radio: NHL Mobile App

THE SUITE LIFE

The Panthers want to put you in a suite during a preseason game - for free!

With the "Summer Suite Savings" promotion, fans that purchase any regular-season suite for the month of October or November will receive a complimentary suite during one of Florida's two preseason home games - Sept. 24 or 26 against the Tampa Bay Lightning at BB&T Center.

For more information and to check out eligible games, click HERE.

THANK YOU, FANS

There's no other way to say this: Panthers fans, you rock!

At the "Cats Kickoff" event on Saturday, hundreds of you packed the Panthers IceDen.

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: Thanks to all the #FlaPanthers fans who came out to Cats Kickoff @PanthersIceDen today! 😸 pic.twitter.com/XFHD3iJR11

Your loud cheers, chants and overall passion did not go unnoticed.

"That was pretty exciting," Panthers center Henrik Borgstrom said. "It was like 10 a.m. in the morning and [the building] was already packed and people were cheering. It was amazing."

"The fans in the stands were great," new Panthers center Noel Acciari said. "That really gives us an extra boost out there. I think everyone's excited in Florida for the Panthers, and so are we."

We look forward to seeing you all again throughout the 2019-20 season!

FLEXING IN FLORIDA

It's easier than ever to fit Panthers hockey into your busy schedule.

With the recent introduction of the organization's brand-new "Flex Plans," fans can now create their own ticket package while also saving up to 27 percent on single-game ticket pricing. The rules for creating a plan are simple, with the main one being it must consist of at least 20 tickets.

"With today's pace of life, we're excited to be able to offer fans customizable 'Flex Plans,'" Panthers President & CEO Matthew Caldwell said in the team's official release. "Experience Panthers Hockey your way or catch every game with a full-season ticket package."

There are currently seven pre-made plans to choose from, but fans are also encouraged to take a swing at designing their own. I personally gave creating a plan my best shot earlier this month, crafting "The Jameson Plan" built around big games, promo nights and scheduling tendencies.

If you're looking for some inspiration, you can check out my plan HERE.

To view all of the pre-made plans, begin building your own or to learn more about the perks of "Flex Plans," visit FloridaPanthers.com/FlexPlans or grab your phone and dial 954-835-7825.

For season tickets and all other inquiries, please check out FloridaPanthers.com/TicketCentral.

CATS CLIP OF THE WEEK

The 2019 Amerigol LATAM Cup highlighted Latin America's growing love for hockey.

Video: 2019 Amerigol LATAM Cup Feature

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Tweet from @StanleyCPanther: The gang���s all here! Chillin��� at the @PanthersIceDen with @nbc6, #viktoreratt🐭 and the @ROARCorps for @FlaPanthers #TrainingCamp. pic.twitter.com/gcpnuZDSAE

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: We���re here @PanthersIceDen for the @amerigolhockey LATAM Cup! Stop by and see us. pic.twitter.com/03y5GjSjHy

Tweet from @KUSeahawksCoach: First day of hockey for this girl. She loves skating. Thank you @NHLPA and @FlaPanthers for the Learn to Play program. 🏒🥅��� #hockeygirls #figureskating #prouddad pic.twitter.com/DE9xSmSPyj

TERRITORY TALK

Henrik Borgstrom joined this week's episode of the Territory Talk podcast to discuss his mindset heading into his sophomore season, his summer training regime and how he killed time flying all the way from Finland to South Florida. Also, Panthers and FOX Sports Florida digital reporter Katie Gaus chats with Doug and Jameson about her career path and new role with the team.

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

-- Training Camp Notebook: Panthers Prepare for 1st Preseason Games

-- The Panthers reduced their training camp roster from 61 to 51 on Sunday

-- Training Camp Notebook: Fans Pack the Panthers IceDen

-- Want to Play Poker with the Panthers? Don't Miss This Year's "Ice & Dice"

-- Up-Tempo: The Panthers Hit the Ground Running on 1st Day of Training Camp

-- Sergei Bobrovsky Practiced Patient in His 1st Panthers Practice

-- 2019 second-round pick Vladislav Kolyachonok has signed with the Panthers

-- The Time is Now for the Panthers

-- In the Wake of Hurricane Dorian, the Panthers are Raising Money for Relief Efforts

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